Mattress Topper Hack – How to Prolong Mattress Life and Make A Mattress Softer or Firmer
We keep saying it—sleeping well is vital to your health. Using a mattress topper is a great way to make your bed more comfortable and make your mattress last longer! But, why call it a "mattress topper hack"?
The mattress topper hack involves buying a mattress topper instead of a new or different mattress to make a mattress softer or firmer, or to prolong the mattress' life. This can save between $135 and $600.
If your mattress is aging, but not too old and sagging, and you can't afford to change it right away, you can give it a bit of a facelift and extend its life by adding a mattress topper. Alternatively, if your mattress is brand new, a mattress topper can help the mattress last longer and simply make your good mattress even better. Here is an interesting article where we discuss the benefits and disadvantages of mattress toppers.
What is a Mattress Topper?
A mattress topper allows you to enjoy a softer and more welcoming bed without completely changing the underlying quality of your mattress support. For example, if it is firm it will stay that way, but it will feel more inviting when you lie on it.
A mattress topper is a bedding item that is laid on top of a mattress and makes the bed either softer, firmer, warmer or cooler. It can be manufactured from a wide variety of materials such as memory foam, latex, wool, and down.
We've discussed more details about installing a mattress topper in our article. The topper's usefulness is in improving the comfort and softening the feeling of your mattress if you find it too firm—or making it firmer if you feel it is too soft. Mattress toppers can provide relief for painful pressure points—especially if you have back pain, hip pain, shoulder pain, or if you are a side sleeper. We have another helpful article where we discuss how to choose a mattress topper for a side sleeper.
The Mattress Topper Hack – Prolonging Mattress Life
To fix a lumpy and uncomfortable mattress, there are three main criteria to consider when choosing your mattress topper.
The mattress topper hack includes choosing the right type of mattress topper to place on the mattress in order to prolong the mattresses’ life, minimize sagging and lumps. There are several factors to consider that will affect the sleeping experience: thickness, material, and density.
1. Thickness of the Mattress Topper
The thickness of a mattress topper usually falls between 2-4 inches, and occasionally 5 inches.
If you want to notice a significant difference in the feel of your bed, be sure to choose a mattress topper that is at least 2 inches thick. Anything less would probably be considered a mattress pad—a product which is thinner and only designed for superficial padding not for making a substantial difference to the feel of the mattress.
Keep in mind that you are likely to incur an additional expense if you buy a thick mattress topper, as you may need to buy deeper fitted sheets too, because your mattress will be higher than it was before. You can find some deep pocket fitted sheets from Amazon here, which fit snugly over both the topper and mattress. Before purchasing bedding make sure to measure the total height of your mattress plus topper and buy bedding that has sufficient depth to accommodate both.
2. Choice of Material for Your Ideal Mattress Topper
Often mattress toppers are meant to have a shorter lifespan than high quality mattresses, but not always. This is reflected in the wide range of mattress topper materials that are available. The most common mattress toppers are made of latex, memory foam, polyester blends, feathers, and wool. You may choose one over another depending on your personal preferences, health issues (back pain, allergies, poor sleeping posture), and desired comfort.
3. Density of Mattress Toppers
Probably the most common similarity between mattresses and toppers are the considerations of their density. For both mattresses and mattress toppers, low density starts at 3 lbs/ft3 or less, medium-density measures 4-5 lbs/ft3, and high density will be 6 lbs/ft3 or more. Choosing a different density—higher or lower—will change the feel of the base mattress as much as any other factor. Density will also influence durability.
Choose a Mattress Topper Thickness That Will Make a Difference in The Firmness of Your Mattress
Deciding which thickness is right for you is likely to be the most important consideration when choosing a mattress topper.
When choosing a mattress topper thickness that will make a difference to the firmness of an existing mattress, a thicker topper will make a greater difference than a thinner topper.
If you just want to make the mattress a little softer, a thinner mattress topper will be enough. If you need to change the feel of the bed a lot or add more firmness, then a thicker topper is the way to go.
2 Inch Thick Mattress Toppers
A 2-inch thick mattress topper is ideal if you just need a little more support (or softness), as you sleep. These toppers can be made of memory foam, latex, down, wool, and down alternatives. You’ll have a broad range of resilience to pick from. Although a variety of firmnesses are available, keep in mind that a 2-inch mattress topper is not going to revive a mattress that is truly past its useful life.
If your mattress is aging (over 8 years) or sagging, or if you’re feeling the bed slats through your mattress, then a 2-inch mattress topper isn’t the right solution for your aging mattress. Here is an 8 inch mattress from Amazon to replace your aging mattress that also works well with a 2-inch mattress topper.
3 Inch Thick Mattress Toppers
This is the minimum thickness you should consider if you are looking for a mattress topper that will give you extra support, in addition to what the mattress provides. You can find a diverse range of alternatives in 3-inch mattress toppers, spanning the full spectrum from soft to firm. When the topper is 3 inches thick you will feel a noticeable difference in the firmness of your bed, depending on which grade you choose. For more luxurious sleep, choose among any of the mattress topper materials like, fiberfill, memory foam, latex, down, cotton, or wool. For more resilience (firmness), pick a latex or memory foam mattress topper with a firmer rating, like this 3-inch mattress topper from Amazon.
4-5 Inch Thick Mattress Toppers
Generally, a 4-5 inch mattress topper is the thickest topper you can purchase that is not defined as a mattress, per se. A 4-inch or thicker topper is the best choice if your existing mattress is aging (5 years) or if you can feel the foundation beneath. Some quality mattress toppers of this thickness could almost be a new mattress in themselves, and they can seem like a complete overhaul of an aging bed. These mattress toppers will often give you some extra time before you decide to buy a new mattress.
Note: Even mattress toppers need support! Do you need a mattress foundation for a mattress topper? Read and find out.
The Best Mattress Topper Material for The Mattress Topper Hack is….
Like mattresses, mattress toppers can be made from many different materials and you can choose any of them according to your needs and desires.
The best mattress topper material for the mattress topper hack is the one that offers features missing from the current mattress, as well as the desired comfort level. For example, choose natural fibers like wool or down to regulate mattress temperature or a latex mattress topper to make a mattress firmer. A memory foam mattress topper can make a mattress softer.
While memory foam is a modern favorite for bedding materials, it is not the only choice or even the best choice for everyone. Mattress toppers can be made of natural latex or other types of foam. The various types of foam can be quite different, so it is important to pay attention to get the best foam for your specific needs. There are also toppers made of cotton, bamboo, wool, and down.
1. Memory Foam Mattress Toppers
Memory foam (viscoelastic) is ideal for relieving pressure points and promoting blood circulation. Originally developed for NASA—memory foam naturally responds to body heat and pressure to shape to the body's contours. As a result, you can sleep as if you are weightless.
You will especially appreciate the motion isolating qualities of this mattress topper if there is a significant weight difference between you and your partner, because memory foam does not transfer movement in the same way as other mattresses. Memory foam is also virtually silent. Our other article about memory foam explains the pros and cons between latex vs. memory foam mattress toppers.
Many people find that memory foam's tendency to retain heat results in an uncomfortably hot bed. To offset this, many memory foam mattress toppers are now infused with gel for its cooling properties, like this one from Amazon.
All memory foam is made with polyurethane foam. As polyurethane foam is highly flammable, memory foam bedding products must be coated with flame retardants, so it is important to be aware of the type of flame retardant used on a specific mattress topper if you have any chemical sensitivities. We discuss mattress fire retardants in this article.
2. Natural Latex Mattress Toppers
Another high-performance material, natural latex has many desirable qualities. These include a long lifespan, great support, and excellent ventilation. While natural latex mattress toppers are more expensive, they are also the most durable. Their bouncy support will last a long time.
Environmentally friendly latex is produced from the sap of rubber trees and specially processed for use in bedding. Natural latex is naturally antimicrobial, antifungal, mold and mildew resistant, and even hypoallergenic and dust mite resistant.
The latex topper offers the most comfort on the market with its supple feel. It is supportive and offers relief on pressure points. Latex foam also minimizes motion transfer—an important feature if you or your partner are restless during the night.
This mattress topper is especially ideal if you get too hot at night, because latex stays cool naturally. It has good air circulation because of natural air channels in the foam. We enjoy the cooling properties of this latex foam mattress topper from Amazon and how it enhances the feel of your mattress—making it ideal for the mattress topper hack.
3. Foam Mattress Toppers
Synthetic (or blended) foams are cheaper than natural, organic latex. Mattress toppers made of polyurethane or high resilience foam can bring additional comfort to your mattress. However, you do need to pay close attention to the quality and density, because there are many different grades and none are as durable as natural latex. This article explains the differences between smart grid and memory foam.
4. Goose or Duck Feather or Down Mattress Toppers
You may already be familiar with these materials in duvets and pillows. They are also used in mattress toppers. A feather or down mattress topper provides comfort and warmth to the chilliest sleepers. At the same time, they are naturally breathable with great air circulation. They are also easy to maintain. These won't provide much support, but they will give great "lying on a pillow" comfort.
Be careful—if you are going for a down and feather mattress topper—to check the quality of the stitching so that it lasts over time. There is nothing more annoying than feathers leaking out everywhere. And if your mattress topper is slipping off the mattress we have an article that explains how to fix a sliding mattress topper.
5. Bamboo Mattress Toppers
More and more natural materials and environmentally friendly products have been introduced to the bedding industry. Bamboo has a firmly established spot at the top of that list. Like cotton, bamboo can be found in mattress toppers as an outer fabric, or as a fiberfill, or both.
Bamboo has many advantages, not least of which is its softness. It is known for its antibacterial and hypoallergenic properties. Bamboo is also recognized for its coolness and breathability, which will ensure freshness on hot summer nights. A bamboo mattress topper is great for people with allergies, and those who feel too hot at night.
6. Wool Mattress Toppers
Wool is an ideal fill material for a mattress topper. Equally comfortable in hot and cold weather—wool is warm in winter and cool in summer. It naturally wicks moisture away and doesn't feel "sweaty." Wool fibers, which are naturally springy, also allow superb air circulation.
While some people are allergic to wool, for others it is great for their allergies because wool is resistant to dust mites without using other chemicals. Wool is also naturally fire resistant, so there is no need for added fire retardants, which is ideal for those with chemical sensitivities.
7. Cotton Mattress Toppers
For thousands of years, cotton has been admired for its beneficial properties. It is a natural material, breathable, causes almost zero allergies, feels soft, and is cool for summer and warm in winter. When grown organically and processed in a green way, it can be an environmentally friendly, renewable, and sustainable choice.
Cotton can be used for the outer fabric and/or as the fill in mattress toppers. Cotton filled toppers are usually rated at a medium firmness.
The Mattress topper Hack – Choose a Mattress Topper Density that Matches the Desired Level of Support and Durability
Density refers to the amount of mass per unit of volume. When it comes to a mattress, it simply means the amount of the substance, such as foam, in a given space. For example, the greater the amount of foam "stuff," the greater the density of the mattress.
The mattress topper hack involves finding a mattress topper density that matches the desired level of support and durability. Choose a high density mattress topper that exceeds 3-4 lb/ft3 to maximize longevity and support during sleep.
Mattress toppers with a higher density, 4 lb/ft3 and above, have more foam material per unit volume and are therefore more durable than their low-density counterparts. The firmer mattress toppers can bear up better under repetitive use and have a longer wear and tear lifecycle. Thus, if you have a high-density topper—with adequate maintenance and care—it can, with no trouble, survive for years, even sometimes having double the lifespan as some low-density mattresses. To learn more about what density means for foam mattresses, visit “Novosbed Guide to Memory Foam Density” a reputable bed manufacturer who explains the difference between density and firmness in mattresses.
Cost Comparison between The Mattress Topper Hack and Buying a New Mattress
A good quality mattress represents a substantial investment that should last many years. It isn't something you want to throw out the minute it doesn't feel quite "right" anymore.
The mattress topper hack can save between $145 to $330, when compared with buying a new mattress, since the cost of a mattress topper is between $55-150 and the cost of a new basic mattress is approximately $200-385.
The amount this mattress hack will save will depend on the quality of the mattress you would have bought compared to the mattress topper you buy instead. The sky is truly the limit.
Comparison of Prices of Mattress Toppers Against New Mattresses of the Same Material
|Mattress Material||Mattress Topper Example||Cost of Mattress Topper||Regular Mattress Example||Cost of Regular Mattress|
|Latex||Sleep On Latex||~$130||PlushBeds Sofa Bed Mattress||~$385|
|Memory foam||Sure2Sleep||~$55||Live and Sleep||~$280|
|Wool||Organic Comfort Market||~$150||Home of Wool||~$945|
|Cotton and Polyester||Memory Loft||~$70||Serta||~$200|
Does the Mattress Topper Hack Prolong Mattress Life?
Whether a mattress is brand new or nearing the end of its life expectancy, a mattress topper can add years to its life.
The mattress topper hack can extend the life of a mattress by up to 2–3 years, when the mattress topper properties and materials are carefully considered. The earlier a mattress topper is used, the longer the mattress will last.
The mattress topper's outstanding feature is it's hygienic quality. They are easier to ventilate and wash than a mattress, and that helps to extend the life of the latter. Unlike a heavy mattress, a mattress topper is very easy to maintain. You can air it out and wash it more easily and more often. Depending on the mattress topper material chosen, it can usually be machine washed if the machine's capacity is sufficient, or taken to the laundry.
A mattress topper will protect the mattress from the full weight of the body and absorb much of the pressure that would wear out the mattress. This will maintain the integrity of the mattress's support for longer.
The mattress topper will also act as a barrier against moisture, dirt, and perspiration which will damage the mattress in the longer run. Ultimately, this will also limit the proliferation of bacteria, mold, and dust mites in the mattress.
When Not to Buy a Mattress Topper Instead of a Mattress?
A mattress topper can be a short-term solution to buy you some time until you are ready for the ultimate solution—purchasing a new mattress.
Don’t buy a mattress topper instead of a mattress when the mattress is 8–10 years or older, or completely worn out.
If your mattress is old and sprouting springs or indenting, a mattress topper is not the right solution. In this case, buying a mattress topper will just be spending extra money unnecessarily. The moment you lay the mattress topper on the bed, you will find out that your problem is not solved. That money would better be spent on purchasing a new mattress.
How To Use the Mattress Topper Hack to Make a Mattress Firmer
Over time, a mattress can become softer and lose some of its firmness. Or, as you get older you may start to prefer a firmer mattress than you once did. This conference paper studying the relationship between age, mattress material, and comfort by Jianjun Hou and Yuhun Zhang, showed that as the subjects' age increased, their preference for firmer mattress materials grew.
Follow these tips related to the mattress topper hack to make a mattress firmer: try out the mattress or mattress topper, lay the mattress on the floor or a board and place the mattress topper on top of it, dry out the mattress and topper, and then add a firmer mattress topper.
Tip 1. Use the Trial Days for Mattresses and Mattress Toppers
If your mattress is new, many vendors offer test periods that allow you to try out the new mattress before you commit to it. This will allow you to find out what the firmness of your mattress really is and what you might need in an added topper. You want to know how the mattress feels as it is "broken in" over time. Depending on the vendor, you can also get similar trial periods for mattress toppers, so you can find out if the topper is firm enough for your needs, especially if your mattress is older and past the trial period.
Tip 2. Put the Mattress on the Floor or on a Board with the Mattress Topper on top
To increase the firmness of the mattress, try laying your mattress on the floor, or put a plywood board under the mattress. This will support the mattress and help it feel firmer and more resilient. Keep in mind, a mattress topper can't replace all of the firmness for a mattress that has lost it all. A board, or the floor can help firm up the mattress enough that a mattress topper can make a marked difference. Our in-depth guide to choosing mattress topper size and thickness will help when choosing a mattress topper that is the correct size and thickness for the mattress.
Tip 3. Get Rid of the Moisture to Firm Up a Mattress and Mattress Topper
Sometimes, humidity and moisture can affect how firm a mattress feels. Like a big sponge, when your mattress and mattress topper absorb too much moisture they may become softer. If this is the case, simply lay the mattress and mattress topper in the sun, allowing them to dry out for a day. This may result in a firmer feel, especially if the mattress and mattress topper are made of foam. Read our other article on proper cleaning and care of mattress toppers.
Tip 4. Add a Firmer Mattress Topper
As a final step, if the mattress still needs to be firmer, we recommend adding a 3-inch medium or high-density memory foam or latex topper. Choose from either the natural latex or the cheaper synthetic, like this one from Amazon.
How to Use a Mattress Topper to Make a Mattress Softer
Sometimes a mattress turns out to be firmer than you want—or your needs or preferences have changed and you want a softer bed. (The life expectancy of a mattress can be a very long time, so it shouldn't be a surprise that preferences can change.) Could a mattress topper be the solution?
To use a mattress topper to make a mattress softer follow these tips: try the mattress topper, turn and flip the mattress and add a mattress topper on top of it, and then add a soft mattress topper.
Tip 1. Use the Trial Period for the Mattress or Mattress Topper
In the beginning, a new mattress may respond slowly to your body shape, weight, and temperature. So, give it a try for the 90-100 testing days and find out how soft the mattress really is, over time. Many vendors offer similar trial periods for mattress toppers.
Tip 2. Turn and Flip the Mattress to Maintain its Softness and Place a Mattress Topper on Top
If your mattress is getting older and it is not a pillow top, you should turn the mattress from time to time—head to feet, and then flip it right to left—to evenly distribute your weight and pressure over it. Then add your mattress topper on top of it. This can help keep its softness and support longer.
Tip 3. Add a Soft Mattress Topper
Finally, add a softer mattress topper onto the mattress that isn't soft enough. Choose a 2-inch cotton topper with feather and down filling to create a layer of softness without the feeling of sinking in. Or choose a soft foam topper. The thicker the topper, the more softness you can add. We suggest either this feather mattress topper or this thicker latex mattress topper, both form Amazon.
Will a Mattress Topper Help Revive an Old Mattress?
A mattress topper can revive a mattress that still has some life left in it.
A mattress topper will not help revive a mattress that is too old and worn out, but it might prolong the life of a moderately worn mattress.
If your mattress is older than 8 or 10 years, lumpy, indented, and/or shows signs of wearing, the mattress topper is probably not your best choice, as you might end up paying extra money on a fruitless endeavor. A new mattress is the best solution for a saggy and too old mattress, which should be replaced. Our article on when to buy a mattress topper vs. a new mattress will help give you more guidance.
Mattress toppers are ineffective when your mattress is completely sagging and carrying the weight of years (over a decade for mid-range models). Whereas, the comfort of a mattress that is already in good condition can be remarkably improved with a mattress topper. It's a simple way to soften a mattress that is too firm or make a too soft mattress feel firmer.