Memory foam is one of the most popular mattress materials, at least in part because of its durability but mostly for instant snuggling comfort. It fits pretty much all sleeping positions and body types, which is why you’ll see plenty of fully foam mattresses in our best mattress guide.
But how long does a memory foam mattress last? And what affects their longevity? First, it depends on their ingredients – there is a huge difference in quality and durability between the cheapest models and the best memory foam mattresses. Here we take a look at how long you can expect your life to last, and how to extend that life so you get more value for your money.
What is the memory foam mattress?
Memory foam (also known as viscous polyurethane foam) is a type of polyurethane foam. Developed by NASA in the 1960s for use in space plane seats, this synthetic foam has since been put up for use in a variety of consumer products from mattresses to slippers.
The name “memory foam” was coined because the foam has the ability to temporarily hold something that puts pressure on the foam. So, if you lie on a foam mattress and stand up again, you’ll see what your body looks like for a little while because the foam keeps your body’s “memory”.
Because memory foam adapts more to the body as heat and pressure persists, these mattresses are known for shaping and “cuddling” the body for excellent pressure relief.
In the case of memory foam, polyurethane is treated with certain chemicals to increase its density and viscosity, causing the material to react with your body heat and slowly adapt to your shape.
Interesting fact: Memory foam is not a single material but a name for a wide range of similar foams. Depending on the brand, you’ll come across memory foam with a number of different response times (how fast or slow it takes shape and later recovers its shape), in different durability ratings, and is infused or cut in different ways to enhance airflow.
How long do memory foam mattresses last?
A memory foam mattress lasts an average of six to ten years before it loses its shape and ability to shape your body, but some can last for 15 years or more. There are many factors that affect longevity and determine whether your mattress will end up shorter or longer than this lifespan.
Quality beds naturally last longer than cheaper models because they use more durable foam. The upside to this is that it improves sleep comfort for you, as you’ll feel cooler and better supported.
In general, memory foam mattresses are among the most durable of the beds and can last longer than hybrids because they are made with fewer components (such as coils) that are prone to deterioration faster.
How to determine the longevity of memory foam
There are other ways to measure how long a foam mattress will last, and they include the following:
When used in relation to memory foam, density is measured in pounds per cubic foot (PCF). Low PCF foam degrades faster than high PCF foam (the longer lasting), so the higher the density of the foam used in your mattress, the longer it will last. These cost more, because high-density memory foam is expensive.
Indentation load deflection (ILD)
This scientific term refers to the hardness of the foam, and is usually tested by a heavy-duty machine that compresses a sample of foam to 25% of its original thickness (height).
A higher ILD is usually found on stiffer foams, while softer foams have a lower ILD. Thicker layers of foam will also have a higher ILD as more pressure will be required to compress it, so it will withstand more wear and tear in the years to come.
The length of the warranty offered is a good indication of how long you can expect your memory foam mattress to last – or at least how long you can expect a certain level of coverage. Most warranties last ten years, but there are lifetime warranties on all-foam mattresses from the likes of Saatva, Nectar, DreamCloud, and Avocado.
What else affects the longevity of memory foam
You will still need to air and rotate your mattress regularly, and always keep it covered with a good quality mattress protector to reduce sweat, body oils and spills that seep into the mattress because they can cause the foam to deteriorate faster. If you jump or jump on the memory foam mattress, it will sag and fall faster.
The bed frame you place on it can also cause early sagging if you have a slat base where the slats are too far apart – the foam will seep through, causing early sagging and physical discomfort to your spine because you won’t be properly supported and aligned. Having a support base is one way to fix a saggy mattress.
Mattresses naturally degrade over the years regardless of their material, and yellow spots on the mattress are a telltale sign of aging.
How to make a memory foam mattress last longer
Clean it at least twice a year
All mattresses should be cleaned regularly, with removable covers being washed frequently and the mattress vacuumed to remove dust and debris. Learning how to clean your mattress properly will help your foam mattress to last longer, as it will be exposed to less sweat, oils, bacteria and other nasty things that can creep in.
To increase the life of your bed, aim to clean your foam mattress at least twice a year. If you spill food or drink on it (or vomit or urine occurs there), treat it immediately with a spot cleaning to reduce deep staining and material damage.
Give it a proper foundation to rest on
Make sure your memory foam mattress is on a firm, good quality base. Check the mattress manufacturer’s instructions, as some mattresses can only be used on specific grounds. But in general, solid bases or polygon bases are fine. Make sure the slats are not spaced too far apart or the memory foam bed will not be supported properly and the material may be damaged.
It is essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions here because not using a support base not only damages the mattress, but may also void your warranty. Improper support will cause sagging, indentations, and loss of shape.
Rotate it every three months
Memory foam naturally softens over time, so it should be rotated regularly to spread wear and tear. How often should you rotate a mattress? quarterly. Make sure your mattress can be rotated, as your mattress cannot be rotated. A few mattresses can also be inverted, but this is unusual with box mattresses, which are generally designed with a defined top and bottom.
Use a bed sheet
These clever attachments absorb some of the natural wear and tear of memory foam mattresses, helping them last longer. They can also be used to add stiffness and softness to an all-foam bed that doesn’t quite fit you. For our experts’ recommendations, see our guide to this year’s best mattress covers for all budgets.
Signs that your foam mattress needs replacing
There are some signs that a memory foam mattress needs replacing. While the average foam bed will last for six years or more, cheaper models or those not properly cared for will show signs of replacement sooner. On the flip side, a well-kept bed will take longer to show signs of wear.
But if you have three or more of the following that resonate with you, it’s time to consider replacing your memory foam mattress:
- You constantly wake up with pain or stiffness
- Your body sinks farther into the mattress to feel comfortable
- There is wide sagging across the mattress
- It now retains a lot of heat, making you feel hot in bed
- Covered in stains and fabric tears (bacteria will love it)