The ultimate guide to buying a new mattress

Buying the right mattress can be time-consuming and expensive — but it doesn't need to be! To help you out, our team combined years of sleep expertise and created the ultimate guide to buying a mattress. 

In this guide, you'll find everything you need to know about how to purchase a mattress from the difference between types, the questions you need to ask before you purchase and even how to keep your mattress in good shape for years to come. 

How to choose a comfortable mattress
What mattress size do I need?
What is a mattress in a box?
How much should you spend on a mattress?
Should I buy a mattress online?
Should I buy a mattress in-store?
How to compare mattresses in store
How often should I replace my mattress?
What if I buy a mattress and don't like it?
How to properly care for your mattress
What type of bed base should I use with my mattress?
How do I clean my mattress?
How do I store my mattress correctly?
Should I use a mattress protector?
Do I need to flip or rotate my mattress?
How to choose a high-quality mattress
Other factors to consider when choosing a mattress

 

Young woman jumping on to mattress next to partner 

How to choose a comfortable mattress 

choosing the right mattressChoosing a mattress you find comfortable is subjective and if you have a co-sleeper, this decision is best made together. The most reliable way to know if a mattress is going to suit you is to sleep on it for a minimum of 30 nights. This is because your body can take up to a month to adjust to a new comfortable mattress. Most online mattress retailers offer a trial period which allows you to do this. If choosing a mattress in-store, you most likely won't have this option.  

 


How firm should my mattress be?

how firm should my mattress be?

Similar to comfort, firmness can also be subjective and is affected by a range of factors such as weight, age, your partner and even pre-existing injuries. 

However, the most important factor when determining the firmness level is your sleeping position.

Soft Mattresses: Soft mattresses can work well for side sleepers as it allows for pressure relief around areas such as the shoulders and hips. The downside to soft mattresses is that many find they can lack support, and as a result, become uncomfortable over time.

Medium Mattresses: A mattress that is medium firmness can be great for overall support, especially for back and side sleepers. A medium mattress can also help align the spine whilst still offering pressure relief in areas that need it most.

Firm Mattresses: People who experience back issues generally prefer a firmer mattress. Stomach sleepers will also love the support a firm mattress provides. If you do suffer from back pain (or want to prevent it), it’s important to make sure your mattress provides you with adequate support.

Combination: Generally speaking, most sleepers prefer a mattress that sits somewhere in-between medium-firm. This is also a great option for couples who may have different sleeping positions. If looking for a medium-firm mattress, the firmness may be displayed as a ‘7-8 out of 10’. 

ideal mattress firmness

 


What type of mattress is best?

There's no one size fits all approach when it comes to the right mattress. Some prefer the feeling of memory foam, whilst others can only sleep on a spring mattress. We've broken down the different types below. 

Memory foam mattress

Pros 

  • Low partner disturbance 
  • Great for back pain or injuries

Cons

  • Can trap heat
  • Can feel too solid and not 'springy' enough for some 
  • Many brands lack edge support
  • 100% memory foam mattresses tend to have a shorter life expectancy than pocket spring or hybrid mattresses

Memory foam was first invented in 1966 by NASA to improve seat cushioning and crash protection for airline pilots. Since then, memory foam has evolved and become a popular choice for mattresses and pillows, as it distributes body weight evenly and offers zero partner disturbance.

However, a common complaint with memory foam is that it can sleep hot, due to foam commonly trapping heat. Luckily, this can be easily avoided by opting for a gel memory foam mattress, which is infused with millions of tiny gel beads to regulate temperature and keep you cool. Another option is to use a mattress topper made from natural materials to allow for airflow. Like spring mattresses, memory foam can vary from soft to firm. Medium to firm memory foam is often recommended for back pain since it provides plenty of support and pressure distribution.

According to the Sleep Health Foundation, the ideal temperature for getting to sleep is between 17 to 19 degrees Celsius. Any warmer, and you may have difficulty falling asleep. Choosing a mattress that offers proper airflow and cooling gel foam will help your body stay at its ideal sleeping temperature. 


Pocket spring mattress

Pros

  • Long-lasting
  • Breathable 
  • Great pressure relief 

Cons

  • High-quality springs can be heavy
  • Some brands are not hypoallergenic 

 

Spring mattresses were the first ‘traditional’ mattress to hit the market. Before their invention in 1871, beds were made out of feathers, corn or straw! However, whilst spring mattresses were a clear upgrade from their predecessors, it took many years of tweaking before they were considered comfortable or supportive. 

Spring mattresses come in a variety of different styles with the two main types being innerspring and pocket spring. 

Innerspring mattresses have interconnected spring systems and tend to have a “bouncy” feel. Whilst they can be durable, innerspring mattresses lack the ability to conform to the body’s pressure points. This can also lead to motion transfer issues. If partner disturbance isn’t an issue for you, innerspring mattresses can be an affordable yet long-lasting option. 

Pocket spring mattresses , on the other hand, have individually pocketed spring systems. This independent system provides more personalised support by contouring to the body and results in less partner disturbance. Pocket spring mattresses are also highly durable and often experience less sagging than other types of spring mattresses. Look for pocket springs that are ‘zoned’ as this means the tension of each spring will vary based on where you need the most support.


Latex mattress

Pros 

  • Ideal for asthma sufferers
  • Breathable
  • Quick recovery
  • Natural latex is environmentally friendly 

Cons

  • Not great for co-sleepers
  • Cheap, synthetic versions may cause allergies

 

Natural latex is a plant substance that is derived from the rubber tree, however, it can also be produced synthetically. Latex mattresses are very durable and are also hypoallergenic, making great for allergy sufferers.

As latex is a natural material, it is incredibly breathable and does not trap heat like some memory foams, making it a great option for warmer climates.

Whilst latex can be incredibly supportive, it does not isolate motion well, so partner disturbance will be higher than mattresses that contain memory foam. 


Hybrid mattress

Pros

  • Takes the best qualities from each mattress type (& may eliminate the cons)
  • Great for co-sleepers              
  • Doesn't retain heat 
  • Long-lasting 

Cons

  • Can be expensive 
  • Heavier than a foam only mattress 

 

Hybrid mattresses are, you guessed it, a combination of springs, memory foam, and other materials — meaning you can benefit from all the unique features each material has to offer! 

Springs and latex layers offset the “quicksand” feel of memory foam, and combining pocket springs with memory foam helps reduce motion transfer — so you can sleep soundly with a partner (or pet). Together these elements work to provide the sleeper with the ultimate comfort, support and breathability! 

eva mattress layers a hybrid mattress


The Eva Mattress 

If you want to experience the benefits of memory foam, latex and pocket springs, the Eva Mattress is a hybrid mattress which offers a 120-night risk-free trial. The mattress is made from a 5-zone pocket spring system that’s covered by a layer of both latex and memory foam. Together, these layers work to support the high pressure points of the body — providing serious comfort — along with maximising airflow and reducing partner disturbance. The Eva Mattress is a 4x award-winning mattress including most recently being awarded as a CHOICE Recommended mattress for 2020.

Choice recommended Eva Mattress on the Eva Bed Base

 

Learn more about the Eva Mattress.

What mattress size do I need?

The size of your mattress will depend on your height and the amount of space you have in your room. Make sure to measure your bed base before purchasing as some brands may use different sizing. If the mattress is higher than usual, you’ll need to measure your sheets to check if they fit. 

mattress size guide

Single Mattress: Great for a kids bedroom or if your room is lacking space.

King Single Mattress: If you’re looking for a mattress that can fit into a small room, a standard king single is great for adults as it is longer than a single. It’s also a suitable option for children who are growing quickly. 

Double Mattress: Believe it or not, a double mattress is shorter than a king single. Double mattresses are wider though, so will work better for two people. 

Queen Mattress: A popular mattress size as it fits two people comfortably and can be squeezed into most size bedrooms. 

King Mattress: If you've got the space, a king size mattress is the ultimate luxury! Perfect for when you have multiple co-sleepers such as pets or kids to make room for. 


What is a mattress in a box?

mattress is rolled up like a burrito to fit in a box

'Mattress-in-a-box', also known as 'bed-in-a-box', is typically an online offering that was popularised around 5 years ago. By selling the mattress directly to the consumer (and cutting out the middleman), mattress manufacturers can offer a price free from huge markups. Compressing the mattress to fit in a box involves deoxygenating the mattress and enclosing it in vacuum-sealed packaging. The mattress will remain ‘rolled up’ until the vacuum seal is opened. Once opened, the mattress quickly expands into its full size.

Mattress-in-a-box brands are usually 'foam only' mattresses. There are a few brands that offer hybrid mattresses in a box if you want the support of pocket springs and latex. 


How much should you spend on a mattress?

how much should a good mattress cost

Buying a comfortable, good-quality mattress no longer needs to cost a fortune. In fact, let go of the belief that higher price equals higher quality — it's not the case! In the past, traditional 'in-store' mattress companies would mark up their prices to cover the costs of their expensive showrooms. Now with many mattresses available for purchase online, companies can choose to ditch the showroom in order to offer their customers a fair price. From our research, $700-$1000 seems to be the average price for a queen size mattress. Paying any less might be suitable for a quick-fix, but may not last very long and could end up being more expensive in the long run. 


Should I buy a mattress online?

buy mattress online

 

Due to advances in technology, mattresses can be compressed into a box and delivered to your door without compromising on quality. If you choose a company with free delivery, a risk-free sleep trial and free returns, there's no reason you should have to go in-store. Most online mattress companies offer express delivery so that you can sleep on your new mattress as soon as possible! To get the best price for your mattress, wait for a sale or choose a company that offers a discount code. 


Should I buy a mattress in-store?

Buying a mattress in-store can be a great experience! However, you may be paying a higher price to cover the cost of the showroom and staff. To get the best deal on your mattress, you can often haggle with the sales assistant or shop around different stores to get the best price. It's a good idea to put aside plenty of time when shopping for a mattress in-store, as most don't offer change of mind returns. Remember to also check delivery times before making your purchase in-store, as many traditional retailers can take a few weeks to deliver. This is a lengthy amount of time compared to buying mattresses online, which can often be delivered the next day for free. 


How to compare mattresses online

comparing mattresses online

With so many brands to choose from, comparing mattresses can be an overwhelming task. If you want to skip countless hours of research, we've made a handy comparison table featuring a selection of mattress-in-a-box brands. 
If you would rather compare mattresses yourself, here’s the main features to look out for:

  • Mattress trial
  • Warranty
  • Return process
  • Materials used 
  • Certifications
  • Third party reviews & awards
  • Delivery 

How to compare mattresses in store

  1. Choose your type: Let the sales assistant know the type of mattress you are after (e.g spring, memory foam, latex or a hybrid).
  2. Take your time: You'll probably be spending 8-9 hours on a night on your mattress, so don't rush this process. Roll around, get in and out of bed, lie in different positions — just try not to fall asleep in the store.
  3. Bring your partner: If you have a co-sleeper, it's important that you get a feel for what the mattress is like when you both lie it. If you don't have a partner, it's always nice to bring a friend to test how the mattress handles partner disturbance.
  4. Ask the staff to give you space: Not many of us can relax with someone hovering over us. No matter how helpful or friendly the sales assistant is, buying a mattress can be a big commitment and you don't want to feel pressured when making a decision.
  5. Research the materials: Check the mattress is made from breathable materials that are certified to make sure they're free from chemicals. If choosing a memory foam mattress, opt for gel foam if you tend to sleep hot. 
  6. Only shop well-rested: Just like you shouldn't go to the supermarket when you're hungry, you shouldn't shop for a mattress when you're tired. The last thing you want is every mattress to feel amazing, just because you're desperate for a nap! 

How often should I replace my mattress?

Depending on the type of mattress, a good-quality mattress should last for at least 10-15 years if properly cared for. Always check the terms of the warranty before purchasing your mattress. Companies may offer a 15-year warranty, but it might be limited and not cover certain issues. 

If your mattress is starting to sag, feel uncomfortable, or is causing you poor quality sleep — it's probably time for an upgrade! 

A good mattress warranty will cover:  

  • Body impressions, visible indentation, sag (usually 3cm) in the mattress surface. 
  • The mattress being shorter than the Australian standard in any one direction by more than 5cm when measured from tape to tape.
  • The mattress failing to inflate to its full size (mattress-in-a-box only)

What if I buy a mattress and don't like it?

Many reputable brands offer mattress trials from 30 - 120 days. This will allow you to sleep on the mattress in the comfort of your own home to make sure it is right for you. Read the fine print before sleeping on your mattress, as some companies cannot accept the return if the mattress is dirty or damaged. This is because the returned mattresses are donated to charity or recycled. 

It's a good idea to take note of the level of customer service you experience when shopping around for a mattress too, as this may determine how easy the return process will be. 


How to properly care for your mattress  

rotate your mattress

Caring for your mattress doesn't need to be a hassle. Regular rotating, cleaning of the mattress and using the right bed base will ensure it stays  comfortable and supportive. It's also important to keep liquids and food away from your mattress, use a mattress protector when possible and always store the mattress correctly when it's not in use. 


What type of bed base should I use with my mattress? 

As a rule of thumb, the best bed base for your mattress is a flat, solid base that allows the mattress to breathe properly. Flat, slatted bases, such as the Eva Timber Bed Base, tend to be best for this. If using a slatted base, make sure the slats are no more than 8cm apart for adequate support. Some brands offer 'flexi slats' which are slightly curved and may not be as supportive as flat, solid slats. In some cases, the use of an incorrect base can void the mattress warranty, so it's best to check this before you purchase. 

Man and woman assembling bed base with dog
The Eva Timber Bed Base

 

Ensemble or box spring bases may cause partner disturbance or feel too 'springy' when used with a pocket spring mattress. You may need to avoid spring mattresses if you use an adjustable bed base, as this can damage the springs. 

If you are shopping for a bed base at a department store or purchasing from overseas, make sure you measure the base to check if it is made to standard Australian mattress sizes. 


How do I clean my mattress? 

cleaning mattress

Different mattresses may require different techniques, but most mattresses can be thoroughly cleaned with the following method:

  1. Strip all bedding from the mattress and wash as per care instructions.
  2. Use your vacuum on the highest setting to remove dust, dead skin, hair and other debris from the mattress.
  3. Use a fabric stain remove/enzyme cleaner and a toothbrush to gently remove any stains. Do not spray the liquid directly on to the mattress and use as little as possible. Mattresses are not designed to get wet. 
  4. For tough stains, combine 2 tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide and 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap in a small bowl. Follow the above instructions to remove the stain. Wipe off any residue with a damp cloth when finished.
  5. Once the stains have been removed, cover the mattress with a layer of bicarb soda to deodorise the mattress.
  6. Wait at least 30 minutes before vacuuming the bicarb soda up. Make sure to get into the cracks or stitching where necessary. Empty the vacuum after use. 
  7. If possible, leave the mattress to sit in direct sunlight for a few hours. This will remove moisture and bacteria from the mattress. If you can open up the windows to air out the mattress — even better! 


How do I store my mattress correctly? 

If you've gone to the effort of buying a quality mattress, there may be times when you are required to store the mattress. Follow the below steps to keep your mattress in good shape:

  1. Clean the mattress as above.
  2. Once dry, cover the mattress with a light plastic or a mattress bag to ensure it does not get wet. Mattress bags are preferable if storing the mattress for long periods of time, as they allow the mattress to breathe. These can be purchased from your local hardware store.
  3. Store the mattress flat (as you would if you were sleeping on it). Do not store your mattress on its side as this will cause damage. When moving, it’s fine to carry the mattress on its side for a short period of time. 
  4. Keep heavy objects away from the mattress and do not place anything directly on top of the mattress
  5. If renting a storage unit, opt for a climate-controlled unit that will safeguard your mattress from severe temperature changes.


Should I use a mattress protector?

The best way to care for your mattress is to invest in a mattress protector. Some protectors can also add an extra layer of comfort if need be. 
To find the best mattress protector:

  • Choose a protector made from natural, breathable materials (e.g wool, cotton, Tencel, bamboo, etc) so that your mattress does not become hot.
  • Make sure it can be washed (or fit) in your washing machine. This will make your mattress much easier to keep clean. 
  • Ensure it is sturdy enough to protect your mattress from stains (important if you're on a sleep trial)

Do I need to flip or rotate my mattress?

flipping your mattress

For mattresses that have a designated top and bottom, rotate the mattress 180 degrees every three months to ensure even wear and to increase the lifespan of the mattress. Some older mattress designs can also be flipped over if they do not have designated top or bottom. If this is the case, it's still a good idea to rotate the mattress in between flipping. 


How to choose a high-quality mattress 

high quality mattress

Once you have selected the type of mattress that suits your needs, there are a few ways to make sure it is going to stand the test of time. No matter if you purchase a mattress in-store or online, always ask the sales assistant for information on:

  • Warranty
  • Length of mattress trial
  • Return process
  • Materials used (are they natural & breathable or synthetic)
  • Certifications
  • Is the mattress hypoallergenic & dust mite resistant 
  • Type of bed base it is best suited to
  • How to clean the mattress

This information should help you evaluate whether or not the mattress is of good quality. 


Other factors to consider when choosing a mattress 

Mattress Reviews

If possible, always read the reviews of the mattress before you commit. These will give you an honest indication of the customer service, delivery, feel of the mattress and overall quality from customers who have experienced the mattress first hand. Independent websites like Product Review and CHOICE are handy resources where you can read genuine reviews. 

How to throw away an old mattress 

You've finally found the perfect mattress and it's coming next week! Hooray! But in all the excitement of purchasing a new mattress, you forgot to organise the removal of your old one! Luckily, there are a few convenient options consider: 

Recycle your mattress:

Soft Landing is a national social enterprise operating across NSW, ACT, VIC and WA. They divert mattress waste from landfill and recover the components to recycle. So far, they have recycled over one million mattresses Australia-wide. 

Soft Landing also offers employment opportunities for people who experience barriers entering the workforce.

Bookings can be made online and the cost is around $50 per mattress. Depending on demand, collection can take a few weeks so allow plenty of time.

Donate to charity 

donate mattress to charity

If your mattress is still in great condition (free from stains, discolouration or damage) you can organise for it to be dropped to a local charity. Certain charities are also able to collect the mattress from you. It may take up to 14 days for the charity to collect the mattress.

Hard rubbish collection

Check with your local council to find out when your free collection is. For most councils, you'll receive two free pick-ups a year for hard waste. Depending on your area, you can also book these in outside of the set collections days for a small fee.

Buying a mattress isn’t always an easy decision, especially if you’re going to be spending the next 10-15 years of life sleeping on it. Now that you’re armed and at the ready with all these tips we’ve listed out, you should be well on your way to buying the right mattress for you. If you’re still unsure, feel free to contact us and our customer service team will be happy to help.