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Why Are Mattresses White? (And How to Keep Them That Way)

Why Are Mattresses White? (And How to Keep Them That Way)

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Over the past few decades, mattress technology has improved by leaps and bounds. There are lots of different kinds of mattresses on the market these days – so many, in fact, that you’d be forgiven for being a bit overwhelmed by the types and terms.

Read on to learn everything that you need to know about mattresses.

Mattress Types

There are several different types of mattresses, all with their own individual benefits and drawbacks. There is no universally accepted “best” type of mattress because everyone has different needs and wants for their mattresses.

Innerspring: The innerspring mattress is the best-known and most popular kind of mattress. It’s what most people think about when they think of mattresses.

They are made of steel coils that compress under the weight of people on the bed. Mattresses with more densely packed coils provide more support.

The mattress usually has a padded or pillow top over the coils. Innerspring mattresses range in price from budget to luxury, so they are available for all budgets, and they are easy to find in most stores that sell mattresses.

Memory Foam: Memory foam was invented by NASA in the 1970s. It was intended to improve the safety of cushions on aircraft, but once it became well-known in the 1990s, it made its way into people’s bedrooms.

Memory foam contours to the body to provide cushioning, support, and proper alignment of the spine. While there are entry-level memory foam mattresses as well as more luxurious ones, they are not inexpensive.

Gel: When people talk about gel mattresses, they usually mean memory foam infused with cooling gel. Memory foam tends to run hot, since it limits air flow around the body.

Gel mattresses are infused with a cooling gel technology to keep sleepers cool through the night.

Latex: Latex is an all-natural mattress option since it is made from the sap of the rubber tree (if this matters to you, make sure to look at natural latex as opposed to synthetic latex).

It offers pressure relief and contours to the body the way that memory foam does, but it also offers more bounce and retains less heat. Latex mattresses tend to be fairly costly.

Hybrid: Hybrid mattresses try to offer the best of both worlds. They usually consist of a coil/innerspring base topped with layers of latex, memory foam, or gel-infused memory foam.

This kind of construction means that mattress buyers have lots of choices since the mattresses can be designed to emphasize certain features and properties.

Why Are Mattresses White?

Well, of course, they aren’t all white. Most people have seen mattresses with stripes, patterns, or other colors in the mattress ticking (ticking is the final outer cover of a mattress, and it is almost always fabric or another type of textile).

But the truth is that the vast majority of mattresses in showrooms and on sale online today are white, off-white, or majority white. Without labels or other branding features, most mattresses would look pretty much the same.

Mattresses used to be more colorful. In the 1990s, for instance, you could find mattresses in bright colors and patterns.

But that started to change as the mattress industry started to change. Manufacturing, supply chain, and logistics in the industry evolved so that retailers did not have to stockpile as many mattresses and manufacturers could move toward a just-in-time strategy.

Mattresses made it to the retailers with less miles traveled and less handling, which also meant less chance of getting banged up and looking dirty when they arrived at the store. Some manufacturers started making mattresses with white or neutral tickings, and they soon became very popular.

The mattresses with neutral covers sold well in part because they were neutral. People didn’t necessarily love them, but they also didn’t reject otherwise suitable mattresses because they objected to the color and pattern on the ticking.

Buyers also appreciated the white or neutral-colored mattresses because they could put any color sheets on them without the color or pattern of the mattress showing through. They also liked that the white or light neutral mattresses conveyed a clean, fresh feeling.

With manufacturing and distribution moving to more streamlined models, as described above, it became the obvious choice to focus on the mattresses with white and neutral ticking. Over the next several years, white and neutral mattresses made up the majority of the market.

Several manufacturers did produce mattresses with colored or patterned ticking, but as a whole, they sold very poorly. It was clear that customers wanted white and neutral mattresses, and that’s what they got and continue to get.

Cleaning a Mattress

With all the advantages and benefits of white and pale neutral mattresses, one disadvantage is that they can look dirty or dingy easily. One way to prevent that is to use a mattress protector over the mattress and under the sheets.

Mattress protectors come in sizes to fit all mattresses, and they come in a variety of materials. They are almost universally white, so you will be able to keep the look of your white mattress easily.

If you do need to clean your mattress, however, follow these steps:

  1. Strip the bed and wash all the bedding. Wash in hot water if it’s safe for the fabric, and wash the pillows too if they are washable.
  2. Vacuum the mattress with your vacuum’s upholstery attachment. Make sure to vacuum the sides, around the seams, and in any crevices.
  3. Spot-clean the mattress with an enzyme cleaner, highly diluted dish soap, or diluted hydrogen peroxide if the mattress allows. Innerspring mattresses can usually be spot-cleaned, while memory foam mattresses should not get wet at all.
  4. Deodorize the mattress. If it is possible, drag it out to the porch or deck and let it sit in the sun for a few hours since the sun is a natural disinfectant; otherwise, sprinkle it with baking soda, let it sit, and vacuum it again.
  5. Rotate the mattress, and flip it if it is an innerspring or otherwise flippable mattress. Make the bed back up again and enjoy!

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