Packaged vacuum-sealed, these mattresses take the hassle out of mattress shopping.
By Belinda Castles
Research & test writer
If you’ve ever been bed shopping, you’ll know it’s a yawn. In-store, you’ll be swooped on by salespeople claiming to have a “deal for you”. It’s also difficult to make comparisons – mattress makers often give the same model a different name depending where it’s sold so you can’t shop on price.
Enter bed-in-a-box mattresses. Companies selling them keep the choices simple – many just sell one type of mattress, betting it’ll suit most sleepers. Packaged vacuum-sealed, they can be easily transported. When opened, the mattress expands into its full size.
Initially the domain of online-only retailers, big bed companies and retailers, such as BedsRus and Harvey Norman, have got in on the action. We’ve surveyed the offerings to see how they compare.
Returns and trial periods
The online-only pioneers of bed-in-a-box mattresses entice you with generous sleep trial periods – taking the risk out of your purchase. Trial periods range from 100 to 120 days. If you’re not happy, simply return the mattress for a full refund. Don’t worry, you don’t have to stuff it back in the box and it’ll be collected for free.
Terms and conditions vary between companies, but you must own the mattress for a minimum period, usually 30 days, before initiating a return.
All companies donate returned mattresses to charity. My Bed either donates to charity or auctions the mattress.
The other retailers don’t offer sleep trials. But you should be able to try their mattress in-store.
How much do they cost?
Bed-in-a-box mattresses are generally cheaper than conventional ones. The queen-sized mattresses in our survey ranged in price from $399 to $1850, compared with thousands for some in-store models. Look out for discount codes at online-only retailers. In-store, try haggling for a bargain.
Online-only retailers don’t charge for delivery. Unless you click and collect, other retailers charge a delivery fee, which varies depending on where you live.
What are they made of?
The first bed-in-a-box mattresses were made up of different foam layers. These included high-density polyurethane foam, gel-infused foam, latex foam or memory foam. Now, some companies combine foam layers with pocket springs (if you prefer the feel of a spring mattress).
When we previously tested performance of foam bed-in-a-box mattresses compared with an inner-spring mattress, the main difference was how firmness changed over time. The inner-spring mattress became firmer, while foam mattresses became softer. This was down to the different materials – foam softens, while metal springs get stiffer.
Some bed-in-a-box companies only offer one comfort level: there’s no choice between soft or firm. Others, such as Ecosa, offer different levels depending on how you arrange the different layers. You can change the comfort of the Peacelily Mattress by flipping it. Some brands sell an optional “pillowtop”, which lies on top of the mattress and makes it softer.
Despite up to 90 percent of mattress materials – such as timber, metal and foam – being recyclable, a lot of them end up in the landfill, due to the lack of recycling facilities.
BedsRus Sleepyhead Zero claims to be gentler on the planet because it’s recyclable. Once you’ve finished with it, you can return the Zero to where you bought it and Sleepyhead will process it into new products, such as carpet underlay. Instead of coming packaged in plastic and a cardboard box, this mattress comes in a reusable duffle bag with recycled cotton packaging.
There’s no shortage of other green claims on mattresses, from “eco-friendly” to “chemical-free”, “non-toxic” and “natural”. But these phrases are meaningless.
Look for independent certification to back up green claims. Certifications you may see include the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) labels.
GOTS requires at least 95 percent of the materials in the mattress to be certified organic and prohibits the use of chemicals commonly used in textile processing that can cause serious illness, such as chemical flame retardants and certain dyes. It also has other environmental and social criteria.
GOLS requires a latex mattress to be made of 95 percent organic latex, with restrictions on the other five percent and requirements for emissions testing. Latex mattresses may have both GOTS and GOLS labels.
The Oeko-Tex Standard 100 sets limits for the emission of specific chemicals, such as formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and bans the use of some others, such as flame retardants.
CertiPUR-US is another logo you may find on mattresses. This is an industry certification scheme and only applies to the polyurethane foam in a mattress. CertiPUR sets limits for VOCs and bans certain materials, such as formaldehyde and some phthalates and flame retardants.
“Dust mite resistant”
Some mattresses claim to be dust mite-resistant. Dust mites thrive in beds, where they feed on skin scales, and it’s their faeces that trigger asthma. However, you don’t need a special mattress to avoid dust mites. You can buy allergen-exclusion covers for your mattress, pillows, bed base and duvet inner. They allow moisture to escape but keep mites and their debris out. Air blankets and duvets weekly and vacuum your mattress regularly.
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