Don't neglect your bed. With the proper care, your mattress can live a long life.

Protect It
A mattress pad or cover is a must for keeping your mattress stain- and odor-free. A hypoallergenic cover will help prevent the build-up of dust mites and other organisms in the mattress. Because accidents happen, choose a waterproof pad or cover for the children's room.

It's not against the law, but you still shouldn't remove the tag after you purchase the mattress. It has information that you might eventually need for the warranty.

Flip It
Rotate your mattress regularly to prevent leaving body impressions. Recommendations vary, so check with the manufacturer for specific instructions. In general, you should turn and flip a mattress weekly for the first three months. After that, turn it every two or three months. Rotate the box spring head to toe twice a year.

Clean It
Vacuuming is the most recommended method for cleaning your mattress. Try to do this once a month. Wash your bed linens weekly in hot water, if possible, for best results. If you must tackle a stain, use a cleaner made for mattresses.

"Make Your Mattress Last" is from the April 2006 issue of Southern Living.

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