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Foams, Gels and Latex - A Guide to Proper Mattress Care


Man cleans mattress with blue towel | Mattress care

There are many materials involved in mattress making. You’re probably already familiar with innersprings and memory foam, two prevalent technologies in the mattress industry. However, there’s a great deal of variety in the types of foams used. In fact, not all memory foam is exactly the same, despite the common name.

Moving Beyond the Coil

The humble innerspring coil is one of the pivotal inventions in mattress history, and it remains a common technology today. Modern innersprings bear only a minor resemblance to their older predecessors, however, as sleep research moves ever onward! Springs by themselves grant strong support with active resistance to weight, but the means of making them comfortable comes in the form of various foams.

Foam and Comfort Layers

Read any mattress’s product description and you’ll see lots of references to “comfort layers” and a general use of the term “foam.” Comfort layers build on the core support of an innerspring coil system in innerspring mattresses, as well as the core, denser foam in innerspring-free mattresses. Usually there are multiple comfort layers, each with its own density to create the intended comfort experience. It’s important to understand the distinction between these comfort layer foams and memory foam, which is a different sleep technology.

Memory Foam

Memory foam molds to pressure and provides excellent motion isolation. This latter quality means that one person doesn’t feel another person’s movement in bed. Meanwhile, the molding properties allow for pressure relief over the active resistance of springs. One key drawback to be aware of is that memory foam traps body heat, which can leave you too warm to sleep comfortably. Manufacturers often include cooling technologies to help offset this effect.

Caring for memory foam

The first step in taking proper care of a memory foam mattress is to invest in a quality mattress protector. This is important because memory foam will absorb moisture, but its density and subsequent lack of air flow prevent easy evaporation. Trapped moisture can be a haven for bacteria, so it’s best to prevent its absorption in the first place.

If the mattress requires cleaning, first remove the cover and vacuum the mattress surface. Next, use diluted detergent or even a fabric cleaner diluted with two parts warm water to one part cleaner to clean the affected area. Stubborn stains may require the addition of baking soda, which doubles as a deodorizer. 

Once the spot is clean, make sure to dry the area with a hairdryer, since memory foam isn’t very breathable. To do this, keep the dryer 4-6 inches above the surface and dry in circular motions until the spot is dry to the touch.

Gel-Infused Memory Foam

As mentioned previously, memory foam tends to trap body heat. There are many ways that manufacturers address this drawback, and gel-infused memory foam is a popular solution. When you see the term “gel-infused,” it means the memory foam is infused with gel microbeads. These microbeads make the memory foam more breathable, which helps to keep the sleeper cool. Gel microbeads also make the foam denser, which creates a soft but firm experience. As for care, use the same procedure as a standard memory foam mattress.


Latex makes a great mattress material because it’s naturally durable and firm, while still providing pressure relief. Compared to memory foam, latex is bouncier, which means it doesn’t isolate motion as well. On the upside, latex is much more breathable than memory foam, leaving you naturally cooler as you sleep. A better comparison is latex to innerspring. Latex provides the firm support one expects from an innerspring mattress, but usually lasts a good 10 years or more without sag or deformity. Latex is also naturally hypoallergenic and antimicrobial.

Caring for a latex mattress

The key to proper care of a latex mattress is firstly to consider a mattress protector. If your latex mattress still requires cleaning, however, you’ll want to use warm water with a few drops of mild dish detergent. Avoid using harsh chemicals because they can damage the latex material. Once the affected area is clean, you can allow the mattress to air dry.

Your Partner in Better Sleep

Whether you’re buying a mattress or need to know how to care for one, trust City Mattress to be your guide. Our knowledgeable and friendly Sleep Experts are here to make your mattress experience stress free. Let us help you find the ultimate sleep solution you deserve!