How to Fix a Mattress

Introduction: How to Fix a Mattress

About: I design products that break the consumer trap of buying cheap home goods and tossing them a few years later. We can all just stop doing that and go back to a time where if you needed something you would mak...

Welcome to my Instructable, a no-sew fix for a sagging or worn-out mattress.

This instructable could also be titled:

How to make an organic mattress - or - Upgrade your existing mattress to organic.

No special skills are needed.

This project is rated as EASY.

Project time: A few hours

In this Instructable, I am going to show you how to take a worn-out foam mattress and turn it into an organic hemp hull mattress that is one size larger (or more) than the mattress you start with.

You will be able to create a new, semi-firm mattress that is great for your back and can improve your sleep.

A mattress you will never need to replace because it can never wear out, develope a sag or dip. You will always have control over how your mattress feels because you can smooth and level your mattress whenever you want.

Imagine never having to mattress shop again!

Supplies:

- A worn-out mattress. If you do not have an old mattress you could use scraps of natural latex or old pillows for your soft base layer.

- One fitted 100% cotton jersey sheet. It is important that it is a jersey knit sheet.

Sizing is discussed in Step 2. You will need different size sheets depending on what size mattress you want to upgrade to.

- 6-ounce bottle of Bish's Original Tear Mender (an awesomely strong, non-toxic fabric glue made from natural tree rubber- aka natural *latex) I bought mine at Tractor Supply but you can also find it on Amazon.

- Certified Organic Hemp Hulls available here. The amount will vary based on the size mattress you are making (amounts listed in Step 2)

*This project can also be machine and hand-sewn if you have a latex allergy.

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: Decide If an Organic Hemp Hull Mattress Is Right for You

What are hemp hulls?

Hemp hulls are the tiny outer protective casing of the hemp seed. Hemp hulls have been around as long as the hemp plant has been grown, but have never before been available in bulk quantities.

Now that hemp has been legalized to grow in the US, hemp seed oil has become a popular commodity. Hemp oil production provides large quantities of hemp hulls.

Hemp hulls have no nutritional value so they will not attract pests. Hemp is not the same as marijuana due to the low THC levels. You cannot get high on hemp.

This amazing plant can be used to make so many useful products and now mattresses can be added to the list.

What does a hemp hull mattress feel like?

A hull mattress is firm yet forgiving. Supportive. A soft mattress may feel good at first but really is not good for our bodies. Firm and contouring mattresses reverse the front-loaded postures most people are in most of the day such as sitting at a desk, looking down at your phone and driving.

You will sleep deeper with less tossing and turning. Your back will feel better and you will feel more rested each day.

Maintaining your hemp hull mattress.

You will want to maintain your mattress, smoothing the surface hulls level every few days or so. It only takes a minute! This is how your new mattress remains supportive and can never deform. You will be sleeping on a hemp beach that you have complete control over. Smoothing your mattress is an enjoyable, meditative experience.

About this fix.

A weighty vesicle made from a standard fitted sheet is laid over an old mattress, natural latex scraps, pillows or any other soft materials you can find. The sheet material must be a jersey knit as it needs to stretch. The sheet is simply glued into a large pouch (just one seam) and the certified organic hemp hulls are poured in.

Hemp hulls contour similar to sand, filling in the uneven surface below while staying level at the top. The stretch of the cotton jersey fabric allows the hulls to shift and mold to your body while you sleep.

One thing to note about this fix: the end result will make a larger mattress than the one you are fixing if covering an existing mattress. If you wish to upgrade to an organic mattress but have it remain the same size, you should consider using the scrap natural latex for your base layer.

"Why not make a new mattress out of only hemp hulls and just get rid of my old mattress"?

Hemp hulls need to be placed on a forgiving, soft surface. Without a soft base, the hulls would be too firm and could grind down under a person's weight. Being a natural material means hemp hulls will break down over time and eventually need to be added to (or replaced) but from our experience with sleeping on hulls, this can take decades.

The need for a soft base + having an old mattress handy works out to be a fantastic match and prevents having to expend energy and resources to manufacture a new soft platform material.

Hemp hulls, on their own, also are not soft enough for most people to sleep on. I tried this without success. I prefer a firm mattress, but the hemp hulls were too firm. Adding the soft layer below solved this problem and created a firm yet forgiving surface that feels like a soft sandy beach. There is very little spring to this mattress which I find to be the key to a great night's sleep.

Is this a real mattress that I can buy?

This project is in the development phase to explore it's potential a mass-manufactured mattress topper but for now, it is just an Instructable showing how it can be done. The photos show the mattress I made and that I currently sleep on every night. Four months in and I still absolutely love it!

I am confident it will be joining the ranks of the Mattress Kits we currently sell. One problem with it being a mass-manufactured topper is the weight and how it could be delivered and set up for the customer.

You will need a solid platform base for your mattress.

Slatted frames or ones with build in springs or any movement will not work with a hull filled mattress. Hulls can squeeze through any gap. Our bedframe does have a few 1" airflow gaps. I simply laid down a wool blanket before assembling my mattress and that was enough to bridge the gaps. A hull mattress is heavy and needs to be made in place. To move your mattress you will need to empty the hulls from the sheet. I have had to do this a few times during my designing and testing of this mattress concept and I found it quite easy to do but a bit time-consuming. This is not a mattress you will want to move often!

The bedframe also must also now accommodate a mattress that is one size up from your old mattress. Our bedframe luckily is adjustable in length and width. You can check it out here.

Make a sample to feel before committing to an entire mattress:

You can make a sample from a jersey cotton pillowcase, a scrap of foam and about 15-20 pounds of hulls to see what the mattress would feel like.

Step 2: Calculating the Supplies Needed for Different Mattress Sizes

Remember if covering an existing mattress you must make a mattress at least one size larger than your old mattress as you will want the hulls to drape over the edges of your existing mattress.

If you want a mattress that is the same size as your old mattress, I suggest taking it apart and cutting down the foam to measure one mattress size smaller, then rebuilding it back to its original size with hemp hulls!

I will include a mattress size diagram above for reference.

Extremely thick mattresses will not work well and may introduce too much movement in your mattress. You must reduce your mattress to 4-6 inches thick if you can. You can easily remove old pillow tops and disassemble your old mattress to reuse the raw foam slabs. A quick Google search shows how to do this with a large kitchen knife (please be careful!).

How to make a Queen mattress

from an old Twin mattress: you will need one King size fitted jersey cotton sheet and 240 lbs of hemp hulls

from an old Full mattress: you will need one King fitted jersey cotton sheet and 240 lbs of hemp hulls

from an old Queen mattress cut down to a Full: one King fitted jersey cotton sheet and 240 lbs of hemp hulls

from scrap natural latex: you will need one King fitted jersey cotton sheet and 240 lbs of hemp hulls

from pillows: you will need one King fitted jersey cotton sheet and 240 lbs of hemp hulls + 16 pillows

*See our note below on sizing for scrap natural latex foam and pillows

240 lbs of hemp hulls = 5 bulk bags

How to make a Full mattress

from an old Twin mattress: you will need one Queen fitted jersey cotton sheet and 192 lbs of hemp hulls

from an old Full mattress (or larger) cut down to a Twin: one Queen fitted jersey cotton sheet and 192 lbs of hemp hulls

from scrap natural latex: you will need one Queen fitted jersey cotton sheet and 192 lbs of hemp hulls

from pillows: you will need one Queen fitted jersey cotton sheet and 192 lbs of hemp hulls + 12 pillows

*See our note below on sizing for scrap natural latex foam and pillows

192 lbs of hemp hulls = 4 bulk boxes

How to make a Twin mattress

from old sofa cushions or pillows: you will need one Full fitted jersey cotton sheet and 144 lbs of hemp hulls

from scrap natural latex: you will need one Full fitted jersey cotton sheet and 144 lbs of hemp hulls

from pillows: you will need one Full fitted jersey cotton sheet and 144 lbs of hemp hulls + 8 pillows

*See our note below on sizing for scrap natural latex foam and pillows

144 lbs of hemp hulls = 3 bulk boxes

How to make a King Mattress

**For a King Size Mattress Fix, use 2 Twin hemp mattresses (see materials above) laid side by side and by and cutting your existing mattress in half or use natural latex scraps instead**

from a full mattress: you will need two Full fitted jersey cotton sheets and 288 lbs of hemp hulls

from an old Queen mattress: you will need two Full fitted jersey cotton sheets and 288 lbs of hemp hulls

from scrap natural latex: you will need two Full fitted jersey cotton sheets and 288 lbs of hemp hulls

from pillows: you will need two Full fitted jersey cotton sheets 288 lbs of hemp hulls + 16 pillows

*See our note below on sizing for using scrap natural latex foam and pillows

How to make a Toddler Mattress

from scrap natural latex: you will need one Twin fitted jersey cotton sheet and 96 lbs of hemp hulls

from pillows: you will need one Twin fitted jersey cotton sheet and 96 lbs of hemp hulls + 4 pillows

Note: After sealing your sheet, shift all your hulls to the center and fold and tuck the excess length of the sheet under the mattress to shorten the length to fit your toddler size bed frame. This way as your toddler grows, you can lengthen the mattress to grow with him/her!

*See our note below on sizing for using scrap natural latex foam and pillows

How to make a large Pet Bed

(can be made the same as a toddler mattress)

from scrap natural latex or old pillows: you will need one Twin fitted jersey cotton sheet and 96 lbs of hemp hulls

*Sizing for scrap natural latex. You should calculate enough to lay foam that is between 20 - 24 inches in width by a minimum of 60 inches in length for each sleeping zone. Scrap pieces piled and layered together are fine. Reuse, recycle! A Twin would have one zone, A Full to King, two zones.

Stack Standard to King size pillows 2 high or mix and match different size pillows, stuffed animals :), old plush blankets rolled up could work too!

Disclaimer: We are providing recommendations for materials based on the size of your old mattress and the size mattress you wish to make. It is possible the amount of hulls needed for your project may differ. The hull filling amount is based on the size, thickness, and density of your soft base layer. We cannot be held responsible for the difference in materials for your project as we are still in the process of testing this new mattress concept.

Step 3: Gluing Your Fitted Sheet

Fold your fitted sheet in half the long way. In kindergarten, they would tell you to fold it the hotdog way, not the hamburger way.

Take your time to make sure it is folded the long way and not the short way, measuring the sides folded both ways if you need to. Once you glue it, it will not come apart. Some sheets have seams down the corners. They should meet up along the seam if you have everything right.

Take your latex glue (Bish's Original) and shake it according to the directions. I have found it does not work as well if the bottle is cold. If your house is on the cool side sit the bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes before using it.

If you have never used Bish's, you may want to experiment on some scrap cotton fabric first. My first time trying to seam 2 pieces of fabric together I thought there was no way this milky, watery stuff was going to work but it does! You have to give it time to work and you must use enough to saturate the fabric. But not too much that it dripping all over. If some drips happen, don't worry because you are working on the back of the mattress and the latex will dry up and peel off your fingers easily. Just be mindful that the drips don't saturate through to the front of the sheet as it could create a seam where you do not want one.

Add the Bish's latex glue to the ripples in the fabric covering the elastic working a few inches in length at a time. Press each section together with your fingers by pinching along the seam for 15 - 30 seconds until it stays together on its own.

Work gluing the seam a few inches at a time until you get about 18 inches from the end - this will leave an opening for the hulls to go in. Give the entire seam a final press and then walk away and let it dry. The bottle says 3 minutes to dry but I recommend an hour as we will be stressing that seam with the weight of the hulls.

Before filling your sheet with hemp hulls, test your seam by trying to pull it apart. If it does not feel secure you can go back and reinforce things by working more latex into the seam right below where you seamed it originally. Adding a second seam cannot hurt but is usually not necessary if you did the first seam with enough glue.

As you can see in the last photo above, the glue dries to an ugly yellow color and the final result is not pretty - but it does make a very permanent bond. All the seams will be placed under the mattress so a little glue residue will not matter.

Step 4: Add Hemp Hulls and Glue Seam Closed

Place your sheet seam side up (to start) with the opening at the foot of the bed.

Important note: This mattress must be made in place, it cannot be moved around like a foam mattress.

Start scooping in your hemp hulls, or if you have two people working together you can stretch the opening around the entire 24-pound bag of hulls and simply dump it in one go (recommended as this makes this step go much faster).

Shake your hemp hulls down to the bottom of your sheet pouch after each bag is put in. Try and keep the huge pile toward the foot of the bed.

As the hulls go in and your pile gets taller, keep the opening on top of the pile of hulls inside the sheet. This will make it easier to tip and spread everything, seam facing down, across your old mattress.

Before tipping and spreading your huge bladder of hulls you will need to glue the seam closed. Do this the same way as before and give it the proper time to dry.

Hemp hulls will have a wonderful earthy scent, similar to cut grass! The smell is strong right out of the bag, and it will dissipate in a few days so your mattress will not have this wonderful smell for long. But don't worry, it will always have a faint smell if you press your nose into it.

Step 5: Spread Out Your Mattress

The next step, spreading out your hull filled sheet, gets a bit physical. I have to admit this part feels like you are wrestling with a hippo - thus my decision not to put up a video of me do this step :)

Take it slow and don't overexert yourself. If you have young kids they will probably want to jump in and help with this part so do let them!

Put on your yoga pants and hop on top of the mattress if it is easier. Start massaging your mattress even and smooth so the hemp filling creates a tightly fitted sheet and you no longer can see your old mattress (yay!). All the wrinkles in the sheep will disappear. This does take time.

The trick is to move the filling bit by bit. The more you smooth the more even your mattress becomes. Use scooping and sweeping motions with your arm across the mattress. You will be moving the hulls around under the sheet - it feels like sand at the beach.

Don't worry if you need a break. You can sleep on your mattress after you get it mostly spread out. The next day you can set your sights on the smoothing and getting that Instagram worthy After Photo.

Congratulations! With a little effort, you not only saved sending your old mattress to the landfill but you now can sleep easy knowing that you and your family are sleeping on the best organic materials nature provides.

Step 6: Sleep Well Knowing What Your Mattress Contains

The only way to truly know what is in your mattress is to make it yourself. If you have any concerns about what the foam in the old mattress, cushions or pillows you are using for this project contain (and you should) you can have it tested for free. Yep, for free!

Duke University is conducting an experiment on chemicals used in foams commonly found inside our homes. To test your home for these chemicals simply pinch a marble size piece of foam from each item in your home and submit it for testing.

SUBMIT YOUR SAMPLES FOR FREE USING THIS FORM.

Sleep well and chemical-free.

Step 7: Tips and Notes

Here I will reserve space to add Tips and Notes as more feedback and testing on this concept mattress comes in.

Notes:

The reason we do not recommend using old sofa cushions and scrap natural latex instead is due to the fact that many sofa's will, unfortunately, test positive for toxic chemicals that you or your children should not sleep on. If you wish you can test the foam in your cushions by submitting a sample per instructions in Step 6.

Tip:

The head and foot of your new mattress will come to a point due to the shape the fitted sheet folded in half makes. Simply pull up on the center seam to shake out the hulls and fold it under the mattress to square off the mattress. You can always go back and add another line of Bish's glue. I did not include this in the Instructions as I did not feel I needed to do this. Simply tucking in the ends of the seams and adding my top sheet did the trick.

Step 8: Makes the Best Bed for an Aging Dog

Make a pet bed and then try it out for yourself!

Fix It Contest

This is an entry in the
Fix It Contest

Be the First to Share

    Recommendations

    • Trash to Treasure Contest

      Trash to Treasure Contest
    • Rope & String Speed Challenge

      Rope & String Speed Challenge
    • Wearables Contest

      Wearables Contest

    Discussions