A squeaky bed is one of life’s minor annoyances, like a dripping faucet or a kitchen cabinet that doesn’t quite close all the way. It’s one that, if you’re trying to have an evening of surreptitious sex, you’ll definitely want to fix. Because if you don’t know how to stop a bed from squeaking, kid number one is going to hear you trying to make kid number two, leading to a startling encounter and awkward conversation. And since having a kid shouldn’t mean celibacy, knowing how to stop a bed from squeaking is a mandatory skill.
READ MORE: The Fatherly Guide to Sex After Kids
In most cases, fixing a squeaky bed isn’t too hard; an Allen wrench and some WD-40 should do the trick. We spoke to several mattress experts and got the low down on how to quiet a noisy bed. Their suggestions are better than having floor sex, cheaper than buying a new bed, and less defeating than you and your wife waiting until the kid’s out of the house to go to town.
Find the squeak
The source of a bed squeak can be like Daniel Bryan: hard to pin down. So the first step is to identify what part of the bed is squeaking through the process of elimination.
“You diagnose it by taking it apart, separating the mattress, the box spring, and the frame, and putting force on all of them separately while listening for the noise,” says Bob Czepiel of Yankee Mattress in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Start by sliding the mattress onto the floor and giving it a test ride. “Mattresses don’t normally squeak,” says Joanne Cote, store manager at Mattress Firm in Hadley, Massachusetts. “If one did, it might be the steel coil inside, but I’ve never heard of that happening.”
What’s more likely is that the unwanted noise is coming from the box spring and/or the bed frame. “The box spring is the most common source of a bed squeaking,” says Cote. “It’s either the box spring itself, the wood on wood inside, or it could be the wood of the box spring on the metal frame.” To test your box spring, slide it off the frame and, again, gently sit or roll around on it. If you hear noise, there’s a good chance an old spring or chafing wood is causing the issue.
Next up: the frame. Put a little bit of weight on it and shake it gently, first from the sides and then from the headboard and footboard. It shouldn’t take long to identify any creaking or loose joints. Czepiel says you can also “put the bed back together again and lay down on it,” assuming there wasn’t an issue with the other components of the bed.
How to Fix a Squeaking Bed
Congratulations, you’ve identified the problem. Now what?
If it’s the mattress…
You can try to flip or rotate it in order to relocate the pressure points, but more likely than not, it’s still going to squeak. Hopefully, the mattress is still under warranty and you can return it for a replacement.
If it’s the bed frame…
Grab a screwdriver or Allen wrench and tighten everything you can, all of the bolts, nuts, and C-clamps. Add washers where bolts are loose and won’t tighten. Then spray all the connections down with WD-40 or a comparable silicone lubricant. You can also rub a candle or some beeswax on all the joints if you’re wary of chemical smells. Finally, if the wood slats on the bottom of your frame are the culprit, you can wrap each with a worn-out sock or an old T-shirt.
If it’s the boxspring…
You can start by rotating the boxspring, hoping to move the pressure point to the foot and alleviate the noise. You can also jam a book or a small piece of wood in between the squeaky spring and the mattress. If that doesn’t work, you’ve got a decision to make. If it’s under warranty (which it probably is, since most box springs come with a 10-year warranty), you can simply swap it out for a new one. That’s easy. If it’s out of warranty, though, you can either replace it ⏤ they come as cheap as $60 ⏤ or fix it.
If you opt for the latter course of action, pull back the felt cover and lubricate each of the springs with WD-40. If it’s the wood, try the old sock method mentioned above. Either way, you’ll want to reattach the felt with a construction stapler.