A squeaky bed can derail an evening of surreptitious sex — trying to make kid number two while kid number one sleeps next door — or worse, lead to a startling encounter and awkward conversation. If all you’re doing is sleeping in it, learning how to fix a squeaky bed isn’t at the top of your list. But for any extracurricular activities with kids in the house, knowing how to stop a bed from squeaking is key.
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Diagnosing and fixing a squeaking bed isn’t that hard, and in most cases you don’t need much more than an Allen wrench and a can of WD-40. We spoke to several mattress experts and got the low down on how to put a noisy bed to, well, bed. They’re all better than having sex on the floor, cheaper than buying a new bed, and less defeating than just resigning yourself to have any only child.
Figure Out Where The Squeak Is Coming From
Bed squeaks are like Stone Cold Steve Austin: 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. It’s rare to have a squeaky mattress, if yours is the solution is simple. All you need to do is roll around on it — or better yet, let your kids jump around on it — for 30 seconds or so.
“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.” It could also be a broken spring or a manufacturer’s defect. Neither is good news for you, as there’s little you can do short of returning it. You did get the warranty, right?
More likely, the unwanted noise is coming from the box spring and/or 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 bed 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.
If the box spring is quiet, on the other hand, it must be the bed frame. Actually, even if the box spring is loud, you should still check the frame too. Just to be sure there aren’t two problem areas. Put a little bit of weight on it and begin to gently shake, first from the sides, then from the head/footboard. It shouldn’t take long to identify any creaking or loose joints. You can also “put the bed back together again and lay down on it,” says Czepiel, since at this point you’re confident the mattress and box spring are fine, but if it’s the frame, you’ll have to take everything back off to repair it.
How to Fix a Squeaking Bed
Great, so you know what part of the bed is squeaking and creaking. Now what?
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 candle or beeswax on all the joints if you’re more earthy and/or don’t want chemicals in your bed. Finally, if the wood slats on the bottom of your frame are the culprit, one common hack is to wrap each with worn-out socks or old T-shirts.
If it’s the box spring…
You can start by rotating it, hoping to move the pressure point to the foot and alleviate the noise. You can also jam a book or board in between the squeaky spring in the box 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. After pulling back the felt cover, lubricate each of the springs with WD-40. Or, 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.
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.