How To Fix A Squeaky Bed Once And For All

Whether it’s interrupting your nighttime activity or waking up the kids, here’s how to address the issue.

by Dave Baldwin
Originally Published: 

Have you ever been betrayed by a squeaky bed frame? Man, that’s the worst. There you are, finally able to have a moment of intimacy with your partner while the kids are asleep and then the high-pitched eeiii eeiii eiii of the headboard, courtesy of a few loose washers, interrupts your plans. Best case scenario: Annoyance and you continue on, distracted because you’re hyper-focused on your weight distribution. Worst case? You receive a knock at the door from a tiny person in footie pajamas who’s wondering why it sounds like a mouse is loose in your bedroom.

Okay, so maybe this scenario isn’t that realistic. But whether it’s interrupting your night time dalliances or simply driving you nuts, the problem should be addressed. To aid your quest for silence, we put together this guide on how to fix a squeaky bed. In most cases, once you find the source of the squeak, you can solve all your troubles with an Allen wrench, some WD-40, and an old T-shirt. Here’s what to know.

Fixing A Squeaky Bed: Diagnosing the Problem

The source of a bed squeak can be like Joaquín Phoenix’s next role: hard to pin down. So the first step is to identify what part of the bed is squeaking through a 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. Yeah, it’s a pain in the ass to do, but it’s the only way to address the issue and find a solution.

What about the mattress? “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’s good to be safe, though. If your bedspring is not compressing the way it’s supposed to, then that could be the main culprit for a squeaky bed. If you have a foam mattress, the chance that it’s the source of the squeak goes from minimal to zero. However, if the mattress is the culprit, prolonged use might cause health issues, which is why it is important to identify and fix the source of the squeak immediately.

It’s probably the box spring... “The boxspring is the most common source of a bed squeaking,” says Cote. “It’s either the boxspring itself, the wood on wood components inside, or it could be the wood of the box spring rubbing on the metal frame.” To test your boxspring, slide it off the frame and, again, gently sit or roll around on it. If you hear a noise, there’s a good chance an old spring or chafing wood is causing the issue.

Shake it out. Put a little bit of weight on it and shake it gently, first from side to side 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.

Fixing A Squeaky Bed: Flip, Rotate, Tighten

1. If it’s a mattress issue...

If you find that your mattress is the source of the squeak, 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.

2. If it’s a box spring issue...

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 boxsprings 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, pull back the felt cover from the underside and lubricate each of the springs with WD-40. 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. Either way, you’ll want to reattach the felt with a stapler from the hardware store.

3. If it’s the bed frame…

Grab a screwdriver, Allen wrench, and pliers and tighten 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.

And that’s it. Here’s hoping this advice aids your quest to prevent the bed from giving away your actions. Now, you just have to handle the 1,246,195 other things that will send kids into your room in the middle of the night.

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