How to Transport a Mattress in a Car: Step-by-Step Guide

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Not everyone has access to a pickup truck or van and sometimes it doesn’t make sense to hire packers and movers just to transport a mattress, especially if you’re moving for a short distance.

The good news is it’s very much possible to transport your humble abode, your mattress safely in the car, but you need to do it the RIGHT way. You don’t want your mattress flying away in the middle of the freeway, risking damage to your car or worse, injuring yourself or someone else.

How to Safely Transport a Mattress on Top of any Car

unsafe way to transport mattress
Unsafe way to transport mattress

The most straightforward way to transport the mattress car is by securing and strapping it to the top of the car roof. You can also transport certain sizes or types of mattresses inside the vehicle (more on that below), but transporting the mattress on the top of the car is usually less cumbersome.

You can transport up to a queen-sized mattress on an average-sized car or SUV. We don’t suggest transporting a king or above size mattress because there might be too much overhang on either side of the vehicle, making it difficult to see while driving, and the wind pressure could cause the straps to get undone.

We also suggest putting a mattress bag or any large plastic sheet to protect the mattress from the elements and keep it clean. Make sure the bag is secured as well. The wind can easily catch an unsecured bag and cause it to fly away or tear, which might damage the mattress.

What you would need:

  • 2 to 4 ratchet straps – 12 to 15 ft. [Ropes aren’t safe].
  • Mattress bag or large plastic sheet.
  • An appropriately sized car.

Step 1:  Start by prepping the mattress. Put the mattress in a mattress bag or wrap it in a plastic sheet.

Step 2: Next, lay a plastic sheet or bed sheet on the car’s roof. The reason you want to put a protective layer is to avoid scratching or damaging the roof of your car. If you’re using a mattress bag, you can skip the step.

Step 3: Place the mattress on the roof facing the quilted side or sleeping side down. The top layer or the sleeping surface is more prone to damage (as it’s softer), so you want that side facing down. It’s a good idea to seek help at this stage as the mattress might be too big or bulky for one person to handle.

Step 4: This step is the most crucial; pay close attention. Open the driver side door, and throw the strap side of the ratchet strap (not the hook side) over the mattress, pull it from the front passenger seat to the driver’s side and close the driver’s door. Do not pull the strap through the window, as you would not be able to open the car door. 

If you have passengers in the car, you’d want to do the same thing – pull the strap through the door, not through the window.

Follow the same process on the rear side. For maximum grip, make sure the straps are toward the rear edge of the window. We recommend a minimum of two, but consider using four straps (two on each side) for extra safety.

Note: For SUVs, you pass the ratchet straps through the racks on the roof.

Step 5: The ratchet should be placed on the side of the mattress on the roof. Pull the excess strap and ratchet it tight till there is no slack. Don’t overtighten as you don’t want to damage the mattress. The goal is to make sure the mattress is secure and won’t move around while you’re driving.

Now you’ve safely secured the mattress to your car, and it’s time to hit the road. If you stop for gas or anything else, check the straps to see if they got loose.

How to transport a mattress inside the car?

This is a common question we get, and the answer is – that it depends on the car and mattress size. But I feel it’s easier and safer to transport the mattress on the roof as putting the mattress inside the car may damage the interiors (especially the ceiling) and it could be challenging to drive.

If you still want to put the mattress inside the car, here are some tips.

1) Fold the mattress in half (not recommended for mattresses with coils) and strap it with a ratchet strap.

2) Depending on how big or small your car is, try to see if it fits in the car’s trunk or back seat. Single, King Single, or Double size mattresses usually fit in the trunk or the rear seat. Larger sized mattresses like a queen or king can fit inside an SUV. You would want to fold down the middle seats, pull and push the front passenger completely front and place the mattress diagonally across the car lengthwise.

3) You’re all done. Just drive carefully.

Alternative: Use a mattress vacuum bag.

Mattress-in-a-box mattresses, a few hybrid mattresses, and most foam beds can be vacuum compressed into a smaller form factor. All you need is a mattress vacuum storage bag and a decently powerful vacuum cleaner.

Use a vacuum cleaner to suck out as much air as possible from the mattress. You can also walk over the mattress to speed up the process and remove excess air. Seal the storage bag once you have removed as much air as possible.

Your mattress would be now almost 1/3rd the size and easily foldable. You can now place it in the trunk of your car or back seat without any hassle.

How not to transport your mattress: Mistakes to Avoid

1) Using ropes to tie the mattress to the roof: Ropes are not as reliable or secure as straps and can easily come loose or break off.

2) Bending or rolling the mattress, especially innerspring mattresses:  Bending or rolling is not only physically challenging but also risks damage to the mattress, especially coil mattresses, as it can permanently break or weaken the coils. Foam mattresses are more resilient in this case, but we still don’t recommend bending them as they may impair the driver’s vision while driving.

3) Not covering the mattress with a plastic wrap: You want to avoid exposing the mattress to the elements as much as possible. The mattress could get drenched in rain or dirty from the mud and debris on the road.

4) Driving too fast: Driving fast is never a good idea, but when you have a mattress on your roof, you have to be extra careful no matter how sturdy you’ve secured it.

5) Overhang on either side: If there’s too much overhang, the wind pressure could cause the mattress to fly off. You may ask why? Well, it has to do with aerodynamics and pressure, and the same concept is why planes actually fly.

Wrapping Up

Transporting your mattress in the car is not as difficult as it may seem. Just follow the tips above and you’ll be good to go. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to leave a comment below. Safe travels!

Emma Bethany

Emma Bethany

Emma is a wellness writer who has shared her knowledge for over three years. Her Masters in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes means Emma approaches each topic with compassion and gentle curiosity. She wants everyone to be as passionate about taking care of their body as she is. That’s why Emma believes investing in your sleep is an investment in yourself. She wants to create a loving space to learn self-care and build a beautiful bedtime routine to soothe the soul. She loves to discover new ways to enhance sleep and embraces a holistic lifestyle. She enjoys settling down in the evening with a good book and a cup of chamomile tea.

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