Monday, April 5, 2010

Easy DIY Straw Mattress


We needed a lightweight, futon-like mattress for our gypsy wagon, which will have a bed platform that folds into a couch. We saw this need as an opportunity to experiment with a homemade mattress that wouldn't be pumped full of chemicals like conventional mattresses. We had seen a custom-made straw mattress on another blog, and at first I was planning to sew the tick myself. Then I realized that a commercial, 100% cotton futon cover would be just as cheap as the fabric. So a $30 futon cover plus a $5 bale of straw = a cheap, natural mattress.

Straw mattresses have a bad rap of course (bugs! rodents! itchy!) and since we've never used one before, we'll be testing ours out before we hit the road. The basic concept for care of a straw mattress goes like this. The straw needs to be replaced every few months because it compresses down and if left for too long can develop a problem with bugs nesting in it. Rodents and bugs don't get any nutrition from straw (this isn't hay--the nutritional content is pretty much zilch in straw) so they aren't attracted to it. When it's time to switch out the straw, you compost the old, the new costs $5, and you get an opportunity to wash the cover. And really, if you get sick of straw and want to invest in wool fleece or some other filler, you can do so at any time! This seems to us to be an environmentally friendly and flexible "sleep system". We'll let you know how it feels after a couple of nights.

Sweet Dreams!


8 comments:

Brian L said...

Very nifty... I hope you enjoy your mattress. We are looking forward to fluffing ours up with some new straw soon.

(I'm amazed how uniform the mattress looks in that lower photo, too...)

EJ said...

When I was younger i had a a sleeping mat made of corn shucks, leaves only, of course. I read on your blog about the straw & was immediately reminded of that, I had forgotten all about that. Really enjoying the blog & catching up.
EJ

EJ said...

When I was a kid I had a mattress stuffed with dried corn shucks, just the leaves of course, no stalks. Seeing this reminded me of it, I had completely forgotten about that. It was comfy enough, but that was almost 40 years ago, so maybe my hindsight is myopic.

arihant matt said...
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UsedBooksForSale said...

So how is the mattress now or how long did you keep using that system of straw?

Libby: said...

I would say we used the mattress for about a year before swapping out the straw. Old straw went into the compost pile or to be used as mulch, and a new batch went in. After awhile it gets less fluffy; you can re-fluff it, but after awhile it just seems best to start from scratch.

Carolina_CowGirl said...

Love this idea! I can't use commercial mattresses, as I'm extremely chemically sensitive, so I may try straw or even Spanish moss, since I live in FL. Thanks for sharing! Going to check out more of your blog.

Libby: said...

Carolina_CowGirl; I hope this is a good solution for you! I'm chemically sensitive myself (not as severely as it sounds like you are) so I totally get it. In Florida you're going to want to make sure everything is bone dry so that you don't end up with a mold problem. I'll be curious to hear if the humidity ends up being a problem for you, it wasn't an issue for us in the arid Southwest. Thanks and enjoy the blog!