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With futons, the futon bed mattress is the key to comfort. The frame is not going to provide any appreciable comfort as a box spring might. It's all in the futon mattress. Luckily, futon mattresses have grown very sophisticated in their contruction, offering lots of features that make them both comfortable and long-lasting.
The two biggest enemies to your futon bed mattress are dust and moisture. Vacuum your futon mattress regularly to remove dust. Let the futon sit with the covers pulled back for about half an hour each day to let moisture out. If you need to clean a spot or stain from the futon mattress, try using a rug cleaner, or spot clean with warm water and a scrub brush with laundry detergent. If you can, try to dry the futon mattress outdoors afterwards.
If you sleep with a partner, get the biggest futon mattress you can. Don't settle for anything smaller than a queen size. If you have pets who like to share the bed with you at night, that will mean more space as well. Consider that the futon is where you will be spending almost a third or your life. When you go to that futon mattress sale, take your sleeping partner along so you can both be sure that you make the right choice.
Like many conventional mattresses, futon mattresses can now be found with foam cores wrapped in a softer material. This affects not only the softness of the futon bed mattress, but the longevity of the futon. Foam core with cotton is often found in a discount furon mattress, is somewhat softer, and will typically last for about five years. Foam cores wrapped in wool are firmer, and will usually last about ten years.
Although it seems counterintuitive, you can buy futon mattresses with inner spring coils. Obviously this is a far cry from the Japanese tatami mat which helped inspire the western futon, but the inner springs in some of today's modern futon bed mattresses make them superbly comfortable both as a couch and as a bed.
Your futon bed mattress will last longer if you care for it properly. Flip your futon mattress once a month if you are using it as a sofa. Rotate it each time you change the sheets if the futon is being used as a bed. Buy a mattress pad or a vinyl sheet to protect it from stains if the futon is being used as a bed. The sheet or pad goes between the fitted sheet and futon mattress. Another good tip is to hang your futon outside in the sun to keep it fresh. Do this once every six months, if possible.