Changing the Water in a Waterbed, Should I?

Will a waterbed start to stink?

Changing the Water in a Waterbed, Should I do it? What kind of maintenence is necessary when it comes to caring for the water in a waterbed or can I just leave it alone?  Contrary to belief you do not have to change the water in a waterbed as part of a regular maintenance schedule that includes adding Waterbed Contioner.

Changing the Water in a Waterbed, Should I?

Treat Your Waterbed With Conditioner To Prevent Issues. Click Photo

In over 23 years I have never heard of one associated health problem while sleeping on an untreated water bed.  In fact as long as you maintain your bed properly, you may never have to change the water. The only reason for draining a waterbed or changing the water is for the one real obvious reason, how will you move it if you don’t?  Honestly, short of 2 men and a tow truck you won’t, so draining to move one is necessary.

Is draining a water bed necessary for proper care?

Actually when owning a waterbed there really isn’t much that goes into caring for one. The regular maintenance required includes occasionally burping the air out of the waterbed mattress and adding waterbed conditioner / treatment through annual or semi annual dosing cycles. This should eliminate algae and bacteria that lead to stagnant water and a waterbed mattress that smells. The smell can ruin any waterbed mattress by permeating the vinyl.

What is the worse thing that can happen if I haven’t cared for my waterbed?

Worst case scenario is your mattress will get a horrible smell that may not be abe to be removed. What you can do if a smell is already occuring is that you will need to take the water out of your bed using a drain and fill kit  or electric pump. Purchase a bottle of waterbed shock treatment and follow the directions. Quite honestly this may or may not work. Our suggestion is the old saying the best cure is good prevention. This should come in the form of regular waterbed care so follow waterbed care instructions for your bed and changing the water in yours should not be necessary.

Photo by Das_miller


Doug Belleville and his father Dave own and run STLBeds - a specialty sleep store located in Arnold, MO. The staff at STLBeds is highly educated about sleep, comfort and their special sleep products. STLBeds only carries high quality mattresses and bed-related products. You won't find the brand names here - just call and ask us why!

12 Comments Leave your comment »

my waterbed leaked and im tryin to get the water out of it it and wont come out im doin everything but just wont come out

Comment by TRICIA — March 27, 2009 @ 6:42 am

I was not sure if you have a baffled mattress or a free flow? I will assume baffled. Many people have a problem getting the remaining water out of a fiber baffling or foam baffled insert. Here is a link that should help you. If you still have questions please call us at 636-296-8540 We can walk you through the process. How to gravity siphon a waterbed 3 ways

Comment by Doug — March 27, 2009 @ 7:01 am

We have a question??

How full should our waterbed be? Is it possible that the bladder
can stretch? We are afraid too put too much water in it. It seems
to have stretched somewhat and it is now nine years old.
thank you.

Comment by Derek and Joan — December 26, 2009 @ 10:06 am

You really should not fill a waterbed above the safety liner for the obvious reason that the liner will not be able to contain all of the water if you had a serious leak. Yes they can stretch. Nine years is a very long life for free flow mattress, Semi and waveless mattresses. Super waveless and ultra waveless you are possibly on borrowed time. 12 year is the maximum life any H20 bed should be used. Here is some more helpful info. How to Properly Install a Waterbed Mattress and also check out this blog Add Water to Make a Water Bed Firmer?
both get into very good detail about do’s and don’ts of filling a waterbed.
How to Properly Install a Waterbed Mattress

Comment by Doug Belleville — December 26, 2009 @ 8:21 pm

I own a waterbed, and just about 2 years ago I moved it downstairs to my new room. Now, for the past year I have been waking up with trapped burps but often only when I sleep on my waterbed. This time I was careful not to put too much water in it but I think now thats the problem. Is this a result of not having enough water or should I see my doctor before I have stomach cancer? :P

Comment by PTLard — March 10, 2011 @ 12:09 pm

I’m curious as to why you say that “12 years is the maximum life any H2O bed should be used”. Ours is 28 years old and seems to be as good as new. We’ve never had any problems with it.

Comment by Cindy — August 12, 2012 @ 2:26 pm

Cindy what a great question we recommend replacing a waterbed mattress within 12 years need it or not. This is because these water filled balloons can hold up to 220 gallons of water which is one of nature’s most destructive forces. Vinyl deteriorates rapidly due to something called plasticizer migration or deterioration and it is the only thing holding the water back. Need proof? Look at old vinyl cars seats or dash boards or anything else made of vinyl with a little age on it. Their seams are manmade and usually only warranted (Fully) for no more than 5 years by the manufacturers that build them. Waterbed mattresses are very cheap usually no more than $100 to $500 dollars and when you consider the thousands of dollars in damage and inconvenience a major failure can cause we simply believe it isn’t worth the risk. While a few mattresses may live extra ordinarily long lives it is not the norm. Most fall far short of your 28 year mark. Write it off to loving care and lots of luck, remember some of us will live to be in excess of 100 years old but at some point all this has to come to an end. Don’t risk it inside your home.

Comment by Douglas Belleville — August 13, 2012 @ 9:22 pm

i’m moving to florida next month. i can fill my waterbed mattress w/ treated water from inside the house, or from the spigot outside the bedroom which is connected to a well. obviously, i would rather use the well water because it costs me nothing. are there any special treatments, precautions, etc., that i need to know before doing this? or should i use the more costly treated water because it is not worth the damage the well water will do to the vinly?

Comment by cyndi — May 13, 2013 @ 7:37 am

In St. Louis the typical residential customer in St. Louis County using 22,500 gallons will pay about $85.92 a quarter. This translates to $28.64 per month for water service. That’s less than a penny per gallon. King size hardside waterbeds contain about 220 gallons. I like the idea of No wear and tear on your personal well and the water is already treated.

NOTE: It is still necessary to add waterbed conditioner: Truthfully more damage happens to the vinyl mattress because people don’t use mattress pads on the beds and keep the mattresses clean top and down in the sides clean.

Comment by Douglas Belleville — May 13, 2013 @ 8:46 am

I bought my son a water bed exactly 13 years ago today. He used it for six years, left home, then used it two years. It has sat unused since then. I was considering draining it. It hasn’t been treated in years. It doesn’t smell but I haven’t opened it up either. Should I treat it before draining it?

Comment by donna — July 27, 2013 @ 3:29 pm

Donna, I would say yes, especially if your plan is to store the mattress for a while and possibly reuse it at a later time. This will coat the mattress with the protectant hopefully helping to prevent issues.

Comment by Douglas Belleville — July 29, 2013 @ 8:06 am

I moved from home and haven’t treated the waterbed with the tablets. It’s been about 10 years. Should I get rid of it? I’m scared to open the tubes and attempt to start the treatments, is it too late?

Comment by Angie — May 13, 2014 @ 12:17 pm

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