Japanese Bed Care & Maintenance
Caring for a Japanese bed is quite simple. Follow the tips below to care for and maintain each element of the Japanese bed.
If you have an all-cotton shiki futon, over time dust mites and allergens can accumulate inside the fillings. So it is imperative to do the following to make sure your shiki futon stays fresh.
First, be sure to use fitted sheets on your shiki futon. Using fitted sheets is saving you money in the long run because it keeps your shiki futon in top condition by blocking oils from your skin, dust, and allergens from permeating into the cotton. For extra protection, you can use a hypoallergenic protective mattress cover. These can be easily found on Amazon. Standard sizes should fit as long as it's not marked for "Thick Beds"
For cleaning, at least twice a year, take the shiki futon outdoors when it is sunny and warm. Thoroughly beat the shiki futon with a stick and then let it air out in the sun for at least three hours. If where you live does not see many sunny days or if it is winter time, the alternative is to vacuum the shiki futon. Studies show that vacuuming is just as effective as beating. The best time to air your shiki futon is between noon and 5pm, when the air is not moist.
It's worth being aware that in recent years, some companies in Japan and the US have begun carrying foam shiki futons. You can still air the foam shiki futon out in the sun a couple times a year, and either vacuum or beat occasionally to remove dust, but since foam is not susceptible to mold or flattening, it is not stricly necessary.
If you live in a town where many Japanese reside, there may be cleaning services that wash your shiki futon. Studies show that washing is the most effective method of cleaning out allergens. Do not try this on your own, though, because you may ruin your shiki futon.
First, vacuum the tatami mat to clear the floor of any particles. Then take a damp rag and wipe the tatami mat thoroughly. You may use water or a special spray for tatami (check with your merchant), but stay away from any other household cleaning products as it may damage the tatami mat.
The Japanese do not put away their Japanese beds just for the sake of saving space during the day. This practice prevents mold from growing on the tatami mat when an item is placed on it for long periods of time. So if putting away the Japanese bed is a hassle for you, consider purchasing a platform bed rather than a tatami mat which will create a semi-permanent structure in your bedroom.
Are you ready to experience the Japanese way of sleeping? You don't have to travel to Japan or pay excessive fees for an imported bed. Based on reader feedback and our own independent testing, we put together a list of the best shops in the United States where you can buy an authentic shikibuton.
View our recommended stores for a Japanese bed »