When deciding what kind of mattress to buy for a dormitory or transitional housing type of facility one of the first decisions that must be made is – vinyl or nylon? Both vinyl mattress and nylon mattress fabrics have positives and negatives. The information here in this article will hopefully make the decision process a little easier. Both vinyl covered and nylon covered mattresses are very well suited to be used in situations where multiple people might sleep on the mattress over the course of its life. Both vinyl and nylon fluid proof fabrics are usually very heavy duty and will hold up to the rigors of non-traditional use and, almost daily cleanings.
Nylon fabrics are not 100% waterproof without a little help. Nylon is a woven fabric and therefore has little interstices that water can soak through. Most nylon fabrics are treated on the top and have a laminated backing that makes it impermeable to fluids. The top side treatment to nylon helps any fluids bead up and roll off the fabric. One major drawback to nylon is that that it’s a woven fabric and if a fluid is not allow to roll off (for example: if someone is sleeping on its surface) the fluid will eventually soak in. This is why all nylon mattress fabrics have some kind of fluid proof backing. It prevents soaked in liquids from getting through to the padding. Once the fluid soaks into the nylon “clean up” becomes more difficult. It usually involves soaking and scrubbing, and in some cases a mild detergent might not be enough.
Though nylon fabric mattresses may require more effort to keep clean and might not ever be 100% bacteria free they do have a few benefits. Nylon fabrics usually have a softer and slightly stretchy feel because of their woven construction. This translates in to a slightly softer sleeping surface. Also, nylon tends to take a little longer to reach maximum body heat reflection. The woven nature of the fabric helps insulate a sleeper from their own body heat being reflected back instantly. A sleeper may not experience total heat reflection from the impermeable barrier beneath the nylon for 1-2 minutes.
Vinyl fabric mattresses are not a woven fabric so the very top layer is 100% fluid proof. No amount of fluid can soak into any of the fabric. This is a great benefit for any situation where the mattress needs to be cleaned between users or after spillages. A fluid could sit on top of this fabric for hours and never soak in. This makes cleanup very simple. Just dry and wipe down with mild soap and rinse well. The mattress will dry immediately and be ready for use. Vinyl fabrics can even be disinfected with a bleach solution to create an antibacterial sleeping surface.
Vinyl mattress fabrics do tend to be a little stiffer and reflect body heat faster than nylon fabrics. These are marginal characteristics that most sleepers can’t notice in real life situations.
In conclusion, woven vs. non-woven, is the main difference between vinyl mattress and nylon mattress fabrics. Vinyl fabrics are easier to clean and dry instantly because of it’s a non-woven structure. Nylon has a little extra stretch and is a touch softer because it is a woven structure. As with most things in life there are tradeoffs, good and bad.
Which mattress fabric to use? This is a question that has to do with the mattresses application.
Will the mattress have frequent different users?
If fluid gets on the mattress how quickly will it be dealt with?
Who is sleeping on the mattress?
Does the mattress need to be disinfected?
Why use vinyl mattresses?
• Easiest to clean
• 100% fluid proof
• Easily disinfected
• Instantly dry – no fluid absorption
Why use nylon mattresses?
• Easy to clean
• 100% fluid proof
• Dries quickly – some fluid absorption