Waterbeds Used to Be Cool – What Happened?

September 28, 2021 11:58 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

As waterbeds gained popularity in the 1970s and 1980s, people soon discovered that sleeping on mattresses filled with water may have been trendy… but not entirely practical. Read on to discover some of the reasons waterbeds are not ideal, as well as why waterbeds were discontinued in mainstream.

Early origins

The first waterbed was developed as part of a Master’s thesis project at San Francisco State University. Charles Hall, the inventor of the waterbed, made a prototype mattress filled with starch and Jell-O, eventually refining it into a mattress made of vinyl and filled with water. It was an invention entirely of its time, as it entered the mainstream during the “Summer of Love.”

The start of a craze

For the next 20 years or so, waterbeds saw a surge in popularity. They were said to be more comfortable than traditional mattresses and could regulate body temperature during sleeping. Waterbeds also kept people asleep, as movement from bedmates wouldn’t disturb other sleepers due to the very nature of water.

By 1986, waterbeds made up 20 percent of the bed market, but just as quickly as they burst onto the scene, they faded from popularity and soon became an object of scorn and ridicule. Many people began to see them as a kitschy relic of the past.

Too much upkeep to be worthwhile

In the 1970s and 1980s, consumers who ordered a waterbed found that it arrived empty, much like the airbeds of today. Those who purchased a waterbed had to fill it with a hose. Once filled, the mattress itself weighed up to 1,600 pounds! They were big, bulky and completely unwieldy.

On top of the weight issue, waterbed mattresses could actually grow algae. The water inside the mattress had to be treated with chemicals like bleach, otherwise you’d notice green spores floating around.

The waterbed mattress also needed to be protected throughout its lifespan. Vinyl is not an impervious material, and there are many horror stories out there that detail the horrors of a punctured waterbed mattress. Water flowing through the home is never a good thing, especially when at that volume. In short, waterbeds were high maintenance, and those who owned one always needed to treat it with care.

Declining popularity

All of these reasons why waterbeds are not ideal contributed to their decline in popularity. Maybe waterbeds will come back in style in the future, but it certainly won’t be for practicality’s sake. While some mattress manufacturers still fabricate waterbeds, it’s a very niche market and one that’s marked by nostalgia. New waterbeds behave more like mattresses rather than large water balloons, but they still don’t match the comfort level and convenience of other mattresses on the market today.

Why were waterbeds discontinued? They simply weren’t practical, and advances in mattress technology reduced the need for them at all. Shoppers can now find a bed that’s even more comfortable, without all the weight and unpredictability of a water-filled mattress.

Stop by Beds for Less today to find the perfect mattress for you and look forward to years of quality sleep. We don’t carry waterbeds, but we promise to send you home with something even more comfortable and appealing when it comes time to drift off to dreamland!

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