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Removing a mattress tag has been a source of a great many jokes. Until recently, most mattress tags contained the bold statement that removing the tag was illegal and punishable by law. This may have frightened some children who actually ripped off tags, but the warning was never meant to apply to people who had actually purchased a mattress.
Concern arose in the early 20th century regarding the materials used to make mattresses. Some of the materials could contain a host of nasty chemicals or materials that easily conducted illnesses or harbored pests like body lice. As such, the US government sought to address this by requiring manufacturers of mattresses to place mattress tags on their wares, clearly defining the contents of the mattress. Thus consumers could make an informed choice and steer clear of mattresses stuffed with dangerous materials.
However, listing the materials meant that some mattresses would simply not sell, because of their materials. This led to new US laws, which not only required mattress tags but also were stamped in bold letters with the message “Do not remove under penalty of law."
However, many people were actually not aware the law was intended for mattress dealers, hence the jokes began regarding people serving hard time for removing the tag from their mattress. Finally, enough public concern arose in the last decade to change to the message so it was clear a consumer could remove the tags without suffering FBI raids or possible unknown imprisonment for committing this “serious” crime.
It is important, for a consumer to look at mattress tags since they give one pertinent information. First, if the tags have been removed, it’s difficult to ascertain the filling components of the mattress. Second, an unscrupulous dealer might attempt to resell a used mattress as new. A mattress with no tags is probably pre-owned.
Even though the laws prohibiting mattress dealers from removing mattress tags sound unbelievably grim on the actual tag, few states actually conduct mattress inspections to assure that tags remain in place. However, as a consumer, conducting your own inspection can help you find the best mattress. Once it is delivered, feel free to gleefully remove all tags without fear of criminal prosecution.