How to dispose of a mattress
Sell, donate or recycle it if possible
If your mattress is relatively new and in good shape, you can sell or donate it so it doesn’t go to waste. But if it’s gotten all the use it can, you’re probably better off recycling it.
According to the National Bed Federation, the percentage of mattresses sent for recycling in the U.K. “has more than doubled from just 10% to around 24%” in the last eight years. This is good news because there’s a lot of mattress waste in the world; the Mattress Recycling Council estimates that the U.S. discards at least 20 million mattresses and box springs annually.
- Many cities can recycle intact mattresses. If your city can’t, you can disassemble a mattress yourself and DIY recycle its parts.
- Most parts of a mattress are likely recyclable, and it’s better to recycle than to send more waste to a landfill.
- If your mattress is in good shape, you can donate it, give it to a friend or sell it locally or online.
How to recycle a mattress
In many cases, you can find a way to recycle your whole mattress through your city’s public services or via local recycling centers. But if intact mattress recycling isn’t available in your area, you can always take the DIY approach.
Call a local recycling center
According to Guillaume Drew, founder of sustainable bedding retailer Or & Zon, during the recycling process, “a machine will cut and peel away the top layer of the mattress, separating the materials. The metal springs can be extracted and sent for scrap recycling, while the foam can be cleaned and used in carpet manufacture or sent to a plant that uses waste to create energy.”
It might take a few phone calls, but you’re likely to find a recycling facility in your area that accepts whole mattresses. Some cities contract with haulers who can pick up your mattress and recycle it for you during certain times of the year for a service charge (usually around $30 for pickup, plus the cost of recycling). Some states let you recycle your mattress for free or for a small fee through Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs.
If you’re struggling to find a place to recycle your mattress, ask local universities for suggestions; they frequently partner with recycling organizations that can handle large items like mattresses. The searchable Bye Bye Mattress database can also point you in the right direction.
Recycle your mattress yourself
If you have the time to take a DIY approach, tear your mattress apart yourself and bring the recyclable components to your local recycling center. Here are some of the materials from a mattress that you can usually recycle:
- Wood frame
- Steel springs
- Polyurethane foam
You can tear apart your mattress yourself and recycle parts like the spring coils and wooden frame, but it takes some work and know-how.
DIY recycling requires a bit of work, like removing coils or pulling out the wooden frame. But it’s better for the environment than just tossing your mattress in the dumpster, and it’s cheaper than paying someone to haul your mattress away.
Repurpose your mattress
If you’re a DIYer, you might be able to make some cool new things with materials from your old mattress. For example, you can use the springs to make fun outdoor art projects, wine racks or ornaments; the padding for a dog bed; the fabric for cushion covers; and the thread for sewing projects. Foam from your mattress can be used as packing material if you’re planning a move.
You might also be able to get some cash for parts, like the metal coils, which can potentially be sold as scrap metal.
How to donate a mattress
Only consider donating your mattress if it’s in decent shape. If it’s in really rough shape — stained, ripped or just generally unusable — you’ll just create more work for the charity or person taking it off your hands.
- Donating to a charity: If your mattress is still in decent shape, it could benefit someone in need. Keep in mind that due to the prevalence of bed bugs, you might not be able to find a local charity that accepts mattress donations. Nonetheless, it’s worthwhile to call nonprofit thrift stores and charities in your area to ask about their used mattress policies. Some charities, like Goodwill, don’t accept any mattress donations, while others only accept mattresses in select locations.
- Giving it away: If donating to a charity doesn’t work, try giving your mattress away to someone in your community. This won’t get you any extra cash, but it could save you the hassle of tearing it apart yourself or paying someone to haul it away. Check out organizations like The Freecycle Network, which connects community members with people giving things away in their area.
How to sell a mattress
If you have a used mattress in decent condition and you want to get some money for it, you can try to sell it.
Before you consider this option, find out if selling a mattress is legal in your state. Many states only allow you to sell a used mattress after you’ve cleaned it rigorously and according to specific instructions, so check with your state’s department of health to learn more about its used mattress regulations.
You probably aren’t going to make enough money to justify shipping your used mattress across the country, so think local when you advertise. Anywhere that allows you to post for-sale listings, such as a library, community center or locally owned restaurant, is a good place to start. When you’re writing a sales ad, include notes about the mattress’s history. Does it come from a nonsmoking house with no pets? Did you purchase it fairly recently?
Websites that facilitate local commerce (like Facebook Marketplace) can be helpful when you’re trying to sell your mattress. You can also use your own social network to advertise by creating a post and encouraging your friends to share it.
How to haul away a mattress
Whether you’re moving and getting rid of things or it’s just time to upgrade, transporting your mattress for disposal can be a bit of a pain. But there are some hassle-free options.
Use a waste disposal service
Mattress hauling is part of waste disposal. You can call a dumpster rental or waste disposal service that will pick up and haul your mattress for you. Prices vary, and you’ll have to do some extra work, like wrapping it tightly in plastic, especially if your old mattress might have bed bugs. (Your service provider will give exact instructions.)
Just make sure you agree on a price with the provider in advance of the pickup. One ConsumerAffairs reviewer from Florida didn’t receive a quote before the junk removal driver showed up at their house to haul two twin box springs, one queen box spring and one mattress. “The driver quoted me $575. … He said it was because it would be $150 for each box spring and a separate price altogether for the mattress. … At this point, I had it and asked the driver to leave my home and expressed how ridiculously expensive it was,” said the reviewer.
Have your new mattress company haul your old one away
Many mattress companies will haul your old mattress away to recycle it when they deliver your new one. This is by far the easiest option; you won’t really need to do anything but pay a small fee (generally $50 or less) for the labor involved in removing and hauling away your old mattress. Some companies might haul your mattress away at no cost to incentivize your purchase.
Ask if this is an option before you buy your mattress. Most delivery services that offer mattress hauling do so by appointment, and many online retailers don’t offer this service. If you’re considering buying a new mattress from a retailer that won’t haul your old mattress away, you might want to shop around until you find one that will.
The trick here is to arrange for your new mattress to be delivered before you move. This works best for a local move; if you’re moving far away, or you just don’t want to deal with the headache of transporting a brand-new mattress, this isn’t your best bet.
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