How to dispose of a mattress
Learn the best mattress disposal options
Moving into a new place often comes with upgrades: new home, new appliances, new furniture. If your move includes a new mattress, you’re faced with a unique challenge: How do you get rid of your old mattress? While you might have seen old mattresses casually tossed in a dumpster or lying on the side of a road, there are better options for disposing mattresses without adding to landfills. Since close to 20 million mattresses end up in landfills each year, and just one mattress can take up to 40 cubic feet in a landfill, it’s important to find a responsible mattress disposal option.
The first thing to consider when disposing your mattress is its condition. If your mattress is relatively new and still in good shape, you might be able to sell or donate it so that it doesn’t go to waste. If you’ve gotten all the use out of your mattress that it has to offer, you’re probably better off recycling it. Up to 90 percent of your mattress can be broken down and recycled, so recycling is definitely a better option for the environment than tossing your mattress in the dumpster.
How to recycle a mattress
- Call a local recycling center: It might take a few phone calls, but you will likely find a recycling facility in your area that accepts whole mattresses. Some cities contract with haulers who will pick up your mattress and recycle it for you during certain times of the year for a service charge (usually at least $30 for pickup, plus the cost of recycling). Connecticut, Rhode Island and California have all enacted laws that allow residents to recycle their mattress for free or a small fee through Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs.
If you are struggling to find a place to recycle your mattress, ask local universities for suggestions, since they frequently partner with recycling services that can handle large items like mattresses. The Bye Bye Mattress database can point you in the right direction.
- DIY mattress recycling: If you have the time and want to take a DIY approach, tear your mattress apart yourself and take the recyclable parts to your local recycling center. Here’s what you can recycle:
- Wood frame
- Steel springs
- Polyurethane foam
- Outer foam
As an added bonus, you might be able to get some cash for parts, like the metal coils, that can be sold as scrap metal. You can also save the foam from your mattress to use as packing materials if you’re planning a move.
- Repurpose it: If you’re a DIYer, you might be happy to discover all the cool things you can make with materials from your old mattress. 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.
How to donate a mattress
Only consider donating your mattress if it is in decent shape. If it’s in really rough shape (e.g. stained, ripped, or just generally unusable), then all you’ll do when you donate your mattress is create more work for the charity or organization you donate it to, who will have to figure out how to dispose of it soon after you leave it with them.
- Donate to 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 location that accepts mattress donations. Many charities refuse to sell donated mattresses, but they will accept mattresses to reuse, or they will recycle them for you. Call non-profit thrift stores and charities in your area to ask about their policies on accepting used mattress donations. Some charities, like GoodWill, do not accept any mattress donations, while others only accept mattresses in select locations. Keep in mind that charities accepting mattress donations are generally short on space. Twin-sized mattresses are more helpful and needed than queen- or king-sized mattresses.
Here’s are some charities to contact:
- DonationTown.org: This organization will help you find a charity near you who will accept your mattress donation. They currently can arrange for donation pick up in 30 cities across the United States.
- Furniture Bank Association: This organization donates furniture items from individuals and businesses to families who are struggling financially. Check their website to find your nearest location.
- Give it away: If selling your mattress doesn’t work, try advertising it for free. 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. Use the same methods for selling your mattress, only instead of listing a price, list it as free. You could also try a website like Freecycle.org, which connects community members with people who are giving things away in their area.
How to sell a mattress
- Sell your mattress locally: Before you consider this option, you should know that selling a mattress may be illegal in your state. Many states only allow you to sell a used mattress after you’ve cleaned it in a rigorous and specific way. Check with your state to find out its regulations. Because the department that handles bedding varies from state to state, you might have to contact your state departments of Health, Consumer Affairs, Agriculture or Licensing.
You 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 for an advertisement, such as a library, community center or locally-owned restaurant is a good place to start. When you’re writing a sales ad, include details about the cleanliness of your mattress along with details about its history: Non-smoking house, no pets and a relatively recent purchase date are all major selling points.
- Sell your mattress online: Websites dedicated to consumer sales (like Cragislist and Facebook Marketplace) are the best place to start when you’re trying to sell your mattress. You can also use your social network to advertise your mattress. Place an ad on all of your social networking sites, and encourage your friends to share your post.
How to haul away a mattress
- 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, if you suspect your old mattress has bed bugs. (The service you use will be able to provide you with exact instructions).
- 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 since you won’t really need to do anything other than pay a small fee for the labor involved in removing and hauling away your old mattress. Here are some things to know:
- Generally, the fee is under $30.
- Some companies will haul your mattress away for free as an added incentive to have you purchase your new one from them.
- Best for local moves.
- Many online retailers don’t offer this service.
The trick here is to arrange for your new mattress to be delivered before you move. This option will work best for a local move, since you’ll end up having to move your new mattress anyway. If you’re moving far away, or just don’t want to deal with the headache of transporting a brand new mattress, this isn’t your best bet.