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A Comprehensive Guide on How to Dispose of a Mattress

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Figuring out how to dispose of a mattress properly and in an environmentally friendly way can be tricky.

This is because the bulk and size of mattresses make them difficult to compress and stack. Their boxy shape takes up as much as 800 million cubic feet of landfill space, and the resulting overcrowding will eventually lead to the development of new landfills.

So, how do you get rid of a mattress? Do you simply dump it in the trash? Do you call a junk removal service?

Let’s dig into the various ways on how you can properly discard your mattress.

Can I Dump My Old Mattress In The Trash?

Yes, you can dump your old mattress in the trash but take note that there are serious environmental consequences to doing so.

Roughly 20 million old mattresses and box springs end up as trash every single year in the U.S. The problem with this is that trash in landfills releases methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes heavily to climate change.

What's worse is if the mattresses end up in open landfills instead of closed ones, they will contribute to 91% of all landfill methane emissions. [1]

can i dump my old mattress in the trash or landfill

If, however, you insist on dumping your mattress in the garbage, I recommend that you still do it responsibly by following these steps:

  1. Check to see if your town offers bulk trash pick-up.
  2. Wrap your mattress in a plastic bag, preferably a recycled one.
  3. Bring your mattress to the curb.

Getting rid of mattresses in a responsible way isn’t easy. A growing number of landfills don’t want them, since they are bulky, hard to crush and can jam machinery.


Ryan Trainer, President of International Sleep Products Association

How To Dispose Of A Mattress

Hire A Junk Removal Service

You might need to hire a junk removal service if local municipalities won’t take your mattress.

1-800-GOT-JUNK say that they try to recycle or donate whenever they can, so you can consider trying them out since it seems like they understand proper mattress disposal. You can book a no-obligation appointment with them here.

However, try not to use this option unless it’s really necessary because most junk removal services will often just haul your mattress right off to the landfill themselves.

Take It Back To The Retailer

Many retailers offer a mattress hauling service, either free of charge or as an additional cost if you’re purchasing a new one from them.

If you’re in California, retailers are actually required by law through the Used Mattress Recovery and Recycling Act to take back your old mattress for free when they deliver your new mattress to you (with exceptions).

Resell It

If your mattress is in great condition or you have a specialty style, like, say, memory foam, you might be able to resell it.

First, though, do a thorough inspection to ensure that your mattress is in good condition. Check for:

  • Stains or water spots
  • Rips or tears
  • Structural issues (sagging, dips, etc.)
  • Bed bugs or other little critters

Sites like eBay, Craigslist, or Facebook Marketplace are ideal for finding local buyers for your mattress.

Ultimately, when it comes down to reselling, ask yourself if you’d buy it. If you yourself wouldn’t want to purchase it then it’s probably not fit for sale.

Donate It

Donating your mattress or box spring is a double win: you’re giving back to those in need while keeping your mattress out of a landfill.

Roughly 20 million old mattresses and box springs end up as trash every single year in the U.S.

Again, double-check that there are no rips, stains, or signs of bugs before you start reaching out to local organizations or thrift stores.

After that, call around to see who will accept mattress donations. Your local Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill, and Salvation Army chapters might be good places to start.

Charity shops, homeless centers, and animal shelters might also take them. You can also try out Freecyle, a site that connects people within your community to free goods. [2]

Recycle It

If you can’t donate or resell your mattress, then recycling is the next best option (environmentally).

This is because almost 85% to 90% of the materials in your mattress can be reused or recycled. [3]

A well-oiled recycling factory can reuse 90% of the mattress. The cotton and cloth get turned into clothes. The springs and the foam get recycled, and the wood gets turned into chips.


Josh Peterson, Writer for Planet Green

Depending on where you live, you might even be able to save or even earn money by recycling. In California, for example, centers will actually pay you to recycle your mattress.

Compare that to local landfills who will often charge you for bringing your mattress to them.

How Do I Know When It’s Time To Get Rid Of My Mattress?

woman trying to sleep on an uncomfortable bed

You will know when it’s time to get rid of your mattress if you start having a hard time sleeping through the night.

If you are tossing and turning in an effort to get comfortable, it may be because your mattress is already wearing down.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, you'll know that it's time to replace your mattress when you notice the following signs below. [4]

  • The divets in the bed no longer bounce back when you get up.
  • The mattress sags or there are lumps on it.
  • There are coils poking through the fabric.
  • The springs are noisy.

Also, if you’re experiencing allergy symptoms or allergic reactions at night, then your mattress might be to blame.

This is because they make the perfect home for dust mites, a common household allergen. For children, a reaction to a house dust mite may be severe enough to cause asthma.

A simple solution like a mattress casing might help, or you may have to trade in your mattress for a hypoallergenic version.

I asked around and it seems that one of the most highly recommended options for a hypoallergenic mattress is the PlushBeds Natural Bliss Latex Vegan Mattress. A lot of people swear by it since they said it has literally helped them sleep better night after night. 

I was honestly skeptical at first, but when I saw that it's made from 100% latex, I understood why.

Latex is known to be very resistant against mold, dust mites, microbes, and bacteria. And every expert will tell you that if you suffer from allergies, then a latex mattress like this is the kind of mattress you should be sleeping on.

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Aside from being a healthy mattress, it's also comfortable and provides you with great back support. The PlushBeds Natural Bliss Latex Vegan Mattress also contains only organic materials and zero petrochemicals, which makes it an eco-friendly mattress overall.

Petrochemicals destroy ecosystems and release harmful greenhouse gases, so any product that doesn't have them automatically gets a yes from me.

I also appreciate that PlushBeds makes it easy for anyone to try out their mattress because of their 100-night sleep trial and 25-year warranty. That means I have time to see if it works for me before fully committing to it.

The Eco Terra Hybrid Latex Mattress is another hypoallergenic mattress that receives great reviews from people who've tried it. Similar to PlushBeds, it's made from 100% natural latex, making it ideal for those who suffer from allergic reactions.

Great for back and side sleepers, it also provides pressure relief that follows the contours of your body. Because of this, you'll feel fresh and energized in the morning, unlike with other mattresses that will only leave you exhausted and uncomfortable when you wake up.

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If you prefer the feel of a memory foam bed, this one's for you.

What I like about the Eco Terra Hybrid Latex Mattress the most is how green and responsible it is. Eco Terra partners directly with sustainable farms for the rubber sap that they use for this latex mattress. So not only is it organic, non-toxic, and eco-friendly — it also helps create jobs.

They offer a 90-night sleep trial and 15-year warranty for it, which is less than PlushBeds but is still better than nothing. They do provide free shipping and returns though as a bonus.

The Latex for Less Latex Mattress is another, more affordable option. I like it because it has two firmness levels you can choose from just by flipping the mattress over from one side to another.

The side that's medium-firm is convenient if you're a side sleeper because it gives you comfort by closely adjusting to your body. Users have said that this has made their sleeping experience better because of how much it lessened their back aches.

If you're a back sleeper, the firm side will be better for you because of how it offers comfort to your spine. Users have reported waking up in the mornings and noticing that their backs don't hurt anymore because of this.

A bedroom with a Latex for Less Latex Mattress

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Additionally, the Latex for Less Latex Mattress does not contain any harsh chemicals, making it friendlier not only for the environment but also for you. This is because you won't have to take in any bad odor that can make you and your family sick.

They offer a 120-night sleep trial (the longest of the three mattresses we've looked at) and a 20-year warranty, which is shorter than PlushBeds but longer than Eco Terra.

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Mattress

Before thinking about the disposal of mattresses, why don’t you try to hold on to yours for much longer first?

Keep your mattress in good condition with these tips:

Dos

  • Make sure you flip your mattress regularly. When it’s new, this means flipping it every 3-4 weeks. After a few months, drop back to rotating it once every 2 months.
  • Mattresses will often sag wherever they are missing support, so get a sturdy bed frame with center and side supports.

Don'ts

  • Don’t let kids or pets jump around on the bed! I know that playtime is a fun and necessary part of most of our days, but it’s rough on your mattress. Keep the really active stuff for somewhere else.
  • Keep drinks and food out of the bed as much as possible. In addition to keeping your mattress more sanitary, it will also make it easier to dispose of later on.

Then, once your mattress does start to fade, consider reusing its materials for your home projects instead of getting rid of it completely.

For example, you can use the buttons, fabric, and thread to reupholster your furniture.

If reupholstering furniture is too much work, you can also just rip out the foam and padding and use them to build a simply but cushy dog bed. Check out the video below to see how you can do it. Just try not to get distracted by the cute pup in it.

There are many other ways you can upcycle your mattress. The metal wire frames in a box spring can be repurposed as a climbing trellis for your plants or as a fence. The slats on the wooden base, meanwhile, can be turned into roof supports or a park bench — or you can simply light them up to create a cozy backyard fire.

And that's not all. The steel bed springs can be sold as scrap metal while the cotton padding and matting can be added into your compost pile.

See how this one guy did all that and more using just one mattress.

Where To Recycle An Old Mattress

You can recycle your old mattress with Bye Bye Mattress, a state-supported and nonprofit-run program.

As I've mentioned before, mattress recycling is a tricky business, but they can make it a little easier for you.

Managed by the Mattress Recycling Council, the program charges a small tax with each new mattress purchase, enabling the non-profit to assist with retailer buyback and mattress recycling.

infographic from bye bye mattress

Source: Bye Bye Mattress

Unfortunately, the program is only available in California, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.

But don’t worry — if you’re not in one of those states, you can just use our Green Directory to look for recycling centers near you.

Simply type “mattress” into the directory’s search bar, add in your address or zip code, then browse through your local recycling facilities to see who would take a used mattress.

FAQ

How can I get rid of my old mattress for free?

You can get rid of your old mattress for free by recycling it or by donating it to non-profits, shelters, or thrift stores. If that’s not possible, ask your local garbage pickup if they can take it for free. You can also try using Freecycle to connect with someone who might need it locally.

Can you put a mattress out for garbage?

Yes, you can put a mattress out for garbage, but only if your town accepts them. Take note though that doing this may be bad for the environment.

How much does it cost to dump a mattress?

It costs anywhere from $48-$80 to dump a mattress at a landfill, depending on where you live. We don’t recommend this option though because this is the least environmentally friendly way of disposing of a mattress.

Who will take old mattresses away?

Nonprofits like Goodwill or the Salvation Army might take old mattresses away. You can also hire a service, like 1-800-GOT-JUNK to pick it up for you for a fee. If you’re buying a new mattress, the retailer may take away the old one when they deliver the new one to you.

Does anyone buy used mattresses?

Yes, people will buy used mattresses if they are in good condition. If you would buy it, chances are someone else would too. Other mattress owners usually list their old ones in sites like Craigslist, eBay, and Facebook Marketplace.

Does Salvation Army accept mattresses?

Yes, some Salvation Army locations accept mattresses. You need to call their local chapter first to confirm though. Also, make sure that your mattress is clean and well-kept before donating it to them.

Will Costco take my old mattress?

Yes, Costco will take your old mattress. If you live in California, Rhode Island, or Connecticut they are required to do that when they deliver a new mattress to you. If you live elsewhere, you may be able to avail of their removal service as an additional option when you buy a new mattress from them, but there will normally be an additional fee.

Does Goodwill accept used mattresses?

Yes, certain Goodwill chapters accept used mattresses. Call ahead to confirm if your local one does. Before dropping your mattress off to them, be sure to clean it and check for bugs.

Can I cut up a mattress?

Yes, you can cut up a mattress. Some recycling facilities might even require you to do this before they will accept it.

Do mattress stores buy used mattresses?

No, mattress stores won’t buy used mattresses, though they might be able to take your old one away for free (or for a small fee) if you’re buying a new mattress from them.

Final Thoughts

Finding a way to properly dispose of mattresses can feel overwhelming, but there are so many ways to do it responsibly.

To start, take care of your current mattress for as long as possible and try repurposing its materials in useful home projects. When it does finally break down, recycle it instead of letting it end up in a landfill.

Find your nearest recycling center using our Green Directory at the top of this page, cart your mattress over to them, and rest easy knowing that you did your part to keep our environment a little bit greener.


References

  1. https://www.earthday.org/how-our-trash-impacts-the-environment/
  2. https://www.freecycle.org/
  3. https://greenbestpractice.jrc.ec.europa.eu/node/139
  4. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/mattress-information/mattress-disposal-guide


6 Comments on “A Comprehensive Guide on How to Dispose of a Mattress

    This is my 2nd time I am changing the mattress of my bedroom and I always donate it, before giving it to someone I always clean it!
    This is how I get rid of my old mattress!

    Great Post. Thanks for sharing this detailed information about dispose of the mattress and tips to keep the mattress in good condition. It would be really helpful for readers.

    I like the idea of having a junk removal take care of the mattress. I would think they could make sure that it is properly disposed of, as well as make it so you don’t have to borrow a truck or anything. If I ever need to get rid of an old mattress, I’ll have to keep junk removal services in mind as an option.

    Many states now have mattress recycling laws. In these states, the disposal fee supports the value of these recycling programs. If a mattress is being taken to a dump or landfill, there could also be fees charged for drop-off and break-down that has got to be paid by whomever you hired to require away your mattress.

    It makes a lot of sense to check the mattress thoroughly for spots and other issues that might be present and show that it’s been used. My spouse and I are looking to get a new bed this year so that we can finally sleep much better. We need to find a local company that can help us find a new mattress so that we don’t have to worry about these things.

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