8 Reasons You Shouldn’t Buy a Used Mattress

Considering people spend roughly one-third of their lives in bed, it is no surprise that the quality of your mattress can affect your overall health and well-being. Therefore, it is vital that you choose the most comfortable and supportive mattress possible. The best mattress for  a person varies, but a little bit of research can help them pick out the perfect bed.

Since mattresses are a big investment,  you may be tempted to go for a used model because they’re easier on your wallet and sometimes even free. However, secondhand mattresses are typically worn-out and unsanitary—for this reason, it’s actually against the law in some states to sell used mattresses. Even if you can find a high-quality, gently-used mattress, it still has its downsides, including a lack of warranty and returns.

1. Reduced Life Span

Old and used mattresses won’t last as long as new ones since they’re already worn in. Just how long does a mattress last? Most high-quality beds last 7 to 10 years, so if you buy a 5-year-old mattress,  it may only last 2 to 5 years.

You can’t always know exactly how old a mattress is when you buy it used, either. While you’re spending less upfront for a used mattress versus a new one, you ultimately pay more since you’ll need to buy a second mattress sooner.

2. Bed Bugs and Dust Mites

An old and used mattress may have accumulated bed bugs and dust mites after years of use. While you can find a newer used mattress, you still don’t know where it’s been and just how clean it is.

Bed bugs and dust mites are hard to spot, so you might think your used bed is clean upon purchasing it, only to discover bug bites later on.  If you have allergies or asthma, bed bugs and dust mites can trigger a reaction, such as coughing, runny nose, irritated skin, and difficulty breathing. Therefore, it is especially important to rest on a clean mattress.

While it is possible to get rid of bed bugs, the process is quite the hassle. You will have to be on the lookout for bed bugs for up to a year. Better to save yourself the trouble by not buying a used mattress.

3. Lack of Warranty

Most mattress companies offer warranties protecting the beds from workmanship and quality defects, namely sags beyond a certain depth. Warranties are especially important when making a big purchase because they ensure the product will last.  Used mattresses may be so old that their warranty has expired. .

Also, when a mattress is sold, the warranty isn’t transferable, even if the bed is only one or two years old. So, if down the line, your used mattress has a problem, there’s nothing you can do about it except tough it out, pay for repairs yourself, or replace the mattress entirely.

4. No Returns

New mattresses almost always come with sleep trials and usually have generous, hassle-free returns. When buying secondhand, the sales are final.

People selling their old mattresses aren’t salespeople or a big company. They’re usually just trying to get rid of something they no longer have any use for, so it’s unlikely they’d be willing to take the bed back and refund you if you dislike it. Even if you never use your secondhand mattress, you’re stuck with it and cannot receive a refund.

5. Hygiene Risks

Unlike bed sheets and blankets, you can’t wash an entire mattress. A used bed could harbor bacteria you’re unaware of beyond just bugs, such as sweat, bodily fluids, hair, and lint. The previous owner may have spilled food or drinks onto the bed. There might be mold and mildew growth you’re unaware of.

Even if you’re buying the bed from somebody you know, people use their bed every night. Consider how much bacteria and fluid have collected in the mattress over time.

6. Lack of Quality Control

When buying a used bed, you can’t be positive the mattress is comfortable and made of high-quality materials. Most sellers won’t remember the exact mattress they have, not to mention the construction details. Therefore, they won’t be able to relay this information back to you.

In some cases, the seller may not remember exactly how old the mattress is either. You might end up with the incorrect firmness or materials you dislike and find uncomfortable.

Also, you won’t know how well the previous owner took care of the mattress. There may be broken coils, torn foam, and sagging, all of which can create an unsupportive sleep surface. If the previous owner used the mattress on a bad foundation, such as the floor or weak slatted wood, it may be even more worn-down and beyond repair.

7. Aging Materials and Technologies

Now, aging materials and technologies aren’t a problem for all used mattresses, since you can find newer beds. However, some can be a decade or two older and contain outdated technology, such as an innerspring foundation or traditional memory foam. Newer mattress companies stay up-to-date with the best sleep technology and include all sorts of materials for optimal comfort and support.

An innerspring mattress is noisy and prone to breakage. It’s newer alternative, the hybrid mattress, is more durable, quiet and provides better pressure relief. Traditional memory foam gets very hot and wears down quickly, so most companies use plant-based or gel-infused memory foam for enhanced durability and coolness.

8. No Delivery

While some used mattress sellers may offer to drop the mattress off for you, this isn’t a guarantee. You’ll likely have to make your own accommodations for delivery. Shipping is an added cost and for an item as large as a mattress, it can sometimes cost several hundred dollars.

Regular mattress stores usually have free delivery and may even offer to donate or recycle your old bed; however, this isn’t an option when buying secondhand.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it ever okay to buy a used mattress?

We normally don’t recommend buying a used mattress, but if the times are tough and you’re on a very tight budget, sometimes a used mattress is your only option.

If so, search meticulously for a gently-used or never used mattress, ideally from someone you know and whose judgment you trust so you can look at the mattress before buying. Another option is to shop from a secondhand store with good quality-assurance policies.

Before putting any money down on a used mattress, check it for damage, stains, and bugs. Even if it looks clean, sanitize it with a cleaning solution or antibacterial spray before using it and encase it with a mattress cover. You can read our guide on cleaning a mattress for some tips.

Again, with used mattresses, you still don’t get a warranty, returns, and financing options, so you’re stuck with whatever you purchase. If it’s within reason, you might consider financing a mattress instead, since many companies offer payment plans with little to no interest.

What are refurbished mattresses?

Refurbished mattresses are also known as reconditioned or remanufactured, but it’s just a fancy term for used. The only difference between a refurbished and used mattress is refurbished models are sanitized and sometimes repaired.

You can commonly find refurbished mattresses at thrift stores, charities, and secondhand furniture stores. While a refurbished bed is a bit better than a used one, it’s usually not worth buying.

Should you buy a floor model mattress?

Floor model mattresses are similar to used ones since they are technically used. In fact, even more people have probably laid on a floor model than the used one, since many customers visit stores to test out mattresses.

With a floor model, you get more information about the mattress’s construction, materials, and firmness, but it’s still worn down and you can’t guarantee its cleanliness. Also, floor models are normally sold as-is and are final sale, so you won’t be able to return it if it’s not right for you.

What should you do with your used mattress?

If your mattress is gently used, some charities will accept it, such as homeless shelters and non-profit organizations, to give those in need somewhere to sleep. If your mattress is beyond repair, it’s doubtful charities will accept it and you should simply recycle it. For more information, check out our guide to disposing of an old mattress.

Do you need a really expensive mattress?

While we don’t recommend buying a used mattress, you don’t need an expensive one either. Some mattresses run over $3000, and while they’re luxurious and contain unique materials, the materials hardly affect your overall comfort and support.

You can find a high-quality queen size mattress for $500 to $1500. Online shopping has made mattress shopping much more accessible and affordable because there are minimal overhead costs, so everyone can get a good night’s sleep.

Some mattress types are also less expensive than others. For example, while latex and hybrid mattresses can have high price tags, it's easy to find a good memory foam mattress under $1000.

Conclusion

Your mattress makes an enormous difference in your sleep quality, overall health, and mood during the day. Therefore, you should invest in a high-quality model and make it worth your money. Mattresses aren’t something you should skimp out on, especially since they’re an item you’ll use every night for years to come.

Although you can technically buy an old mattress and put a new mattress topper on it for extra comfort, this will only temporarily fix the mattress at best. Plus, old mattresses can still be quite saggy and unsanitary, so we encourage you to buy a new bed.

You can find affordable and high-quality new mattresses, especially when it comes to online mattresses. There’s much less risk involved with buying a new mattress because you can ensure it’s clean, supportive, and suits your sleeping position and size.

This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.

Andrew Russell, Wellness Writer Andrew Russell

Andrew Russell is a part-time writer and full-time sleep enthusiast. At Zoma, Andrew lends his sleep expertise and writes many of our “better sleep” guides. Outside of Zoma, Andrew puts his advice to the test, always trying new ways to get deeper, more restorative sleep. We appreciate Andrew because he doesn’t give advice that he doesn’t follow himself, so you can feel confident his solutions for better sleep really do the trick.

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