How to Dispose and Get Rid of an Old Mattress

Many shoppers must consider an awkward question after purchasing a new mattress: “How do I get rid of my old mattress?” You likely can’t take it out with your other trash, after all.

Plus, with a growing public focus on the environment and sustainability, many people don’t want to send their mattresses to the dump. According to a 2017 paper from Cascade Alliance, Americans toss out an estimated 20 million mattresses and box springs every year—that’s roughly 55,000 every day.

It’s projected most of those discarded mattresses end up in landfills or incinerators, and mattresses in landfills take up more than 100 million cubic feet of space every year.

The paper details the other problems of mattresses in landfills. They’re not only bulky but establish flammable air pockets and bulldozers that compact waste can become damaged by their materials.

That brings us back to the question of how to dispose of an old mattress in a responsible manner. We offer four methods for consideration.

1. Removal Service with a New Mattress Purchase

Mattress removal services are a part of white glove delivery. Many mattress stores and online mattress retailers will not only set up your new mattress but take your old mattress for a fee. Then, the company will either donate, recycle, or trash the mattress.

The main advantage of this method is how little it inconveniences you. Aside from paying for the service, you don’t have to do any work. However, the downside is this service usually doesn’t come cheap, with many companies charging at least a couple hundred dollars.

2. Donating Your Mattress

Perhaps the nicest thing you can do with an old mattress is donating it for someone else to use. However, there are two issues with this approach. First, not all old mattresses are fit for another person to use. Second, you may encounter difficulties finding a charity that accepts used mattresses.

Before you prepare to donate your mattress, please take a good, hard look at its condition. Does it look clean after a thorough vacuuming and spot cleaning? Does it still feel supportive and comfortable where you lie down, with no spots where the bed sinks and sags? If you answer no to either question, your mattress isn’t fit for donation.

Many large charitable organizations that once accepted used mattresses no longer do so. For example, Habitat for Humanity has a flowchart of items they accept for their ReStores, but mattresses fall into the “No” category. Larger organizations you may consider include Furniture Banks, formerly known as Furniture Bank Association of America.

You may also find more success by reaching out to local charities, such as homeless shelters. Donationtown can help you find a local charity and schedule a free pickup.

Is your mattress still in serviceable condition, but you can’t find a place to donate it? Try asking around if there’s anyone interested in a gently used mattress. There are many apps and websites where you can post about a free mattress for anyone in your local area to pick up.

3. Recycling Your Mattress

Is your mattress unfit for anyone to sleep on? You don’t have to toss it in the garbage. Instead, try recycling it.

Up to 85 percent of the average mattress’s materials are recyclable after the bed is taken apart. Breaking down a mattress to repurpose it saves 23 cubic feet of landfill space and yields as much as 65 pounds of reusable material.

Find a Recycling Center

The simplest way to repurpose your mattress is to let the professionals take care of it. Many areas have a local recycling center that will take a mattress as is, though they may have several restrictions, such as no mattresses infested with bed bugs. These recycling centers may even pick up your mattress at your home for a nominal fee.

Bye Bye Mattress offers a list of mattress recycling centers across the USA. Earth911 covers recycling centers across North America and lets you search by your zip code and what products you want to recycle.

You can also take the direct approach and call up your town’s municipal office. Do a web search to find what department handles trash collection and recycling and how to contact them.

A few states have even adopted a statewide approach to recycling mattresses. Cascade Alliance’s paper discusses the specific mattress recycling programs Connecticut, California, and Rhode Island have under the Mattress Recycling Council:

  • Connecticut was the first state to approve a mattress recycling law to break down mattresses into reusable materials. There are 130 permanent mattress collection sites, six collection events throughout the year, and two recycling facilities serving the state.
  • California has over 200 mattress collection sites and more than 100 collection events every year. Ten recycling facilities serve the state.
  • Rhode Island has 35 mattress collection sites and three collection events in a year. Three recycling facilities serve the state.

DIY Recycling or Upcycling

Do you lack a local recycling center that accepts mattresses? You don’t have to toss your bed just yet. If you have the space for it and are willing to put in the time and effort, take apart your mattress yourself. You can either break it down into parts a recycling center will accept or repurpose the parts for your own projects.

Creative people may enjoy the chance to repurpose their mattress through upcycling. What is upcycling? It’s the practice of converting a product into something else.

Turn scrap metal, wooden beams, old fabric into art pieces. Bedsprings can make a metallic wreath, for example. Use old foam and fabric as padding or insulation.

If you have a compost heap or a garden, you can mulch the mattress’s wooden parts and use it as fertilizer. Fabrics with natural fibers, such as 100 percent cotton, also compost well.

Are you stalled on ideas? Try an Internet search for project possibilities. Many people have posted about how they refashioned their mattress into other furnishings.

However, we advise caution if you’re thinking about upcycling mattress foams to make pillows and pet beds. While other blogs may recommend this, we do not. Mattresses often accumulate irritants that trigger allergies, along with general gross stuff like dirt, dust, and debris. Ask yourself if you really want you and your pet sleeping on potentially dirty and old mattress padding.

4. Trashing Your Mattress

If all else fails, toss your mattress out. However, this often isn’t as simple as setting your mattress out with the rest of your trash. Many areas have specific restrictions on when and how they pick up mattresses.

The Internet can help you find out the rules for your local area. For example, some places require you to wrap your mattress in plastic before setting it out for pickup. Other areas limit how many bulky items you can leave outside for pickup.

If your local garbage collection won’t take away your mattress, or you just don’t want to wait for the next pickup date, you can look up dumpster rental and junk removal services in your area. It’s best to shop around before you settle on one, as these services’ prices vary widely.

Is it Time for a New Mattress?

Now that you know what to do with an old bed, you may be wondering if it’s time to replace your mattress. You may ask, “How often do you replace a mattress?” but there’s no one magical number. A number of factors determine how long your bed is likely to last, such as the bed’s materials and your body type.

One of the biggest factors to determine how long a mattress will last is its bed type:

  • Memory foam mattresses last about 7 years, though a well-made model may last 8 to 10 years.
  • The lifespan of a latex mattress depends on whether it’s made with natural or synthetic latex. A natural latex bed may last up to  15 years, while a synthetic latex mattress lasts about as long as a memory foam bed.
  • Innerspring mattresses often last 5 to 6 years.
  • Hybrid mattresses may last about 7 years.

Want to know if your mattress is still fit to sleep on? It may be better to take a look at its condition than its age. If any of these sound familiar, it’s time to throw out your mattress and replace it with a new one:

  • Your bed has noticeable lumps, rips, or indentations. All of these traits affect your bed’s comfort. While it is possible to fix up a sagging mattress so that it feels better, it still won’t compare to the feel of a new, properly supportive mattress.
  • You wake up with a bad back or sore joints. A good mattress relieves pain, so if you wake up feeling worse than when you went to bed, it may signify your mattress has gone bad.
  • You sleep a full eight hours but wake up tired and sore. When your mattress loses support and cushion as its materials wear down, you may struggle to sleep well, tossing and turning to find a comfortable position. Similarly, a sudden case of recurring insomnia may stem from using a bad mattress.
  • Your allergy symptoms spike after waking up. Mattresses can accumulate dirt, dust mites, pollen, and other irritants over the years, especially innerspring beds with an airy design. There’s no real way to clean out all these allergens, so if you spend your mornings sneezing and coughing, it’s best to look for a new mattress.

Mattress Types to Consider

Before you shop for a new mattress, you want to reflect on what type of mattress you would like. Most people are drawn to one of four mattress types—memory foam, latex, innerspring, and hybrid mattresses.

Memory foam mattresses are becoming more common in homes. They’re affordable and have a good reputation for relieving pressure and pain. Traditional memory foam mattresses often retain an uncomfortable amount of body heat, but many modern memory foam beds have cooling features to promote a temperature-neutral surface.

Latex mattresses are a well-liked alternative to memory foam mattresses since they possess a similar conforming feel. Natural latex is sustainably produced, making it a popular choice for eco-friendly shoppers. Many owners also enjoy how latex is more buoyant than the average memory foam, keeping them on top of the mattress. Still, a latex bed usually costs far more than a memory foam mattress.

If you’re having difficulty deciding between the two foam types, read our memory foam vs. latex guide.

Innerspring mattresses are the traditional bed, though they’ve begun losing popularity as other mattress types have risen to prominence. Still, innerspring mattresses remain a common choice because people are familiar with their design. The beds are sold at affordable prices in many mattress showrooms and furniture stores.

Hybrid mattresses combine elements from an innerspring mattress with a foam bed. Their design promotes a cooling surface for hot sleepers, with air free to circulate between the coils. Sleepers interested in bouncy mattresses often find that a hybrid provides more pressure relief than an innerspring mattress.

Any of these mattress types can be the best mattress for someone. Ask yourself which is the best mattress type for you.

Know Your Sleep Style

The other factor to consider when looking for a new mattress is what firmness works best with your sleeping style. People feel more comfortable on certain firmnesses because of their favorite sleeping position and body type.

Sleepers often prefer one of three sleeping positions, while people who move between two or three positions are known as combination sleepers. The best firmness range for each are as follows:

  • A mattress for side sleeping should have a soft to medium feel. The top layer should cushion the shoulders and hips to limit pressure build-up.
  • A mattress for back sleeping should offer a medium to firm feel. A medium mattress with targeted lumbar support is excellent for back sleepers hunting for a soft bed.
  • A mattress for stomach sleeping should have a firm feel to minimize sinkage. Otherwise, a stomach sleeper’s abdomen may sink too far, misaligning their spine.
  • A mattress for combination sleeping should have a medium feel with a buoyant lift. A responsive mattress keeps a combo sleeper from feeling stuck as they switch positions.

Your bodyweight is worth considering if you weigh under 130 pounds or over 230 pounds:

  • A petite person often benefits from a soft mattress for more pressure relief. Otherwise, their bodies may not press down hard enough for the mattress to contour to their body.
  • A mattress for a heavy person may last longer if it has a firm feel. A firm mattress often takes on a person’s body weight better than a soft mattress.

Frequently Asked Questions

When should I throw out my mattress?

There’s no set time frame for when a mattress should be thrown out. Different materials wear down differently, and while low-quality mattresses might need to be disposed of within a few years, high-quality mattresses can still feel comfortable after a decade.

Instead of asking how old your mattress is, consider the condition it’s in. A mattress with indentations, lumps, or tears may no longer be fit to sleep on.

Before you throw out your mattress, check if the damage falls under its warranty. Most companies will replace or repair a mattress if it sags beyond a certain point. However, the exact depth needed for coverage varies. 

Zoma covers any bed that sags beyond 0.75 inches. Other companies may not offer coverage until the sagging exceeds an inch, 1.5 inches, or even 2 inches.

How do I get rid of bed bugs in my mattress?

You can employ a few DIY methods to get rid of bed bugs or call in a professional exterminator. Potential ways to kill bed bugs include extreme temperatures and non-toxic, EPA-registered insecticides.

However, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. We recommend a pest-proof mattress protector to keep out bed bugs. As a bonus, these protectors keep out dust mites that can trigger allergies.

Bed bugs are often brought into a house after traveling. It’s best to wash and dry all your traveling clothes immediately after returning home. Be sure to store luggage away from your bedroom.

Should I throw out my mattress if I have bed bugs?

You don’t have to throw out your mattress if you discover bed bugs, but that’s often simpler than the steps you have to take to clear out bed bugs from your mattress. However, disposing of your mattress, bedding, and possibly even your bed frame is not guaranteed to leave your bed bug-free. It will likely get rid of a large percentage, but bed bugs may be hiding in other areas around the bedroom.

You will likely still need to take some steps to eliminate bed bugs in your home, even if you throw out your mattress.

If you leave an infested mattress for a pickup service to collect outside, leave a note about the bed bugs or mark it up so that it’s no longer usable. That way, no one will be tempted to claim what appears to be serviceable furniture. Arrange for a trash pickup as soon as possible.

Can a mattress last 20 years?

While it’s theoretically possible for a mattress to last 20 years, it’s unlikely if you sleep on a bed every night. The pressure from your body inevitably wears down foam layers and supportive coils. Eventually, the mattress will no longer provide the support you need, with even high-quality mattresses losing support within 10 to 15 years.

How do you clean a mattress?

Cleaning your mattress every three to six months will keep it smelling fresh and feeling fine. To clean a mattress, follow these six steps:

  1. Strip all bedding off your mattress.
  2. Vacuum all sides of your mattress.
  3. Carefully spot clean any stains by blotting with a cloth and cleaner.
  4. Sprinkle baking soda across the mattress. Leave it for at least half an hour.
  5. Wipe down the bed frame.
  6. Vacuum up the baking soda and redress your mattress.

You can care for your mattress between deep cleaning sessions by vacuuming it. Don’t just vacuum the top of your mattress but also the sides and under the base.

Did We Help with Disposing of Your Mattress?

You have quite a few options to choose from when it comes to mattress disposal. You may consider donating or recycling your old mattress instead of trashing it. Many people enjoy the creative freedom from upcycling their mattresses.

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

Sarah Anderson, Editor-in-Chief Sarah Anderson

Sarah Anderson is a sleep, health, and wellness writer and product reviewer. She has written articles on changing and improving your sleep schedule, choosing the right mattress for chronic pain conditions, and finding the best pillow for you. Sarah Anderson has her Bachelor of Arts degree from Arizona State University in Journalism and Mass Communications. Prior to working for Zoma, she wrote for a variety of news publications. Sarah's work has been featured on Bustle, PureWow, and other publications.

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