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How to dispose of a mattress: A guide to mattress donation and mattress recycling

How to dispose of a mattress: A guide to mattress donation and mattress recycling
(Image credit: Getty)

Buying a new bed is fun and can have a marked difference on how well you sleep, and one of the biggest purchases (both in terms of money and research time) is picking the best mattress for the position you naturally fall asleep in. Shopping is the fun part, but what should you do with your old mattress? Learning how to dispose of a mattress is important, especially if you don't want to add to landfill or harm the environment. If it's in a good condition, it may also be a candidate for donating to charity. 

Depending on where you live, there are a few different mattress disposal options available to you. For instance, some sleep brands will remove your old one while delivering your new bed. There are also proper mattress removal firms and mattress recycling schemes to explore, so you have options that are kinder to the environment. 

Before we get into all that, let’s take a quick look at how to choose a mattress that will last you years to come, so that you don't have to go through this again anytime soon… 

How to buy a mattress that will last a long time

According to the International Sleep Products Association, the average consumer expects to keep a mattress for 8.9 years. However, in order for this to happen it’s worth choosing a mattress with longer-lasting materials and a more durable design. 

While the initial cost might be a little more, there are still plenty of high-quality affordable options from companies like Tuft & Needle, or you might want to think about choosing a mattress that uses long-lasting materials such as Talalay latex, which is also kinder to the planet too. 

If you are on a budget, there are always plenty of offers and deals up for grabs too, so keep an eye out for big savings. These include the best Purple mattress deals and discounts, the best Casper mattress deals and discounts, and the best Saatva mattress discounts. Also, check that your new mattress has a decent manufacturer’s guarantee. Most top brands come with at least a 10-year limited warranty, so it’s worth looking out for this when deciding what to buy, as warranty is a good indicator of long-lasting quality.

Don't forget, there are many types of mattresses out there, including the best cooling mattress for hot sleepers or people going through the menopause. 

How to dispose of a mattress: The basic guidelines

If you want to remove a mattress from your home, the first thing to consider is whether it is good enough to be reused or whether it could be recycled. America’s Mattress Recycling Council claims that more than 80% of mattresses can be recycled, so consider this first before heading to the dump.

If, however, it really is the end of the road for your mattress, then it is essential that it is disposed of correctly. There are many companies you can hire to take a mattress to the dump for you, but bear in mind that extra fees may be charged for drop-off and breakdown of the mattress. If the mattress has odors, dampness, mold or bed bugs, check the guidelines with the removal company first, as it could be that the mattress will need to be dried out or wrapped before it is taken away.

If you have other household items to get rid of too, you might want to hire a dumpster – although, once more, remember to ask the company if taking a mattress will incur any extra costs. Another way to get rid of your mattress is to break it down and dispose of the components separately. Check with the regulations in your state with regards to the proper disposal of materials such as metal and wood.

How to dispose of a mattress: A young woman tries to wrestle a mattress out of her front door

(Image credit: Getty)

How to get rid of an old mattress: Mattress recycling 

If your mattress no longer properly functions as a mattress – maybe it is ripped or sagging in the middle – it can still be recycled. Recycling involves you or someone else taking the mattress apart so that the separate components such as fabric, foam and metal and fabric can be reused for other purposes such as pet beds or vehicle seating. 

Look online to see if there is a mattress recycling centre near you, and how much it will cost for them to take your mattress.  Some companies will also pick up your mattress for you.

Mattress recycling is available nationwide, but some states, such as California, Connecticut and Rhode Island come with legislation that cites mattresses must be recycled responsibly, and this comes with a fee.

Check out the Mattress Recycling Council site for more information and  comprehensive lists on what recycling is available within each state. Earth 911 also has an excellent directory of places that will take mattresses for recycling.

One other way to recycle is to break down the mattress at home and sell on the parts for scrap, or repurpose/upcycle the components to use for craft projects, household mats or upholstery solutions.

Who takes mattress donations in America?

The general rule is if you wouldn’t sleep on the mattress yourself, then it is not fit for donation. Most donation centres and homeless shelters will take mattresses as long as they are fit for purpose, so that means no stains, odours, rips or bugs. Also, if the mattress is sagging in the middle, then it is generally not suitable.

Mattresses also need to be safe, so if you are passing on a mattress because it hasn’t been used for a very long time, check that the safety information on the label is still current. 

There are many charities and non-profit organizations that accept mattress donations; see the following for an option near you:

While some organizations such as The Salvation Army and Goodwill do take larger items, not all of them will take mattresses. Check with your local branches to see if they can help. It’s also worth offering your mattress for free on Craigslist, Facebook or FreeCycle.org to see if anybody is in need of it.

How to dispose of a mattress: A young man and woman bend down to lift an old mattress and take it outside for removal

(Image credit: Getty)

What is mattress removal, and do you have to pay for it?

The cost of removing a mattress can vary wildly, from free if someone offers to pick it up, to over $150 if you rent a dumpster.  Junk removal services such as LoadUp offer a fully comprehensive service, and you can schedule a pickup online. The average cost with LoadUp is around $80, but this varies from state to state. Shop around for different recommended companies online.

Some municipalities also offer curbside pickup, which can be free or cost up to $15 – check the details before you commit to this option, as not all will take mattresses.

If you buy a mattress from online sleep brands, some of them will remove your old mattress as part of their ‘white-glove delivery’ service. Some offer this service for free, while other brands request that customers pay an additional fee. Either way, this service takes the hassle out of mattress removal, leaving you to enjoy your new mattress immediately.

Are there free mattress disposal or mattress pick-up services? 

If you are after a free pick-up for your mattress, it’s worth checking to see if the company you bought your new mattress from will do this for you. If not, some charities such as Goodwill or The Salvation Army offer a free pickup – get in touch to see if this is something that is available in your area. Donation Town also has an online directory of charities that pick up for free.

One of the most reliable ways to ensure free pick-up is to donate the mattress via Facebook or Craigslist and ask that the taker picks it up. Some curbside collection is also free, but this varies between the different municipalities, so check first. 

Looking for more sleep content? We have a number of better sleep guides, from the best pillows for all sleep positions, to the comfiest bed toppers and the best sunrise alarm clocks for helping you to rise and shine. If you’re having trouble falling asleep, we’d recommend downloading a meditation app with sleep sounds, or firing up one of the best sound machines that produce soothing white noise.