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Mattress Disposal: How to Dispose of a Mattress Safely

Are you walking around with aches and pains all over your body? Perhaps your mattress is past its prime and it’s time to dispose of it. When it’s time to say goodbye to your old mattress, it’s important to do it legally and safely. Here are a few ways you can safely dispose of your mattress:

dingy old mattress

How to Dispose of a Mattress Safely and Properly

  • Mattress Donation
  • Sell Your Mattress
  • Trade-In Your Mattress
  • Recycle Your Mattress
  • Repurpose Your Mattress
  • Contact a Waste Disposal Service

You might be tempted to push your mattress to sea, then shoot flaming arrows over the water and let it burn like the heathen kings of old. That would certainly be cool, and would definitely provide a reason to get some friends together for roast meat and mead — but it would probably just upset the neighbors and release some noxious, toxic junk into the air (all-natural mattresses made from goose feathers have been out of style since the Middle Ages). You’ll have better luck choosing these options instead:

Mattress Donation

A mattress is one of the more expensive furnishings anyone needs for the home. For better or worse, it’s also probably one of the most necessary. You can do without an armoire or a mirrored cabinet for displaying fine china, but you do need a mattress. As it turns out, sleeping on the floor hurts. So, if it’s time to get rid of your mattress, you could donate it to someone in need. Keep in mind that many local charities won’t accept a mattress donation, due to sanitary issues (mattresses tend to soak up a lot of bodily fluids and oils) and the possibility of bed bugs.

But if your mattress is still in decent shape, you can conduct a search of local thrift stores and or charitable organizations and see if any of them are interested in helping someone in need get a restful night’s sleep. This is not the type of item you can just leave in the donation container, so you may have to make special arrangements with the charity. If you can’t find an organization that’s interested, you could always donate it to a lucky friend or family member whose bed needs some new padding.

Sell Your Mattress

Another option for getting rid of your old mattress also involves picking up some extra cash. Check to see if selling a mattress is legal in your state — it may not be. Some states require that your mattress be cleaned in a very specific way, and the process could be more rigorous and time-consuming than you may think. That said, if your state allows used mattress sales, then try and sell it locally. You won’t be able to ship your mattress anywhere in a cost-affordable way, and you don’t want to drive too far with it tied to the roof of your car.

Take good pictures of the mattress and post it on the standard venues like Craigslist. There are now some awesome apps like OfferUp that are fairly active. You could also create a flyer and leave it in highly trafficked areas like a Starbucks or the local library. Helpful hint: If you want to minimize the damage your mattress takes over the years, always use a mattress cover. Also, if you’re looking to get rid of your bed as well, this can be a convenient way to sell the whole kit and caboodle.

Trade-In Your Mattress

If you’ve ever purchased or leased a new car, you might be familiar with the fact that you can actually bring your old car in and get a sweet chunk of change towards your new ride. You might be surprised to learn that some mattress stores are also willing to broker such a deal.

Usually, this type of arrangement is a marketing gimmick to get you in the door. You might get a few dollars towards your new purchase, and if that’s the case, why not take it? If you’re looking for a mattress online, don’t worry. Some vendors will even pick up your old mattress if they’re bringing you a new one. If you’re going all-in and picking the best mattress you possibly can, the store you’re buying it from should be more than happy to help you dispose of your old mattress.

Recycle Your Mattress

Some states will contract a local hauling company to pick up your mattress and bring it to a recycling drop-off or environmental center. Usually, the fee for this recycling service is pretty nominal. Working with a recycling center to haul away your mattress is a good way to make sure it’s done safely and responsibly.

Be careful who you hire. Some hauling companies, especially smaller independent ones (you know, like the dude with a pickup truck), may tell you that they’ll recycle your mattress — but instead, they’ll just dump it in the most convenient location, which may or may not be environmentally ethical. It could end up in a dumpster, a lake, or anywhere that doesn’t charge a fee.

You may have better luck contacting a local university to see what they do about recycling. Universities tend to have a need for recycling large volumes of furnishings (and other junk) frequently and may be able to refer you to a good recycling center. A recycling facility may also be able to help you ethically dispose of mattress accessories that have become junk, like a mattress pad or bed frame.

Repurpose Your Mattress

Remember that show American Gladiator? Contestants would try and prove their mettle by running through obstacle courses and getting pelted with various items. Well, if you need some soft padding for an in-home version of this classic show, consider taking recycling to a whole new level and repurposing your mattress.

On a more serious note, you can actually find some pretty cool and useful things inside your mattress, like the wood frame, steel springs, and polyurethane. These items can become useful for crafts and home improvement projects.

You could use the foam for packing and sell the coils as scrap metal. If you’re super-crafty or just frequently on Pinterest, you’ll find that there are some awesome things you can do with your old mattress coils: a wine rack, garden planter, or hanging rack for the kitchen are just a few of the bohemian touches you can add to your home. Who knew how many interior decorating secrets were contained within the untapped mystique of your mattress?

Contact a Waste Disposal Service

Call your local sanitation department and see if mattress pickup and disposal is part of curbside collection in your area. It may not be, so don’t just assume it is and leave that junk on the curb — or it may sit there for quite some time. Even if your neighborhood does have a waste disposal service, there may extra stipulations about bulky items. For example, you may be required to wrap the mattress in a plastic mattress bag before it’s picked up, or there may be a special fee for the removal of large items.

If the local sanitation department won’t pick it up, they may still accept it at the landfill, transfer station, or drop-off locations. If that’s the case, you can ask them to refer you to an accredited hauling or junk removal service for pickup. Again, you may want to avoid using an independent hauler who will just dump your junk wherever he can … unless you feel strongly compelled by a plethora of “Save the Whales” and “Greenpeace” bumper stickers on his truck.

If tossing your mattress is part of a larger bedroom remodeling project, you might look into a dumpster rental company that can park a roll-off container in front of your home. This way, you can dispose of the bulk trash that comes with ongoing remodeling.

Environmental Considerations of Mattress Disposal

Environmental concerns are a big reason why it’s important to dispose of your mattress properly. We live in a society that creates a lot of trash — from plastic bags to old printer cartridges — so it’s no surprise that we often think it’s okay to haphazardly toss junk that has to go. But responsible waste management is important to consider when disposing of something that can’t fit in the trash bin.

Old mattresses typically don’t compact very well. Unlike other types of solid waste that can easily be crushed into submission, a mattress is like William Wallace at the end of Braveheart: “They can take our lives, but they will never crush my innerspring mattress!” This is especially true with a heavy foam mattress, which just tends to bounce back into shape, thanks to its space-age technology.

Here’s an interesting fact: If the millions of mattresses discarded every year could be laid side by side, they would take up more than six figures of square miles. To give you some comparison, San Francisco proper takes up less than 50 square miles. Now, we’re not saying that all these mattresses are creating a Great Wall of Junk that’s visible from outer space, but it is a huge amount of waste that can be properly recycled or repurposed with a little extra effort — without having to resort to illegal dumping.

Mattresses may also contain chemicals like formaldehyde, benzene, and naphthalene. The amount of these chemicals in each mattress is low, but our landfills are filling up with hazardous waste materials from mattresses, appliances, and computers. Some mattresses may also contain flame retardants — which is great for people falling asleep with a cigarette in their hands (please don’t try it) but bad for the environment.

That’s why some states (like California) and even companies (like IKEA) have launched statewide or even national mattress removal services and recycling programs to help consumers dispose of their mattresses in an environmentally sustainable way. There are also organizations like ByeBye Mattress and Earth911 that can help you find a local outlet for getting rid of your old pad.

Of course, the presence of some of these chemicals and compounds is concerning to many consumers before they get rid of their mattress … since the mattress is in their bedroom. To that end, you can check out some reviews of mattresses that combine the best of environmental sustainability and comfort technology.

How to Dispose of a Mattress Safely and Properly

From DIY enthusiasts with a love of Bohemian decor to busy parents who just want that old mattress gone, there are plenty of options for disposing of your old mattress safely and properly. Sometimes, you can trade it in when you get a new one, but other times you’ll have to make the effort on your own.

It can be very tempting to just toss your old mattress. A mattress is usually pretty hard to sell or even give away. In many places, just disposing of it properly can be a huge hassle. But by leaving your mattress out on the curb or in your yard, tossing it in the woods, or clandestinely throwing it in a nearby dumpster, you can be inadvertently putting some hazardous materials out there to decompose in the environment.

With a little extra effort, you can be doing your part to make sure that your old mattress isn’t leaving a lasting effect on Planet Earth. As you calmly rest on your comfortable, new mattress, you’ll feel glad that your conscience isn’t keeping you up at night because of what you did to your old one.