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How to Dispose of a Mattress: Mattress Disposal Guide

By: Christina Davies
Updated on: April 05, 2024

While embarking on the journey to find the perfect mattress can be a source of frustration, every mattress owner eventually reaches a point where it becomes evident that an upgrade is necessary. Some individuals opt to change their mattresses due to a desire for a new model or a different mattress type. Others seek a replacement because their comfort preferences have evolved over time, often due to factors such as age, weight fluctuations, or injuries. Nonetheless, even those who aren’t actively exploring alternative mattresses will inevitably face the need to replace their current ones.

Various avenues exist for parting with a used mattress, ranging from recycling and donation to disposal. The appropriate method depends on several factors, including the mattress’s condition, your location, and the available disposal and donation services in proximity.

In this guide, we will explore the different approaches to mattress disposal, help you select the most suitable option, and provide guidance on executing the disposal process effectively.

How Do I Know if I’m Ready For A New Mattress?

Determining whether it’s time to replace your mattress involves more than just a fixed timeframe. On average, mattresses are swapped out every eight years, but the longevity depends on the mattress type. Hybrid innerspring foam mattresses usually need replacing around six years, while plain innerspring ones might stretch to 10 years, especially if they’re double-sided. Memory foam and latex mattresses can endure up to 15 years with proper care.

These timelines, though informative, are just averages. Individual mattresses may deviate, influenced by factors like construction, materials, upkeep, and bedroom conditions. The true gauge for a mattress change is how it performs and affects your sleep quality. Does it still deliver the same comfort and support as before? Look for these indications that it’s time to bid your old mattress adieu:

  • Wear and Tear: Physical degradation signals its time. Visible sags, lumps, or indentations can disrupt your sleep.
  • Quality of Sleep: If you notice a dip in sleep quality—waking up tired, experiencing discomfort, or struggling to find a comfortable position—it might be due to your mattress.
  • Sagging: A noticeable dip in the mattress surface, especially where you sleep, indicates a loss of support.
  • Lumps: Uneven areas or lumps can make sleeping uncomfortable and unevenly distribute your weight.
  • Hammocking: When you feel like you’re sinking into a hammock-like shape, your mattress has likely lost its firmness.
  • Feeling Partner’s Movements: If you suddenly feel every toss and turn your partner makes, it’s a sign the mattress is losing its ability to isolate motion.
  • Noisy Springs: Creaking or noisy springs can disrupt your sleep and signal a deteriorating mattress structure.

Aside from these signs, life changes like sharing your bed with a partner or adding a pet might warrant a mattress change to accommodate the altered weight distribution.

Once you’ve decided on a replacement, selected a new mattress, and are ready to bring it home, you’ll need to address the matter of responsibly disposing of your old mattress.

Donating Your Mattress

Choosing to donate your mattress instead of simply discarding it can have a meaningful impact on those in need, all while creating space for your new bedding.

However, it’s crucial to remember that not all mattresses are suitable for donation.

While there can be various reasons behind the choice to invest in a new mattress, some individuals dispose of their old mattresses due to excessive wear and tear, rendering them unusable. Such mattresses should not be considered for donation. Additionally, due to the influx of more affordable, higher quality beds and the necessity to adhere to regulations and sanitation standards, charitable organizations and shelters have become more selective in the mattresses they can accept as donations. Apart from being impolite, presenting a mattress of subpar condition is likely to end up as an unproductive effort for both you and the dedicated staff and volunteers working at these establishments.

So How Do You Know If Your Mattress is in Good Enough Shape to be Donated?

Determining whether your mattress is suitable for donation involves considering several factors. Different charitable organizations and shelters have their own criteria, but here are some general guidelines to help you assess the condition of your mattress:

Infestations

It’s crucial not to donate mattresses with any type of infestation, such as bed bugs or mold. Even if you’ve attempted to address surface-level issues, these pests can often persist deep within the mattress. Mattresses that have been affected by infestations should not be considered for donation.

Significant Structural Issues

Mattresses with major structural problems, like broken or protruding coils, are not fit for donation. These issues are usually noticeable when you sleep on the mattress or even from a visual inspection. Excessive sagging, irregular bunching, and permanent indentations from wear and tear also render a mattress unsuitable for passing on to others.

Tears, Rips, and Holes

Avoid donating mattresses with conspicuous tears, rips, or holes. This includes seams that have come apart, substantial gashes, as well as minor punctures from sources like pet claws or cigarette burns. Before donating, ensure that the mattress cover is securely intact.

Stains

Any mattresses with noticeable stains should not be donated. This encompasses both large and small stains from various substances, along with evident and permanent discoloration due to extended use. However, for minor spots or stains that might be resolved through do-it-yourself cleaning, you can explore some techniques to restore the mattress’s condition for donation potentially.

  • Vacuum: It might sound unconventional, but giving your mattress a thorough vacuuming on its top and sides can work wonders in eliminating pet hair, dander, dust, and even those unexpected crumbs. Opt for a handheld or compact vacuum if available, although a standard vacuum will also suffice.
  • Tackle Spots: Should you come across minor stains on your mattress, there are a few strategies to consider. An eco-friendly enzyme cleaner can be applied to break down the stain chemically. Alternatively, if you’re feeling hands-on, concoct a mixture of liquid dish soap, hydrogen peroxide, and baking soda. Spray this solution on the stains, then gently blot and dry with clean, damp cloths. Another DIY approach involves combining salt and lemon juice into a thick mixture, applying it to the stain, and wiping it away after 45 minutes to an hour.

Banish Odors

While we can become accustomed to the scents in our living spaces, a potent odor coming from your mattress should raise red flags. To be sure, invite an impartial individual over for a sniff test. Should you detect any lingering odors, consider this remedy: sprinkle a layer of baking soda across the mattress surface and allow it to sit for a few hours. Remove the baking soda with a vacuum and, when feasible, allow the mattress to ventilate outdoors. If any lingering odor remains, it’s wise to reconsider donating the mattress.

Donation-Worthy Assessment

As a general guideline, assessing whether your mattress meets the standards for donation is rooted in common sense. Ensure the mattress is clean and free from structural issues, infestations, or unpleasant smells. A mattress can’t be of assistance if it’s unusable. Put yourself in the recipient’s shoes—would you be content with receiving this mattress as a donation? If not, it’s worth exploring alternative options.

If you’re confident in the mattress’s suitability for donation, that’s fantastic! Proceed to the next step: selecting an appropriate donation destination.

Larger Organizations

These are large-scale organizations with branches throughout North America and, in some cases, worldwide.

  • Goodwill: Goodwill is a network of non-profit organizations spanning North America. They sell donated items in thrift stores to support employment programs for individuals facing barriers like disabilities or limited work histories. Goodwill has over 160 local branches in the US and Canada, each with unique policies. Some locations accept mattresses in good condition, and they might even offer home pick-up. It’s advisable to contact your local Goodwill to confirm their mattress donation policies.
  • Habitat for Humanity: Habitat for Humanity is a global organization dedicated to providing affordable and sustainable housing. They operate thrift stores called ReStore, using the sales to fund housing projects. ReStore’s policies differ across locations, including mattress donation acceptance and pick-up availability. If you’re considering donating a mattress, get in touch with your nearest ReStore for their guidelines.
  • Furniture Bank Association of America: The Furniture Bank Association of America (FBA) is a network of furniture banks that offer furniture to underserved communities. With over 80 locations in the US, FBA generally accepts mattresses in good condition. They usually offer mattress collection if you’re within 20 miles of a furniture bank, though some locations might travel farther. If you’re close to a furniture bank and have a suitable mattress, contacting them in advance is a good step. Their sister organization, Furniture Banks Across America, provides similar services.
  • Catholic Charities: Catholic Charities operates across the US, aiding various vulnerable groups regardless of their religious beliefs. They manage programs for children, refugees, homeless individuals, and those with disabilities. Catholic Charities often runs housing programs and shelters, occasionally requiring suitable mattresses for donations, especially twin and full sizes. Check their website for local programs in need of mattresses. In many cases, they also offer mattress pickup services.

Local Donations

Consider focusing on local donations rather than larger organizations, as they often have stricter policies against mattress donations due to regulations and space constraints. Instead, look for smaller local collectives, private businesses, non-profits, and organizations that can make a direct impact in your community.

For a convenient solution, check out Donationtown.org. This free platform offers a searchable database of local charities that might accept mattress donations, along with details about donation pick-up service backup services. Explore Donation Town to find the right charity to donate your mattress.

Another option is to donate directly to a local shelter. Use Google to find contacts for shelters in your area catering to homeless individuals, youth, women, and children. United Way also provides an extensive shelter database. Visit the shelter’s website or give them a call to confirm if they are currently accepting mattress donations.

Give It Away

If you’re unable to locate a suitable local charity or organization to donate your mattress to, there’s always the possibility of directly gifting it to someone in need. Commence by sharing on your social media profiles and inquiring among your network of friends, family, and acquaintances. Unexpectedly, individuals you haven’t previously considered might be seeking a bed or have a purpose or space for an extra one.

Additionally, you can utilize localized social platforms such as Facebook Marketplace, NextDoor, and Freecycle, along with any ListServe mailing lists you’re a part of, to spread the word about your available mattress. Clearly state that it’s completely free while also providing accurate details about its size and condition. This will prevent any misunderstandings or wasting of time for both you and potential recipients. If feasible, include photos and dimensions. Another effective approach could involve distributing flyers to local businesses, schools, coffee shops, community centers, and, where relevant, universities. Once again, ensure you specify the mattress size, condition, and dimensions.

Recycling Your Mattress

If finding an appropriate location to donate your mattress proves challenging, or if your mattress is no longer suitable for sleeping, recycling is the next most responsible course of action. Shockingly, nearly 20 million mattresses find their way into landfills annually, each consuming up to 40 cubic feet of valuable space. This contributes significantly to the expansion of landfills, giving rise to ecological, environmental, and even worker safety concerns on a global scale. Remarkably, approximately 80 to 90 percent of the materials in most mattresses can be recycled or undergo breakdown and subsequent recycling.

In most places, however, there are two general ways to go about recycling your mattress.

Local Recycling Centers

Searching for local recycling centers that accept mattresses can sometimes be a challenge, but don’t worry – options are available. Numerous recycling facilities are open to accepting or taking whole mattresses; some even offer pickup services for a small fee, usually around $40. In certain states like Connecticut, Rhode Island, and California, mattress recycling and pickup are either free or very affordable due to Extended Producer Responsibility Programs (EPRs).

If you’re struggling to find suitable recycling facilities, several helpful databases can assist you in your search:

  • Bye Bye Mattress: Managed by the Mattress Recycling Council, this database focuses on states with EPRs, namely Connecticut, Rhode Island, and California. For those residing in these states, this platform provides resources to help you locate programs that offer minimal-cost or free mattress pickup for recycling.
  • Earth 911: Renowned for hosting one of North America’s most extensive recycling databases, Earth 911 encompasses over 100,000 facility listings across the United States and Canada. This database enables you to search for mattress-accepting facilities in proximity to your zip code. Enhance your search with filters like fee availability and pickup services to narrow down your options. You can also access this comprehensive database through their hotline, 1-800-CLEANUP.
  • Municipal Offices: Numerous municipalities boast local offices for handling waste and recycling. The specific nomenclature for this department may vary across different locations. To identify the department managing trash and recycling in your city or town, conduct a search by entering your zip code. While it’s possible that not all municipalities have a recycling program, many do. You can obtain pertinent information on mattress recycling by contacting your local municipal office.
  • Local Residential Facilities: If your quest for a mattress recycling center persists, consider reaching out to establishments and facilities that regularly accommodate overnight stays. Examples include universities, hotels, and hospitals. Due to their elevated requirement for mattress disposal, these facilities often maintain partnerships with local mattress recycling entities. They may be able to direct you to a nearby recycling center that welcomes mattresses.

Remember, there are various avenues to recycle your mattress responsibly, and these databases and local resources can guide you in the right direction.

DIY Recycling Solutions

In certain situations, you might discover that locating a nearby facility that accepts complete mattresses is a challenge, or perhaps transporting a whole mattress to a non-pickup recycling center is impractical. However, all hope is not lost—there are still viable mattress recycling programs and alternatives available to you!

Deconstruct the mattress and box spring independently to recycle the components.

If you possess the necessary time, space, and tools, dismantling your mattress into recyclable constituents becomes feasible. Some recycling centers, which may not accommodate intact mattresses, could accept these disassembled parts. It’s essential to reach out to local recycling establishments beforehand to confirm their acceptance and proper disposal of these materials, avoiding inconveniences when delivering the recyclables or including them in your regular recycling routine. If your mattress contains springs, you can even explore local scrap metal vendors; many might be willing to compensate you for the metal springs you provide.

Embrace mattress upcycling

For those with a knack for creative DIY endeavors, an intriguing avenue is repurposing the entire mattress or its individual components. This entails breathing new life into the mattress or its constituent materials through diverse applications.

  • Gardening and Outdoor Revival: Numerous segments of a mattress can seamlessly find purpose in gardening pursuits. A wooden box spring, for instance, can be disassembled and repurposed as compost or landscaping mulch. Alternatively, it can retain its integrity and serve as an elevated garden bed, accommodating vegetables, herbs, or blossoms.
  • Household Revamp: The mattress’s foam, fabric, and padding materials can serve as valuable resources for household applications. They could function as cushioning, insulation, or even protective covers for furniture while moving.
  • Artistic Ventures and Interior Accents: The potential for crafting various art pieces and distinct home embellishments from the deconstructed mattress is boundless. From using a recycled steel spring wine rack to creating dog beds with old mattress padding or even crafting a bed-slat bookshelf, mattresses can find new life through your creative skills.

Disposing of Your Mattress

In certain scenarios, donating or recycling your mattress might not be feasible. Whether it’s due to its condition or a lack of nearby recycling options, you could find yourself unable to donate, recycle, or repurpose your mattress, leaving you with the option of discarding it.

However, the process isn’t always as straightforward as placing the mattress by the roadside. Many states, cities, and towns have specific regulations governing mattress disposal, with some prohibiting the direct disposal of entire mattresses in regular trash. In such areas, leaving a mattress on the curb might not lead to its removal on garbage collection day, potentially resulting in fines or penalties.

Waste disposal rules differ significantly. Conduct an online search for guidelines relevant to your state and city. In places where mattress disposal is permitted, it’s crucial to carefully review any additional requirements to avoid fines or potential refusal of pickup. In most locations, you’ll likely need to encase your mattress in plastic or a specially-designed plastic mattress bag first, securing it tightly with packing tape.

Certain municipalities have specific rules and procedures for mattress disposal.

Some areas designate a monthly or bi-weekly “heavy trash day” specifically intended for large items like mattresses. Additionally, waste management departments might have restrictions on discarding multiple bulk items, including several mattresses and box springs, simultaneously.

For those unable to follow curbside disposal, alternative options are available:

  • Engage a Waste Disposal Service: Private waste disposal companies specialize in managing garbage that regular trash services cannot accommodate. Many professional waste removal companies offer mattress removal among their services. Prices can vary significantly, so it’s advisable to obtain quotes and read customer reviews.
  • Coordinate Mattress Removal with Your New Mattress Supplier: Certain mattress retailers include mattress removal as part of their delivery services. While shopping for a new mattress, inquire about this possibility. Some companies might provide mattress removal at no cost as an incentive, while others could charge a modest fee, usually not exceeding $50.00, for taking away your old mattress when delivering the new one.

FAQ’s

Can I leave my old mattress on the curb for pickup?

Yes, many cities offer bulk item pickup services for mattresses. Check your local waste management website for details.

Is mattress recycling really effective?

Absolutely. Mattress recycling facilities can recover a significant amount of materials, reducing landfill waste.

Are all mattress components recyclable?

Most mattress components are recyclable, including metal springs, foam, and fabric. Recycling centers handle the dismantling and recycling process.

Will charities accept any type of mattress?

Not all charities accept mattresses. It’s best to contact them beforehand to confirm their guidelines and requirements.

Are mattress take-back programs free?

Some retailers offer free mattress take-back programs with new purchases. However, it’s essential to inquire about any associated fees.

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