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How to Dispose of a Mattress

How to dispose of a mattress


A Simple Mattress Disposal Guide

If you're wondering how to get rid of that old mattress, you've come to the right place. Proper mattress disposal is important for the environment, and there are wrong ways and right ways to dispose of a mattress.

Even if you could fit your mattress in your trash bin, it wouldn't be the most environmentally friendly way to dispose of your mattress. In fact, 80% of the materials in a mattress are recyclable, but Americans toss 15 to 20 million mattresses into a landfill every year.

From recycling to donating, there are many other ways to dispose of that old mattress to make room for a new one.

Can I Throw Away a Mattress?

In some states, you can throw a mattress away with your household trash, but most places require special handling for mattresses. Although you may see mattresses on the curb often, mattresses are not allowed to simply be placed on the curb in most states.

Mattresses are bulky, taking up to 40 cubic feet of precious landfill space. With US landfills filling up at a rate of 100 million tons per year, it’s more important than ever to avoid dumping mattresses. 

According to Nationwide Mattress Recycling, there are over 25 million mattress and box spring sets sold in the United States each year, and many of those will end up in landfills. Fortunately, there are other mattress disposal options.

Before you decide on how you will get rid of your mattress, make sure to first examine the condition of your mattress.

When to Replace Your Mattress

How do you know when it’s time to replace your mattress? Here are some of the top signs that you need a new bed:

  • You wake up feeling tired and sore.

  • You can feel the springs poking through.

  • Your mattress is noisy when you move.

  • You can’t get comfortable on your mattress.

  • Your mattress looks more like a hammock than a bed.

  • Your allergies get worse at night.

Most mattresses last 7 to 10 years, but not all mattresses are equal. Here are the common lifespans of different types of mattresses:

Lifespans of Different Mattresses

Mattress TypeAverage Life Expectancy
Innerspring6 to 8 years
Memory foam10 years
Latex15 years
Hybrid8 to 10 years
Adjustable10 to 15 years

Responsible Mattress Disposal Options

Instead of throwing your old bed away, consider one of these responsible mattress disposal options.

Box springs separated for mattress recycling

Free Mattress Recycling Programs

The materials in a mattress can be easily recycled. Mattress recycling is a growing industry that’s worth supporting. Some states even have free mattress recycling programs, such as California, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Programs such as ByeByeMattress allow households to drop off old mattresses and box springs at collection centers for free.

You can also find other mattress recycling centers by using Earth911, which has a directory of over 100 mattress recycling centers across the country.

Some cities also offer recycling centers where you can bring all types of items, including mattresses. They may also offer bulky item pickup services.

DIY Mattress Recycling

If you aren't able to find a mattress recycling center that accepts whole mattresses near you, don't fret. There are ways you can break down your mattress for recycling.

  1. Break down the mattress and box spring yourself

    If you have the space, time, and tools to break down your mattress, you can separate the mattress's recyclable parts. These parts may be accepted by recycling facilities, such as fabric recycling centers and scrap metal recycling centers.

  2. Upcycle your mattress

    If you are into DIY projects, consider upcycling your old mattress. A wooden box spring can be used as a composting box or raised garden bed, for example.

Donating a Used Mattress

Donating your mattress is a great disposal option if it is still in good, usable condition. Charities, thrift stores, and shelters are some places that may take your donated mattress. To make sure your mattress is in good condition for donation, look out for:

  1. Infestations: Any mattresses with bed bugs, mold, or other life forms should never be donated, as the problem is typically deeply rooted in the mattress.

  2. Major Structural Problems: If your mattress is sagging, broken, or bending in any way, it is not suitable for donation.

  3. Rips, Tears, and Holes: A mattress with rips, tears, or holes should not be considered suitable for donation. This includes large gashes but also small holes like animal damage or cigarette burns.

  4. Stains: Mattresses with large or small stains should not be donated. If you are able to completely remove the stain from the mattress, it may still be donatable.

  5. Odors: Strong-smelling mattresses should absolutely not be donated. If the smell cannot be removed with baking soda, consider the mattress unsuitable for donation.

If your mattress is free of all of these problems, it should be okay for donation! Make sure to call before you bring your mattress to any of the mentioned locations to make sure they will accept your donation. Some of them may even pick the mattress up for you.

Some good resources to find a location for your mattress donation are Donation Town and United Way. You can also rely on national organizations like Goodwill or Habitat for Humanity to accept your mattress donation.

selling mattress online

Sell or Give It Away

If your mattress is in really good condition, you can even consider selling your mattress on an online marketplace such as Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist. Additionally, you may give your mattress away for free on these same sites.

You can also place your mattress curbside for others to pick up. Simply wrap the mattress in a plastic cover, and place it on the curb with a free sign. Always make sure this is allowed by your local homeowner's association or city.

Mattress Pickup Services

There are several types of mattress pick-up services available, including:

  1. Mattress retailers

    Many retailers will pick up your old mattress when they deliver your new one. In some states like California, it's even required by law.

  2. Municipality waste services

    Your city may offer bulk waste pick-ups, which include mattresses. Reach out to your city and schedule a pick-up over the phone or online.

  3. Junk removal companies

    Many junk removal services would be happy to remove your old mattresses, however, they do charge by weight or truckload. Make sure you have the budget ready for the service.

hauling old mattress in pick up truck

Throw It Away

Your last resort for your mattress is tossing it out for landfill disposal. There are several ways you can dispose of your mattress this way, including:

  1. Hauling it to the landfill yourself

    If you have a truck or van, hauling the mattress to the landfill yourself may not be a bad idea if all the other disposal options fall through. If this is the case, make sure to look into regulations regarding mattress disposal at your local landfill and follow them. Also, make sure to call ahead of dropping off the old mattress to make sure they accept mattresses on that day.

  2. Use a waste disposal service

    Many waste services will provide mattress hauling as a service they offer. Do some research into the best waste disposal companies in your area to find one to remove your mattress from your property.

  3. Renting a dumpster

    In some states, mattresses are allowed in dumpsters for disposal. This is a somewhat rare scenario, but if this is the case in your state, make sure to follow all of the guidelines the dumpster rental company provides you before placing your old mattress in your dumpster.

Getting Rid of A Lot Of Furniture and Household Waste?

If you are getting rid of multiple large and bulky items, a dumpster rental for household items is exactly what you need. Before booking a dumpster, make sure the items you wish to discard are allowed in a dumpster in your state.

Schedule a Service

Tips For Mattress Disposal

If you live in an area with strict policies about mattress disposal, you may be required to prepare your mattress before throwing it away. Use these mattress disposal tips and techniques to prepare your mattress for disposal.

Cleaning and sanitizing

Before donating or selling your old mattress, clean and sanitize it. This not only helps prevent the spread of germs but it also improves the condition, making your mattress more desirable to thrift stores and charities. 

Disassembling a mattress 

In some municipalities, landfills charge a fee to break your mattress, and you can save money by doing it yourself. Disassembling a mattress starts with cutting and removing the fabric. Then, use clippers heavy-duty wire clippers to remove the springs. Finally, take the wood apart by sawing it into small pieces. 

Wrapping and sealing

In some places, you may be required to wrap your mattress in plastic or use a plastic mattress disposal bag. This practice helps keep pests like fleas and bedbugs from spreading.

Regulations and Guidelines for Mattress Disposal

Since guidelines and regulations for mattress disposal vary from state to state and city to city, you need to find out what the regulations are in your area before throwing it away. Otherwise, you could be fined if you dispose of your mattress improperly.

In many areas, mattresses are treated differently than other bulky waste. This is because they often contain flammable materials, making them a potential fire hazard if not disposed of correctly. Local waste management companies provide specific instructions for mattress disposal, so be sure to check with them about regulations.

How to Extend the Lifespan of Your Mattress

To minimize mattress waste, follow these care tips and maintenance practices to ensure your mattress lasts as long as possible:

  • Rotate your mattress

  • Vacuum every few months

  • Use a protective pad

  • Clean spills with upholstery shampoo

  • Strip your bed when you go on vacation

You should also avoid eating, drinking, or smoking in bed to keep your mattress in tip-top shape.

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