Old mattresses can be difficult to dispose of. They're large and unwieldy, and they're made of materials, including synthetic fabrics and padding, which may not be accepted for disposal in landfills. Because of concerns about the cleanliness of mattresses, including the potential for the transmission of diseases and bed bugs, some charitable organizations and thrift stores will not accept donations of used mattresses. However, if you have a mattress or box spring that is clean and in good structural shape, many organizations will happily take it off your hands.

Local Options

Local community and charitable organizations are often in need of clean, undamaged mattresses and box springs for use by their clients. Check with local women's shelters, churches, homeless shelters or disaster-relief organizations to find out if they will accept mattresses. Websites such as Freecycle that are dedicated to reuse of old items may also be able to connect you with someone local who's looking for a used mattress.

Furniture Banks

Furniture banks are non-profit organizations that gather donations of home furnishings which they, in turn, provide to needy families and individuals for free or at a low cost. Furniture banks operate in many communities across the country, but each furniture bank is an independent organization with its own guidelines concerning which items it will accept.

Many furniture banks will accept mattresses and box springs, and many will also pick up mattresses for free. Not all of them will, though, so call your local furniture bank to find out their policies.

Charitable Organizations

If there is no furniture bank in your area, national charitable organizations may be willing to perform a similar service. Some local branches of the Salvation Army and Goodwill, for example, accept donations of mattresses and box springs, provided that the items are clean and free of stains, holes or other damage, and some branches also offer free pick up.

Not all local branches of these organizations accept donated mattresses, however, so check with your local organization before you take your mattress to their thrift store.

Recycling Options

If your mattress is not suitable for donation or if there is no charitable organization in your area that accepts them, there may be a way for you to have your old mattress recycled. Some recycling services will pick up and recycle your mattress and box springs for a fee, and some mattress retailers will do it for free when you purchase a new mattress from them.

Connecticut, Rhode Island and California have recently passed laws that mandate a surcharge on new mattresses that will be used to fund a recycling program for old mattresses. Under these programs, a portion of the cost of a new mattress goes to a non-profit organization that organizes the pick up, transport and recycling of old mattresses.