A mattress isn't one of those things that gets better with age. Between lumps, bumps, stains, and even bedbugs, there are plenty of reasons that might drive you to ditch your old mattress and upgrade to a supportive new mattress that'll give you a good night's sleep. Ideally, you should replace your mattress at least once a decade, so you'll have to figure out how to dispose of mattresses several times over the course of your life.
Buying a new mattress from a retailer often includes mattress removal service when the new one is delivered, but what about when you're buying a new mattress online or if you aren't replacing the old one? There are multiple options for how to dispose of a mattress on your own. Recycling or donating might be possible, and the landfill is a last resort. If you're getting rid of box springs too, they can generally be disposed of in the same way as a mattress.
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Your specific options for how to dispose of a mattress depend on its overall condition and the state in which you live — mattress disposal is regulated by law in some places. Though the process can be a bit of a hassle and may even involve a small fee, getting rid of a mattress is ultimately a fairly simple task.
Signs You Should Replace Your Mattress
The ideal maximum life span of your mattress depends somewhat on its type and how much wear and tear it receives. Most last from seven to 10 years, but yours might need to be replaced sooner.
If you're still on the fence, here are some signs that it's time to get rid of your mattress and invest in a new one:
- It's uneven or it sags or dips in spots from years of use.
- The mattress has visible rips, tears, or stains or persistent odors.
- You wake up feeling more tired or achy than you used to feel in the morning.
- You have allergy symptoms that seem to get worse when you're in and around your bed.
- You sleep better when you visit a hotel or someone else's home compared to sleeping on your own mattress.
Recycle Your Old Mattress
Mattress recycling is a bit of a complicated topic. Most of the components in a typical mattress can be recycled. However, it's a lot of work to dismantle all the different components so that they can be recycled separately. Not all recycling centers have the space and resources to manage bulky mattresses, and the components that can be salvaged from mattresses aren't highly valuable, so it's a lot of effort with minimal reward for recyclers to dispose of them.
That said, many municipalities and organizations, like the Mattress Recycling Council (MRC), are driving efforts to keep more mattresses out of landfills. This means mattress recycling is becoming more common throughout the United States and might be an option for you.
Did You Know?
According to the MRC, more than 50,000 mattresses are discarded in the U.S. every day!
What Are Mattresses Recycled For?
Several parts of a mattress can be repurposed into new materials.
- The quilted mattress topping, memory foam, and other types of foam may be shredded and reused to make carpet padding. Textiles may also be recycled as insulation.
- The metal used to make mattress coils can be sold as scrap metal.
- Certain mattresses use pocketed coils encased in polypropylene, which can be recovered and turned into new plastics.
- Box springs are also made of fabric and metal that may be recycled, and they contain wooden pieces that can be turned into mulch or used in other applications.
There's a lot of variation in mattress design these days, and some types have a higher concentration of recyclable materials than others. For example, memory foam mattresses made entirely from foam don't include coils or other metal components.
State Laws About Mattress Disposal
A handful of states have passed stewardship laws to make it easier for residents to recycle mattresses. Connecticut, California, and Rhode Island run mattress recycling programs in partnership with the MRC. They are funded by fees that are collected when new mattresses are bought in those states. Massachusetts also enacted a mattress disposal ban in 2022, making it illegal to throw away mattresses with other trash. They must be recycled.
Finding Local Recycling Options
If you live in a state with mattress disposal laws, your state's website should have information about drop-off locations that take mattresses for recycling. If you don't live in a state that has ordinances about mattress recycling, it doesn't hurt to check whether any local recycling facilities take mattresses. There may be a small fee.
Donate Your Mattress
It's not as easy to donate mattresses as it is to donate other household items, for obvious reasons. Used mattresses are unhygienic and may be contaminated by bedbugs or allergens, so thrift stores and organizations like Goodwill and The Salvation Army generally won't accept them even in good condition. Habitat for Humanity, which accepts many types of household items and furniture as donations, also won't take mattress donations.
If your old mattress is in good shape (with no saggy spots, rips, stains, cigarette smoke odors, or other damage), you may be able to find local charities that can reuse it. Look for nonprofits that work with refugees, people experiencing homelessness, domestic violence survivors, and other community members transitioning into new housing. Alternatively, pass your mattress directly to someone who's in the market for a free one through Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or Freecycle.
Before donating it, clean and deodorize a mattress using a vacuum, baking soda, and a mild cleaning solution.
Throw Away Your Old Mattress
Mattresses that can't be recycled or donated are thrown away and sent to the landfill. Every municipal waste management program has different rules around picking up and landfilling mattresses, so there are several ways you might be able to get rid of yours.
- Check whether your waste disposal service collects mattresses with other curbside trash on your regular trash day. This isn't an option everywhere, but it is allowed in some places. For example, New York City residents can leave out old mattresses, box springs, and futons with their other trash as long as these items are sealed in mattress bags that aren't orange or red.
- Schedule bulk item pick-up services. Your local waste disposal program might be able to pick up bulky household items left curbside, including mattresses, when you place your request a few days in advance. This service may or may not include a fee.
- Transport the mattress to the landfill yourself. Check your town or city's waste management website to find information about drop-off sites for bulky trash. A fee may be involved.
- Hire junk removal services. If you're willing to pay more for fast and easy mattress disposal, hire a junk remover to come take it away.
Are you getting rid of your old mattress because it's broken or defective? Check the warranty before ditching it. A lot of popular mattress brands have 10- year or even 25-year warranties, so you could be entitled to a replacement if something goes wrong.