Updated June 3, 2020

Mattress Disposal and Recycling Guide

How to Properly Get Rid of a Mattress
Read more about Mattress Buying Tips

No one wants to deal with a mattress. But you can't toss it out with your regular trash. Learn how to get rid of a mattress responsibly.

Mattresses are big, bulky, and hard to move. So what do you do with your old mattress that's just taking up space? It might be easier to just drag it out to the curb and call it a day.

Someone will pick it up, right?

Not always. Every city has different guidelines. Some let you schedule a curbside pickup for bulky items.

But 20 million mattresses are discarded and landfilled each year in the U.S.

There are other disposal methods to try first. You can use your old mattress to help others, or you can flex your DIY skills. Find out the best ways to get rid of a mattress below.

Here's what you can do with your old mattress:

Stick around to the end for how to keep your next mattress in great shape.

If your mattress is still in good condition, you can donate it to someone who needs it. This is one of the best ways to extend the life of a mattress. Someone else gets a place to sleep, and it uses less energy than recycling. Win-win.

You can donate your mattress if it's gently used. But make sure it's free from:

  • Stains
  • Rips
  • Mold
  • Bed bugs or other pests

What if my mattress has bed bugs?
You can't donate a mattress that's been infested with bed bugs, but you can still get it off your hands. Junk removal services will take your mattress even if it's not in great condition. Find out more about this disposal method later on.

Start by asking friends and family if they need a mattress. If you don't know anyone, try searching for local charities or thrift stores. Check out DonationTown to find homeless shelters, veterans charities, and more that pick up near you.

You can also try national charities. Every location is different, and some don't take mattresses. Give your local branch a call to make sure.

  • Salvation Army: accepts mattresses, box springs, bed frames for pickup or drop off; no fees

  • Furniture Bank Association: accepts mattresses, box springs, bed frames for pickup or drop off; pickup fees range from no fee to upwards of $100, depending on location

  • Habitat for Humanity ReStore: accepts mattresses, box springs, bed frames for pickup or drop off; no fees

  • Goodwill: accepts bed frames for pickup or drop off; no fees

How can I get rid of my mattress for free?
If you can't find a charity that takes mattresses, try sites like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or LetGo. You can post it as free on your local page. There's a good chance the person who wants it will pick it up too.

Repurpose Your Mattress

The average mattress lasts 7 to 10 years. But you can use a mattress long after you're done sleeping on it.

If you're a DIYer, you can repurpose and reuse the mattress yourself. Take the mattress apart and you have a bunch of material for fun and useful projects. The material you don't use can go to recycling.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Pet bed: Cut up enough foam for your four-legged friend to sleep on. If your mattress cover is in one piece, use that to sew a pet bed cover.

  • Seat/bench cushion: Breathe new life into seats or a bench with old mattress foam. Cover the foam with some upholstery, or even old bed sheets.

  • Compost bin: Build a compost bin with wood from your mattress. Bonus points: if your mattress cover is made of natural materials like 100% cotton or wool, you can compost it.

  • Wine rack: You'll be pleased to learn that an upside-down wine bottle slides right into a mattress coil. You can take apart individual coils or mount the entire wire frame for a large wine rack.

  • Packing material: Foam and filling keep your packages safe in transit. You can also use it for fragile items that you keep in storage.

These are just a few ways you can reuse a mattress. Wood, wire, and foam are useful in so many projects. Why buy the materials when you could get them from your old bed?

Even if you're really creative, you might not be able to use every part of the mattress. You can always recycle the materials you don't use. Check out these resources for recycling near you.

Recycle Your Mattress

Mattresses take up 800 million cubic feet in landfills. That's a lot of space. And it can take up to 120 years for just one mattress to decompose.

The good news? Most parts of a mattress can be recycled. Some recyclers even pick it up for you. Before you dump your mattress, try these options first:

Contact Your City
See if your area partners with any local recycling companies. Some companies offer curbside pickups for mattresses. You'll typically pay $20 to $40 to have the mattress taken away and properly recycled.

Free Mattress Recycling
If you live in California, Connecticut, or Rhode Island, you can recycle your mattress and box spring for free. In fact, you can even get an incentive of a few dollars when you drop your mattress off. Visit Bye Bye Mattress to find a recycler near you.

Find a Recycling Company
Search online or use review sites like Yelp to compare your options. Check out Earth911 to search recycling centers in your area.

Use a Store Take-Back Service
Some stores haul away your old mattress at no extra charge when they deliver your new one. Make sure to ask about all your options when shopping for a mattress.

Can you put a mattress out for garbage?
Many cities offer separate trash removal for bulky items like mattresses. Some programs let you schedule pickups. Take a look at 3 ways to properly throw away your mattress.

How Do You Throw Out a Mattress?

If you aren't able to donate, reuse, or recycle your mattress, you can still throw it out. Here are 3 ways to get it off your hands:

Use Your City's Trash Service
A mattress won't fit in your trash can. But many cities provide free pick up for bulky items. Depending on your area, big items could be picked up weekly, quarterly, or by appointment only. Visit your city's waste management page for details.

Rent a Dumpster
If you're deep-cleaning your house, you could consider renting a dumpster to toss everything out. Let the company know ahead of time that you'll be throwing out a mattress. But this solution is pricy. Expect to pay around $200–$400 a week.

Call a Junk Removal Service
Junk removal services like 1-800-GOT-JUNK specialize in taking away stuff you don't want. Prices are around $100 to haul away a mattress.

A disposal service might require you to wrap the mattress in plastic before pickup. Make sure you know the requirements before they arrive. Even if it's not a requirement, it's still good practice to wrap it up for sanitation purposes.

How to Keep Your Mattress in Great Condition

Reduce, reuse, recycle. The most effective way you can manage waste is by reducing the amount you of trash make.

Most mattresses last at least 8 years. Some TLC can make your bed last even longer and keep it out of landfills. Plus, keeping your mattress longer means you'll save money.

Try out these tips to get the most out of your mattress:

  • Put it on a supportive foundation
  • Use a mattress pad or protector
  • Rotate your mattress every 3–4 months
  • Wash your sheets weekly
  • Vacuum your mattress semi-annually
  • Don't jump on the bed

Good upkeep doesn't just keep your bed smelling fresh and clean. It also prevents sweat and body oils from breaking down mattress fibers.

So, you've taken great care of your bed. Never jumped on it once. But what if you're not sleeping as well as when you first got it? Take a look at the next section to see if you need an upgrade.

Is It Time for a New Mattress?

From donations to DIY projects, there are better homes for your old mattress than the landfill. Living sustainably is a worthy goal. But it should work together with an all-around healthy lifestyle.

If your bed is causing you aches and pains, it's okay to consider a new one. Your personal health is important too.

Here are some signs it's time for a change:

  • Your mattress has noticeable dents, lumps, or sags.
  • You wake up with back pain.
  • You toss and turn at night.
  • Your body type has changed.
  • You've started sleeping with a partner.

Does any of that ring a bell? Switching your mattress could be your ticket to better sleep. Check out this mattress guide for a good jumping-off point.

Bottom Line

Getting rid of a mattress can take some effort. Sometimes it feels easier to just throw it out and forget about it.

But there so many resources that can help you responsibly handle your trash. Try to donate, repurpose, or recycle your mattress first. Every step toward sustainability can make a difference. Plus, you might get some fun arts and crafts projects out of it.

If you don't have access to those disposal methods, look up your local trash service. You'll find guidelines on how to properly throw your mattress away.

Write to Kim P at feedback@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

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By Donna Tang - Tips for Mattress
Better sleep is a new mattress away. But which type is best? And how much should it cost? Find out with this mattress buying guide.

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