How to Dispose of a Mattress, the Right Way

Person Lifting a Mattress Pad

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If you find yourself with a mattress you no longer need, you’re likely puzzled as to what to do with it. Donating or recycling a mattress is an eco-friendly alternative to dropping it off at the dump, but how does the process work? What about selling it, or donating your mattress to someone in need? Let’s go over a few options for how you can dispose of your used mattress responsibly to make room for your new one.

Mattress Recycling

Because mattresses are relatively bulky, depending on the mattress size, they can be difficult to recycle. But mattresses contain several valuable materials that can increase its recycling market. About 80 percent of materials in a mattress can be recycled. When you throw a mattress in the trash, those materials are wasted.

Mattresses can be awkward and difficult to transport because of their size and weight, so the best way to recycle them is through a company who will haul it away for you. In the U.S., there are several options available depending on which state you live in.

Look for recyclers in your area using the resources available to you, whether that be a phone book or the internet. If you’re buying a new mattress, ask the store you’re purchasing from if they can haul away your old one for recycling. You can also call and ask your local recycling or waste pick-up program or second-hand store and ask similar questions.

In some states, including California, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, the Mattress Recycling Council is supporting mattress recycling programs through a mattress disposal fee. The fee, required by law, is collected on the sale of all new mattresses, box springs, and the like, and the money funds the states’ mattress recycling programs. Recycling your mattress is typically free, but some organizations will charge a nominal fee to pick up and/or process it at their facility. Check with the mattress recyclers in your area to calculate total costs.

Donating a Mattress

Before donating your used mattress, be sure it’s free of major defects. Wear and tear is normal, but donated mattresses that are in very bad shape to begin with will likely end up in the trash anyway. Address issues like stains, rips, holes, tears, mold, or bed bugs before donating.

While, sadly, Goodwill cannot accept used mattresses, some other second-hand stores can. The Salvation Army is one place you can usually donate your used mattress, as long as it still has some life in it. And they’ll even pick it up for you, so you won’t have to leave the house. Habitat for Humanity also accepts gently used mattresses. 

If you’re set on donating your mattress, you can also reach out to homeless shelters and churches in your area to see if donating it to them is an option. Donationtown is a great (free) resource for finding a charitable organization to donate to near you.

Alternatively, you can use an online database, like the one operated by the National Furniture Bank Association, that matches those in need of home furnishings to those who can donate them. The National Furniture Bank Association’s database has locations across North America, which makes it easy for you to find a facility near you where you can drop off your donation.

Selling a Used Mattress

If your mattress is in great shape, you may decide to sell it to offset the cost of purchasing a new mattress. You should only sell a used mattress that is less than 5 years old—anything older will have little value and may be better off recycled.

Before you sell your mattress, look into applicable laws and regulations in action in your state. Some areas may prohibit the resale of mattresses for health reasons. Others require used mattresses be professionally cleaned or disinfected before they are sold. Your local regulations will let you know which steps you need to take next in the resale process.

If your state does allow the sale of used mattresses, determine whether or not there is a used mattress store near you. Used mattress stores will usually have pickup or dropoff processes in place to purchase your mattress with little hassle.

But don’t worry if there aren’t any used mattress stores in your area. Post yours for sale online on sites like Craigslist and Facebook. Set it at a price somewhere around 20-30 percent of the original retail value—or set it at zero if you care more about the mattress getting out of your home than making a profit. You can also add an extra charge for delivering the mattress, or you can ask the buyer to pick it up if you aren’t able to deliver.