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Purchasing a mattress is a difficult decision. You have to ask yourself many questions — such as if you really need one, where to get it, and how to get rid of your old one. This isn’t an easy process, and there are a variety of answers and factors that play into it. From state laws to the environment, mattress disposal is a topic that has to be researched, and thought about before it is done. See the guidance below on how to decide when the time is right for a new mattress as well as how to handle your old one.

Mattress Landfill Crisis

Unfortunately, mattresses are problematic when it comes to disposing of them, as many of them end up in a landfill. Since mattresses are so large, they tend to get stuck in recycling machines, such as trash compactors. When this happens, machines are damaged, and it causes money to be spent on repairs.

Their size also leads to taking up over 130,000 square miles in landfills each year. Because of the size and the difficulty in maintaining the waste, you’ll spend additional fees to drop it off at the landfill. You may feel as though you are “recycling” the item by dropping it off at the landfill, but mattresses only contain a few pieces that can be recycled. Because of that, you should consider additional options when thinking about mattress disposal.

Additionally, some mattresses and pieces, such as memory foam, contain harsh chemicals. When sitting in the landfill, it has no other place to go than to release the chemicals into the air, creating a pollutant and health hazard. While we’re quickly seeing now the chemicals that have been put in our mattresses, previously many were unaware. Now that they are aware, it is important to consider where you put it for eternity.

How Do You Know it's Time for a New Mattress?

If you are having difficulty sleeping, waking up in pain, or have worsening allergies, you may look to your mattress as the culprit.

Poor Sleep Quality

As your mattress gets older, it can wear down and impact the quality of your sleep. A poor mattress leads to poor sleep, which can negatively affect your health. Not only can it cause body pain, it can also aggravate your allergies, create a lack of focus, lead to hunger, and a general bad mood.

The best way to determine why you’re not getting a decent night’s sleep, is to keep a journal of your sleep, including what time you go to sleep, how many times you wake up, or how long it took you to fall asleep. Also note if there was anything specific that was keeping you up such as pain, coughing, or dry mouth. After a few days, go back and check the journal to see if anything stands out to you. Check out some of the reasons below that may be the cause of these ailments.

Aches and Pains

If you wake up in the morning and your back hurts, it’s possible that your mattress is not providing you the support it used to. If the problem is not remedied, it could lead to long-term back issues. You’ll not only wake up with back pain, but also with the residual effects of a lack of sleep. 

Your back is not the only area of your body that is affected by an old mattress. If your mattress is too firm, it can cause pain and damage to your joints as well. The pain and damage is caused by pressure being put on your joints, specifically your shoulders, hips, and knees.

Mattress Wear and Tear

There are times when you can see that your mattress needs to be replaced. The wear and tear of your mattress can be a result of many factors, including quality of your mattress, age of it, and general use. However, if you see broken springs, rips or tears, or holes, it is likely time to replace your mattress.

Additionally, over time your mattress may become deformed. A deformed mattress can prevent you from getting quality sleep due to sagging. If you see that your bed is starting to sag where you sleep, and it is becoming more uncomfortable to sleep there, you should begin looking for a new mattress.

Creatures

The scariest part about creatures in your sleep is that they can be microscopic. It’s the microscopic pests that can be causing your allergies to act up. Dust mites live on or near our bedding (gross, we know!). When we sleep, we shed skin. It’s that shed skin that the dust mites feed off of. To gross you out more, they then excrete allergens through their body parts and fecal matter, which is what is aggravating your allergies.

If you wake up with breathing issues, coughing, or general allergy symptoms, dust mites might be in your mattress. While you can treat them and the area, your mind will scream “new mattress” when learning you have them.

Unsanitary

Think about it, you have slept on this mattress for years. You have sweated, drooled, and perhaps even spilled liquids on that bed. And, you continue to sleep on it.  Well, it is unsanitary. You cannot throw a mattress in the wash, but if you know it has seen many years of fluid stains, you may want to consider starting fresh. The stains located on the mattress can breed mold or spores, depending on the liquid. At some point, it becomes a health hazard, and you should seriously consider a new mattress for your own safety.

Age of Mattress

Besides the many reasons listed above why you should replace your mattress, like any household item, you may have to replace it with age.

Check the Manufacturer's Tag

Depending on the manufacturer, your tag (if you did not remove it) may tell you when it was manufactured. Additionally, it may give you a month and a year that the mattress was approved for sale.

You can also contact the manufacturer listed on the tag. Provide them with the information on the tag, and they may be able to give you an idea of when that specific model was produced. You can also do a general internet search, and likely find the information. While it might not be 100% accurate (based on how long the item was sold for), it may provide you some general information to help you get started.

Visual Inspection

Take a good look at your mattress. Is it stained? Sagging? Ripped? Ask yourself if you would want to sleep on it if it was at someone else’s house.

If you think it looks worn out, it is probably worn out. You should be able to tell if the mattress has aged, and is on its “last legs”.

Places for Mattress Donations

If you do not want to bring your mattress to a landfill, then you can donate it. If you want to donate, there are hundreds of organizations around the country that take donations on behalf of their mission. However, make sure the mattress is in good condition, or it may not be taken.

Charities That Take Mattress Donations

If your mattress is in good shape, you may want to donate, and allow it to benefit someone else. Before bringing the mattress to any location, call and ask what their policies and guidelines are, as they will vary by location and charity.

Donation Town

DonationTown.org is a website that will help you find a charity that will take your donation. Donation Town is helpful because it compiles a list of locations for you, and provides you the contact information, so you can talk to them directly about what they accept. While many places may be limited as to the size, you’ll at least have a list of places you can ask about mattresses.

Furniture Bank Association

The Furniture Bank Association provides a database of locations that will accept furniture and other household items, including mattress donations. Depending on your location, you’ll be matched with a regional organization that will list the items they will take. From there, you can arrange a pickup or drop-off of your item.

Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity is a charitable organization that helps with providing housing and resources for the less fortunate. There are multiple locations throughout the United States, as well as their “Re-Store” locations, which are stores that you can shop at with the proceeds going back into the Habitat for Humanity programs. Each location has different donation guidelines as to what they accept, so it is important to check with your local chapter.

Goodwill

Like Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill also takes donations, which they resell to help with their charitable endeavors and the less fortunate. Similarly, you’ll have to contact each location to determine what they will take.

Vietnam Veterans of America

The Vietnam Veterans of America do pickups of household items. You can take a look on their website for regional contact information, or to schedule a pickup. While mattresses are not listed on the site, they do mention they will take almost anything, so double check with them before scheduling your pickup.

Salvation Army

The Salvation Army, a national charity, will often take mattress donations among other household items.  Because of the size, guidelines will vary by location, so it is important to check with them. The Salvation Army may use the mattress or boxspring, either for shelters, or to re-sell to support their programs.

AMVETS

While it only has locations in Pennsylvania and Florida, AMVETS will not only take mattresses, but will also come and pick them up. AMVETS is a non-profit that assists American veterans with their needs, including household items.

Local Shelters

Contact your local homeless or social service shelters to see if they need mattresses. While housing many people, the need may be there to provide a safe place to sleep for someone.

Free Sites

There are many sites that allow you to post free items such as Facebook groups, Facebook marketplace, Craigslist, or a Freecycle group, which are popular in communities.

Other Options for Mattress Disposal

Various

If you are not specific about where you want it to go, you can check the Bye Bye Mattress database. This database lists all locations that’ll assist with mattress disposal, whether it’s a landfill (though try to stay away from those), or a recycling center. Additionally, it will list locations where large scale events are taking place, such as bulk acceptance locations on a specific date.

Recycle

Recycling Center

Every state has different rules when it comes to recycling and mattress disposal. Depending on your state, there may be recycling centers that would be willing to accept your mattress for a charge. Some states, including Connecticut and California, have programs that will recycle your mattress for little or no cost through a program called Extended Producer Responsibility ( EPR).

D.I.Y. Recycling

Not all parts of a mattress can be recycled. If you are sure you want the accurate parts recycled, you can take it apart yourself. You can remove the wood frame from the box spring, steel springs, and all the foam, and take that to the recycling center. While it’ll take you quite a bit of time to take the mattress apart, it’s a more environmentally-friendly method to dispose of the mattress. In some cases, you may be able to sell the metal coils for scrap.

Repurpose

Once you take that mattress apart, you can use those parts to create new items. If you are crafty, you can use the fabric and memory foams to make new cushions or a dog bed, the wood for garden beds, or the springs for ornaments. Creative minds will find the possibilities endless.

Junk Removal Services

If you’re still unsure what to do, you can try a junk removal service. For a fee, they’ll often come to your home and remove items. If you are looking for a mattress removal place that will be easy, this might be the route for you.

Selling Your Mattress

Locally

Before you consider selling your mattress, it is crucial to know that there are laws in place in many states that determine not only whether you can sell it but if so, what needs to be done before you sell it.

For instance, you cannot sell a mattress in many states if it has visible stains. Since there are such specific rules, it is best to do your research before deciding to sell. Additionally, if all rules play out, remember the cost to ship an item, so determine the radius in which you’ll sell. Furthermore, consider if the purchaser will want the box spring, or just the mattress.

Social Media

Facebook and Craigslist both have the ability to advertise for products. Remember to be descriptive regarding the condition of the mattress, as well as how the item will get to the purchaser. Remember that if you’re meeting someone, make sure you meet them in a public place.

Apps

There are selling apps that will allow you to post and coordinate a sale. LetGo and OfferUp are two of the most popular. They work similar to Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist where you’re posting an ad. Remember, like any sale, make sure you check your state’s selling guidelines for mattresses.

Give it Away

Do you know someone who needsa mattress? Perfect! Give it away to them. Giving it away is a great way to simply be done with the hassle of getting rid of your old mattress, as well as helping someone out.

Out with the Old, in with the New

If you are getting a new mattress, see if the delivery company will take your old mattress with them before you purchase the new. You may have to pay a small fee, but it’s significantly easier on your end.

Putting a Stop to Mattress Donations

There are many places that will not accept mattress donations if they are in certain conditions. Most, in fact, will not accept them if they’re not in good condition. Additionally, it puts extra work on the organization to take in a mattress that cannot be used. From that point, they then have to dispose of it, adding additional costs to a nonprofit. Consider that  — if you don’t want to sleep on it, no one else will either.

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs live in bedding and mattresses, and feed on blood. Not only are they creepy, but they are also a health hazard. Bed bugs bite you to feed on your blood. Some people end up with welts or marks as a result of it. Itching those bites can lead to infection. While you can treat bedbugs, if the infestation gets out of control, you may need to get rid of the mattress. To prevent the infestation from spreading into other items, organizations will not take mattresses that have evidence of bed bugs.

Mold

If there is mold on your mattress, you’ll not be able to donate it. Being exposed to mold can cause serious health issues, especially respiratory. Mold needs a moist place to live — so if that is an issue in your home, it can quickly become a much larger problem. Organizations cannot take the risk of mold spreading not just into their staff, but also onto other items and in their buildings.

Frayed or Coils Breaking Through

If your coils are breaking through your mattress, it becomes unsafe. Broken coils can not only injure you through poking your skin, but you run the risk of infection if there is bacteria on the coils.

Tips for Donating Your Mattresses

Check State Regulations

As we mentioned before, prior to donating your mattress, you must check your state regulations. Each state has different guidelines for donating mattresses for health and safety reasons.

You can check the guidelines online, or call your local health department to see if they know the mattress selling rules in your state. Be aware that if your state allows the sale of mattresses, there is likely a cleaning process you’ll have to complete before the sale. 

Disinfect Mattress Before Donating

Many states will require you to disinfect your mattress before it is donated. Here are some ways in which that can be done

Prepare

To prepare your mattress, start by removing the bedding, and then vacuuming the mattress, especially the top surfaces.

Steam Clean

Using a steam cleaner, work in sections. Go over each section multiple times.

Avoid soaking the mattress because that will create mold. Let it dry in a well-ventilated area.

Antibacterial Cleaner

Dip a rag in the cleaner, and spot clean the entire mattress. After a few hours, wipe off any residue. You can also spray the mattress with antibacterial spray. Make sure you use the proper equipment, and a well-ventilated area to avoid breathing in the fumes.

Attack Any Stains

If you have stains on your bed (the state may not let you sell it, so double check), use a peroxide solution. Mix peroxide and baking soda, and leave on the stain. After a few hours, take a damp cloth, and blot the stain (do not rub). After it dries again, vacuum any residue.

Call in the Experts

If you’re not comfortable cleaning and disinfecting your mattress, you can call professionals. Professional cleaners will come directly to your home to clean, and will also provide you with the paperwork stating it was disinfected, which will be good proof for your state.

Take Away

It’s important to consider not only when it’s time to purchase a new mattress, such as a 100% natural latex mattress from Latex for Less, but the best way to get rid of your old one. There are many options, and while there is nothing that is the “perfect” way, you may find that some work better than others. Whether you want to donate it to one of the many charities listed or recycle it, don’t forget to check your local and state guidelines as to the process needed for mattress removal.

Elizabeth Magill

Elizabeth Magill is a professional freelance writer and editor who holds an MBA. Liz specializes in writing about health news, medical conditions, healthy living, small business, career and work, personal finance, and green-living, including news and trending topics in these specialties. Her clients include Healthline, The Motley Fool, GoBanking Rates, LIVESTRONG.com, Big Interview, HealthNews, Intuit Small Business Blog, Intuit Health, American News Report, Travels.com, IFX Medical, and many others. She’s also a published eBook author and ghost writer for various clients in the health, medical, career, small business, and personal finance niches.