Whether you've got a brand-spanking new replacement mattress or you’re just thinking about swapping out your old one, you’ve got a dilemma. What do you do with your old mattress? Disposing of a mattress and box springs can be a bit more complicated than simply putting it out on the curb on trash day. Here's what you need to know about how to properly dispose of a mattress and box springs.
Should You Even Get Rid of Your Mattress?
Before you start spinning your wheels, think long and hard about your current mattress and box spring - should you get rid of them? And if your mattress has clearly seen better days, could you still use the box spring?
On average, mattresses last around 7 years before they need to be replaced. And box springs could last a little longer - up to 10 years. If your mattress is starting to show signs of wear and tear, such as lumpiness, sagging, or general discomfort, it's probably time to start shopping for a new one. Box springs show damage in the form of increased noisiness, saggy coils, or a bent-up grid.
However, there are some cases where you might not need to get rid of your mattress quite yet. If you've only had it for a few years and it's still in relatively good condition, you might be able to extend its lifespan by using a mattress topper or protector. Additionally, if you plan on moving soon, it might be easier (and cheaper) to take your mattress and box spring with you rather than dispose of them and get new ones at your new location.
How to Dispose of a Mattress and Box Springs
Once you've decided for sure that you need to dispose of your mattress and box springs, there are a few different options for doing so. In this section, we'll highlight your options so you can make the best possible decision.
1. Recycle Them
Depending on where you live, you might be able to recycle your mattress and box springs. In general, mattresses and box springs are made of a few different types of materials, including wood, steel, cotton, and polyester. All of these materials can be recycled, so if your local recycling center accepts mattresses, it's definitely worth taking advantage of this option. If not, you can always check out a recycling database to see if there's a recycling center near you that does accept mattresses and box springs.
Way too many mattresses (millions) end up in landfills every year, so recycling yours is a way that you can do your part to help the environment. Every mattress counts.
Note: Some recycling centers don't accept mattresses because they're too large, so you might need to cut yours up into smaller pieces and/or separate the mattress’s components before taking it in. Other centers don't take mattresses at all but accept the components of a mattress/box spring (cotton, polyester, etc.) for recycling.
2. Donate Them to a Charity
One of the best options for disposing of a mattress and box spring is to donate it to a local charity or nonprofit organization. Goodwill, The Salvation Army, and Habitat for Humanity are all great options. Some organizations will even come to pick up your mattress and box springs from your home, which makes the process even easier. And the best part about this is that you'll know your old mattress is going to a good cause.
Before you donate your mattress, be sure to do some research to find out what the organization's policies are regarding donations. Some organizations may not accept mattresses that are too old or in poor condition. You don't want to make a donation only to have it turned away.
Here are some common issues that might make a mattress ineligible for donation:
- Water damage/mold or mildew - One common indicator of water damage is a musty or sour smell. Additionally, if the mattress is discolored, has bald spots, or seems unusually heavy, it's likely that it has been affected by water at some point. If you're unsure whether your mattress has water damage, it's best to err on the side of caution and dispose of it. Mold and mildew can cause serious health problems, and you don't want to risk exposing anyone else to those risks.
- Pests - If your mattress is infested with bedbugs, fleas, or other pests, it's unsafe to donate. These pests can quickly spread to other mattresses and furniture, and they can be very difficult to get rid of.
- Physical damage - If your mattress is ripped, smashed, or otherwise damaged, it's probably not going to be accepted by a charity. Most organizations only take mattresses that are in good, usable condition. Minor damage from usual wear and tear may not be an issue, but excessive damage is a no-no.
- Pet hair or dander - Many people are allergic to pet hair or dander, so charities usually won't accept mattresses that harbor either of those things. Cleaning the mattress thoroughly before donation may be a good course of action, but if there's a ton of pet hair or dander, it's probably not worth the effort.
Since charity regulations vary considerably, here are some helpful links for finding out donation policies for some of the most popular organizations:
- Habitat for Humanity: https://www.trianglerestores.org/how-donate-your-old-mattress
- Goodwill: https://goodwillsv.org/mattress-recycling/
- Salvation Army: https://satruck.org/Donate/choose
3. Sell it Online or at a Flea Market
For anyone who has a mattress that's still in good condition but doesn't want to go through the hassle (or expense) of recycling or donating it, selling it is always an option. You can list it for sale on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, or another online marketplace. Or, if you've got a flea market or garage sale coming up, you can include it in that.
Just be sure that the platform in question allows sellers to sell mattresses. And if so, list it as "used" and be honest about wear and tear or any other issues it might have.
And we also recommend being fair in your pricing. A used mattress and box spring isn't going to be worth nearly as much as a new set, so it’s best not to set your asking price in the same ballpark as what you paid. You're likely not going to find many takers at that price.
4. Use a Trash Service
Are none of the above options doable? In some cases, the only way to dispose of a mattress is to put it in the trash. If that's the case, you'll need to find out what the policies are for your local trash service. In some areas, you might need to schedule a special pickup or drop it off at a designated location. In other areas, you might be able to just put it out on the curb on trash day.
Before putting your mattress outside, remove all the bedding, including sheets, blankets, pillows, etc. These can all be recycled or donated. You should also look at the mattress and box spring to see if there are any recyclable materials, such as steel or wood. If so, those can be taken to a recycling center.
Not sure whether you can dispose of your mattress with your regular trash? Take some time and do a Google Search for "[Your City] + dispose of mattress" to browse your area’s specific regulations. If the results aren't clear, give your local waste management office a call for more information.
5. Upcycle It
The trend of upcycling old furniture has been growing in recent years, and mattresses are no exception. If you're feeling creative, you can upcycle your mattress into something else, such as a bean bag chair, a dog bed, or even a planter. The possibilities with an old mattress and box spring are nearly endless.
You can find plenty of inspiration for upcycling projects online on sites like Pinterest. Just be aware that some projects might be more complicated than others. You might also need to invest in some tools or learn woodworking skills before tackling some of the more advanced projects.
6. See if Your New Mattress Company Will Take It
When you buy a new mattress, see if the company you're buying it from offers a removal service for your old one. Some companies will come and pick up your old mattress for you and dispose of it properly. This is usually a free service, but that’s not always the case.
If you're buying a mattress online, you can usually find this information on the company's website. If you're buying in-store, just ask a salesperson. They should be able to tell you if the company offers this service and, if so, how it works.
7. Give the Mattress to a Friend
Do you know someone who's moving or could use a new mattress? If so, see if they want your old one. This is a great way to dispose of a mattress if none of the other options work for you.
We recommend giving the mattress a good deep cleaning before giving it away. No one wants to sleep on a mattress that's covered in dust, dirt, and other allergens.
Now you know exactly what to do with an old mattress. Hopefully, one of the above options is exactly what you were looking for. We wish you the best of luck!
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