Your Guide to Responsibly Getting Rid of an Old Mattress

Woman moves old mattress

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When your mattress is sunk into your shape, it’s time to upgrade. According to the Sleep Foundation, most conventional mattresses only last seven to ten years before they soften and sag, resulting in sleepless nights and sore joints. Once you have bought a new mattress, it is a good idea to think about how to get rid of the old one. While donation through some charities is an option, many do not accept the essence of the bedroom for a variety of reasons – state laws regulating mattress reuse are just one reason this process can be complicated.

If you can’t find a place to donate, properly disposing of an old mattress is the way to go, but it does take some planning: Disposing of a mattress with your normal household waste is not the best option as landfills take up a lot of space, Chemicals can be released into surrounding land and water supplies and take years to degrade. So how can you safely and responsibly remove your old mattress?

Related: The Best Mattress Toppers for Better Sleep

Call local chapters of your favorite charities.

Donating a mattress may sound like an easy way to do good for your community and the environment, but state laws that govern cleaning and repackaging make it difficult for most recycling organizations to accept. Each local outpost of organizations such as Goodwill, the Salvation Army, or Habitat for Humanity has different guidelines for accepting mattresses. most don’t because they can’t provide the space to store them or the resources to clean them properly. (One exception: in California and Oregon, St. Vincent de Paul works with the Mattress Recycling Council and operates mattress collection points that recycle more than 300,000 mattresses and box spring beds annually.)

If you’re trying to pass on a new mattress, you can check with your local furniture bench or homeless shelter to see if they can accept it, but be realistic about the comfort and quality of your old bed. “If your mattress isn’t giving you a good night’s sleep,” says Amanda Wall of the Mattress Recycling Council, “it’s likely not in good shape to others.”

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Find a recycling point.

Recycling is the most effective way to dispose of your mattress responsibly: Most of the material – according to Wall 75 percent or more – is recyclable. “Steel, foam, fiber and wood can be used in hundreds of new products such as structural steel, carpet upholstery, insulation, soundproofing, mulch or biomass fuel,” she says. The Mattress Recycling Council operates commercial and residential mattress collection sites in California, Rhode Island, and Connecticut (the consumer arm of the program is Bye Bye Mattress). Since 2015, the nonprofit has recycled more than eight million mattresses and diverted more than 300 million pounds of material from landfills.

Outsource the collection.

Many garbage disposal services will take your old mattress with them for a fee; JunkLuggers, LoadUp, and 1-800-Got-Junk all claim their policies are to donate or recycle mattresses at local facilities rather than throwing them in landfills. “Outside of our program states, we’ve seen local governments like a city or county find a way to recycle mattresses, or a local company or nonprofit that recycles other products expand into mattress recycling,” Wall says. “Mattresses also get into our recycling program via the municipal administration’s collection program for bulky items – check with your public building authority, sanitary department or garbage disposal.” If you replace an old mattress – and not just dispose of an additional one – then the company takes it from whom you buy, often the old one; Look for a mattress supplier with an emphasis on sustainability and a policy of recycling used mattresses – like Saatva – to ensure your bed doesn’t end up in a landfill.

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