There are a variety of ways you can dispose of a mattress. The options will vary based on the type of mattress you have, its condition and any issues with it. Here are our recommendations for those who want to know how to dispose of a mattress. We’ll cover everything from proper disposal to do-it-yourself recycling of mattresses.
Ways of How to Dispose of a Mattress
01. Donate It
Mattresses are good for up to seven years. Assuming the mattress is in good shape, you could donate it. You could give it to someone directly. Or you could donate it to a charity that passes it on to their clients. This list includes women’s shelters and homeless shelters.
All charities are desperate for cribs with mattresses. Charities that run thrift stores may be willing to take an old mattress that’s in great shape. In these cases, they sell it to someone in need and the proceeds help the charity. No matter where you donate the mattress, you can get a tax deduction for doing so.
02. Sell It
This requires that the mattress be in good enough shape to be of interest to third parties. It is easier to sell a child’s bed frame and mattress and a crib with a matching mattress than an adult sized mattress. The only major exception to this is adjustable beds.
Many older adults need an adjustable bed as their mobility declines. Adjustable beds are expensive. If you are selling an adjustable bed and compatible mattress, the sheer cost of the new item forces many to buy them used.
03. Recycle the Memory Foam Mattress Yourself
This advice is specifically for memory foam mattresses that are wearing out but otherwise in great shape. For example, we don’t recommend this advice be followed if the mattress has severe stains, infested with insects or has mold. Suppose the mattress is simply worn or not as supportive as you need. If you want to know how to dispose of a mattress, know that there are many do-it-yourself options in this case.
Pure memory foam mattresses can be cut up and reused in a variety of ways. For example, you may be able to pull the top layer off a memory foam mattress and make your own pet bed. The memory foam could be cut to fit the shape of your pet’s existing bed or one you are making. Make sure you put cloth over it, so that your pet doesn’t claw up the foam.
You could cut the old foam mattress to make custom chair cushions. You could also cut up memory foam and use it to make replacement couch cushions. These could be replacement cushions for your living room couch or outdoor bench cushions. You will still need to dispose of the leftover material, but there will be less of it that goes to waste.
Furthermore, you could make cushions for seats that don’t currently have one. For example, you could cut out squares of the foam and place them on top of chests or wood benches. We’d recommend making a cushion cover in these cases, so that you don’t get foam particles on your clothes.
We’d recommend taking the measurements of the seat you want to fit and then cut the mattress to match. The seat cushion should be close in size so that it isn’t awkward to sit on. After all, it can’t shift very much if it fits tightly on the chair.
Alternatively, you could cut out pieces of foam and place them inside existing cushion covers and use them as portable seats. Then you’ll be comfortable sitting on the bleachers at the next game, and that boat seat won’t be so hard. The same cushions could be put down in portable chairs to make them more comfortable. Or you could bring your own seating when you’re visiting a location that typically asks people to sit on the floor.
You might be able to make a DIY trundle bed using your old memory foam mattress. The memory foam could be put on any old portable bed base. You can buy one, too, though that adds to the cost of the project. Because it is a guest bed, it isn’t going to be held to the same standards as a regularly used bed. On the other hand, you could put the old memory foam mattress on top of the existing guest bed or trundle bed, making it that much softer.
If you have a camper, the memory foam could be cut to size to add additional support to an RV bed. This is far cheaper than buying a short queen or short king RV bed. And it is one of the few options for those who need a replacement mattress that fits around various cutouts.
Do not use recycled memory foam mattresses in your child’s crib. Infants need a much firmer bed in order to minimize the risk of crib death or suffocation. Do not use memory foam pieces as pillows for your child’s bed, whether it is raw or wrapped in a cushion cover for the same reason. There is no value in putting a layer of memory foam under the crib mattress, either.
Squares of memory foam are increasingly used as pillow filler. You could take your old memory foam mattress and cut it up to make your own pillow. However, you’ll want the material fully enclosed so that you don’t inhale particles of latex and fiberglass. A safer alternative is using the pieces of memory foam to stuff a bean bag. You already have a container for the memory foam pieces, the bean bag. You will probably make the beans or plastic pieces inside of the bean bag more comfortable.
You could make a back cushion, as well. These cushions may be smaller than a standard chair seat. For example, you might make it narrow enough to fit in the curve of your back. We’d recommend standard memory foam for this application. Gel based memory foam isn’t as good at conforming to the curve of your back. Do-it-yourself lumbar pillows can be put inside a standard pillow case, so no additional sewing is required. You could hold it together with elastic headbands.
Another way to use salvaged memory foam is as a cushion topper. For example, you can create a cushion that fits on top of ottomans and footrests. This allows you to create padding for a rather hard footrest or simply raise its height. Or you could cut the memory foam to size and put it inside of an existing cushion, if the old one is wearing down. In the case of footrests, you could simply put the piece of foam on top of the footrest and wrap it in a sheet.
04. Let the Professionals Recycle It
Mattresses can be recycled. We’ve already addressed a few do-it-yourself options, but these were limited to memory foam mattresses. Professional recycling is the only option for those with a deteriorating coil mattress or foundation. Furthermore, professional recycling is the only option for disposing of the metal core of a hybrid mattress once you’ve stripped off the memory foam layer.
Know that they should not be set out with your standard recyclables. Those sorting facilities can’t handle a mattress.
Instead, you can arrange for the professionals to recycle it. Depending on where you live, you may be able to arrange for mattress recyclers to take the mattress, or you may need to take it to a recycling center that accepts mattresses.
Another option is asking the manufacturer of the mattress about any recycling programs. They may have buy-back or disposal agreements. This information may be available on their website or even on your mattress warranty tag.
Know that the mattress will probably go on to a recycler if you have the old memory foam mattress taken away when the new one is delivered. However, that isn’t the case when you order a bed in a box. That’s one reason why bed in a box manufacturers can sell beds at a lower cost than traditional mattress manufacturers and furniture stores.
The disposal becomes your responsibility. However, they are also able to offer a lower cost because they don’t have to pay for retail storefronts and pay fees to middlemen like furniture stores. Ask local furniture stores if they allow you to bring your own mattress to them for recycling or disposal.
What do the mattress recyclers do with the mattress? Once the mattress is disassembled, the metal can be recycled. Lumber may be repurposed, burned for fuel or simply thrown away. The cloth covers of the bed are almost always discarded.
05. Throw It Out
If the mattress is too old or otherwise doesn’t meet the standards of donation centers and recyclers, the only alternative is to throw it out. You might be able to put it in the trash on bulk trash pickup days. However, not every municipality is willing to take mattresses. And you may not be able to bag and haul the mattress to an approved disposal point.
One option is hiring a mattress removal company. They may work with local furniture stores but be willing to haul
off old mattresses for you for a modest fee. They will be more flexible on date and time than bulk trash pickup days. They’ll take the mattress through the door and down the stairs, making it a great choice for those who couldn’t move a mattress on their own.
Another option is hiring a junk removal company. They may take mattresses, but you can ask them to take a lot of other junk, too. For example, they will take the mattress and mattress frame. They’re an ideal choice for those who need to get rid of a lot of flooded or damaged furniture.
They’ll come to your home at any point during their standard office hours. They are also one of the more expensive options on our list. But they’ll take everything to the dump for you. A side benefit of this approach is that their visit to the local dump won’t count against your limited numbers of free visits to the dump.
If you have a vehicle capable of holding a mattress, you could take a mattress to the dump yourself. However, this requires having the ability to load the mattress into the vehicle, being in driving distance of the dump and being allowed to discard of anything you want there.
Do not burn the mattress in an effort to reduce the amount of weight you have to haul or make it safe for recycling. The fire-retardant in the mattress cover will release toxic fumes. Furthermore, the leftover twisted metal is difficult to transport or recycle.
When You Should Just Throw the Mattress Away
Do you have bed bugs? It is a challenge to get rid of them. Furthermore, no one wants the mattress due to the liability risk. For example, charities will not want to take the risk of spreading bed bugs to their clients or ruining other perfectly good donated mattresses. In this case, you should bag up the mattress in two or three layers and have it taken to the dump, if you can’t take it to the dumpster.
If the mattress has been flooded, it is best to throw it in the trash. In many areas, you have to seal the mattress or box spring in a large plastic bag. This rule is intended to limit the spread of bed bugs, since you’ll have to carry the mattress through hallways and it may come into contact with other items where bed bugs could live.
In general, you can use any bag or mattress cover. Many cities will not allow you to use red or orange bags on such mattresses, because that is associated with hazardous waste.
Recyclers will not take a mattress that has mold or spoiled. For example, if it has blood stains or other biological stains, they may refuse to recycle it due to the health risk to their workers. This means the toddler bed your child peed on every night for months can only be thrown in the trash or hauled off by a junk removal company.
What Can You Do With a Memory Foam Mattress Topper?
Memory foam mattress toppers are actually far easier to work with than a full mattress. They’re thinner and more flexible, so there’s no work for you to do other than cut it up and use according to one of our DIY recycling projects. You could use the memory foam mattress topper as it is as a pad under sleeping bags or air beds.
Mattress toppers are often flexible enough that you can simply bag it in a large trash bag and leave it at the curb.
Mattresses are one of the bulkiest items that we regularly use up. They may be recycled in the right situation, but they may be discarded, as well. Understand your options so that you can chose the right solution for your situation.