How to Recycle Your Old Mattress

It’s a fact that no mattress lasts forever. You shouldn’t keep sleeping on an old, broken-down mattress just because you don’t want to be wasteful.

It’s equally true, however, that there’s a right and a wrong way to get rid of an old mattress. Instead of leaving it in a dirty alleyway to rot, you should dispose of your old mattress responsibly.

Learn about the steps you’ll need to take to get rid of your old mattress. Plus, find out which mattresses are the most environmentally friendly.

How long should my mattress last?

According to the Sleep Foundation, mattresses last between seven and 10 years. Memory foam and latex mattresses last the longest, and innerspring mattresses have the shortest lifespans.

As a general rule, you should upgrade your existing mattress if you’ve slept on it any longer than eight years. Your mattress might be rated to last slightly longer, but it will already have begun degrading.

How do I know if my mattress is worn out?

There are a few surefire signs that your mattress is on its last legs:

  1. Even the best mattress only lasts 10 years at most. You might not notice its gradual breakdown, but your mattress will be fully worn out after a decade has passed.
  2. If you wake up feeling constantly tired or sore, chances are your mattress is in need of replacement.
  3. Mattresses that sag, leave lasting body impressions, or have lumps need to be replaced.

If you sleep on the same mattress every night, it can be hard to notice the gradual decline of your sleeping environment. Time spares no mattress, however, so keep an eye out for common signs that your mattress needs replacement.

How do I dispose of a mattress?

You’ve determined that you need a new mattress. What do you do with the old one?

There are four main ways you can get rid of your old mattress:

  • Recycle it
  • Donate it
  • Repurpose it
  • Trash it

  • Your main goal should be to keep your mattress out of the landfill. Thankfully, there are a lot of options you can pursue before you’re forced to admit defeat and toss your mattress in a dumpster.

    1. Ask about buyback programs

    If you live in California, Connecticut, or Rhode Island, you might be eligible for a free mattress pickup as part of the Mattress Recycling Council’s state-mandated Bye Bye Mattress program. Contact the Mattress Recycling Council for more information.

    2. Contact a recycling company

    Even if you aren’t eligible for a free mattress buyback, you can still ask a local recycling company to pick up your old mattress. Most communities throughout the United States are home to independent recycling companies that will pick up your old mattress for a fee. This fee ranges anywhere from $50 to $200 per mattress.

    3. Donate your old mattress

    If your mattress hasn’t yet reached its expiration date, you might be able to donate it to a local thrift store or homeless shelter. Keep in mind that your mattress must still be usable to be donated.

    Regardless of the condition of your mattress, you can post it in the “Free” section of your local Craigslist. For your own sake, don’t ask a lot of questions if a stranger becomes interested in picking up your old, used mattress for free.

    4. Repurpose it

    Most people look at old mattresses and see trash. If you have an artistic temperament, however, you might see your old mattress as your newest project.

    There aren’t many mattress upcycling ideas that make use of every single component of your old bed. You’ll at least, however, be able to spare some parts of your mattress from the landfill.

    5. Throw it away

    Consider this option the final solution. You’ve done everything you could to avoid throwing away your old mattress, but nothing worked. Here are your options if your mattress is truly destined for the landfill:

  • Take it to a waste management center: Also known as “the dump,” your local waste management center will be all too happy to take your old mattress. Load it into a truck, SUV, or van, throw it in the pile, and wipe your hands of the whole affair.
  • Rent a dumpster: Your local waste management company will rent you a dumpster for a fee. Toss your old mattress in there, and get rid of some more junk around the house while you’re at it.
  • Hire a junk removal company: You can also hire someone to do all the dirty work for you. A junk removal crew will arrive at your house, take your dumpster, and disappear like trash ninjas.
  • How do you dispose of an old memory foam mattress?

    Memory foam mattresses are a little different from their innerspring counterparts. Every component of a memory foam mattress can be recycled, making recycling companies more incentivized to pick up these unwanted hunks of foam from your house.

    You can also get rid of your memory foam mattress by donating it, offering it for free on the internet, or tossing it in a dumpster. Since memory foam mattresses are so easy to recycle, however, there’s no reason to throw them away.

    Can memory foam mattresses be recycled?

    Absolutely. Memory foam mattresses are made from polyurethane, one of the most abundant and easy-to-recycle plastics.

    From rigid foam to sealants, adhesives, and coatings, used memory foam can be repurposed to form dozens of different useful industrial, commercial, and scientific items. Instead of sending your memory foam mattress to the landfill, give it new life through recycling.

    Is memory foam environmentally friendly?

    That depends on what you do with it. The polyurethane used in memory foam is non-biodegradable, so if you throw it away, it will pollute the environment for decades or even centuries.

    When recycled, however, memory foam is remarkably environmentally friendly. Polyurethane is a profoundly useful plastic, and there’s always demand for new polyurethane items.

    Can I put a mattress in a dumpster?

    Don’t dump your old mattress in a random dumpster in an alleyway. If it’s yours to use, however, there’s nothing stopping you from placing your old mattress in a dumpster.

    You might want to make another choice, however. Someone less fortunate can sleep on your mattress if it hasn't reached the end of its usable life. Even if it has passed its prime, it’s likely that your old mattress can still be recycled.

    What happens when a mattress is recycled?

    The mattress recycling process is fascinating. Over the last decade or so, recyclers have started focusing intensively on mattress recycling to prevent the negative environmental impact disposed mattresses can cause. Here’s how mattress recyclers break down and repurpose your old bed:

    1. Mattresses are transported to recycling facilities in semi trucks
    2. They’re stacked on the floor in front of a conveyor belt
    3. They’re placed onto the conveyor belt one by one
    4. Saws cut away the soft parts of the mattress
    5. For memory foam mattresses, the entire mattress is cut up into chunks
    6. Metal mattress components are removed with magnets
    7. The remaining components are shredded and compressed into bales

    How do I get rid of my old mattress?

    There are lots of ways to get rid of an old mattress. If you want, you can simply pay for someone to take it away and never give the matter another thought.

    You can make a difference, however, by choosing to recycle or donate your old mattress. There’s no reason mattresses should end up in the landfill, so dispose of your old mattress responsibly after you order a brand-new bed.