Ever wonder where to dispose of your old mattress? Old worn mattresses are commonly discarded, but you have more options than just kicking them to the curb when you buy a new mattress.
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According to the Mattress Recycling Council, almost 50,000 of them end up in landfills in the United States every day. That is an astounding number when you think about it! These discarded mattresses require miles and miles of landfill space. But it shouldn’t come to that.
Even after you have made full use of your mattress, you don’t need to discard it. Many of its components can be recycled or repurposed. If the mattress is unstained and in reasonable condition, you might be able to donate it. Be aware, because of potential biohazards. Some charities will only take new, unused donations. But, many will still accept, clean, gently used mattresses. Passing it on to someone in need is a great alternative dumping it in a landfill.
If your mattress is clean and in like-new condition, you might even be able to sell it. That said, expect to get only a fraction of what you paid regardless of the quality. Most people will justifiably be reluctant to pay big money for a used mattress.
Mattress recycling is not a new concept and has been around for a while now. There are dozens of facilities that provide this service, and they are not very difficult to find either. All it takes is an internet connection and your zip code. Within minutes, you can easily locate one close to your geographical location.
Earth 911 or ByeByeMattress are two such resources that can be of tremendous help. They make it easy for you to find local centers that will accept your used mattress. These services usually charge between $15-$20 (per mattress) for drop-offs. Additional fees apply for transport to a recycling facility. Some centers allow you to drop off your used mattresses at no charge on specific dates — search listings for local events in your area.
A lot of these centers will have their criteria for picking up/dropping the mattress. But be aware, donations will not be accepted if the mattress is unsanitary. Bed-bug infested, stained, soggy or in a deplorable condition will be refused. If the mattresses are contaminated, they pose a health hazard and are not fit for recycling. Torn or broken mattresses are usually accepted for recycling; as long as they are clean. Some state laws require retailers to collect recycling fees for each mattress and foundation sold.
Take It Apart, Reuse
There are many components to a mattress that can be recycled. Parts including the upholstery, foam, wooden parts (if any), metal parts, springs (if any), natural fibers and box spring.
Almost all mattresses contain foam these days, and this polyurethane foam can be repurposed into many household items. We’ll take a look at the uses of the foam in a later section of this article.
An average mattress contains a fair amount of steel (up to 20 pounds or about 9 kgs. This number could go up in case of more expensive mattresses). The steel is in the form of springs, and that can be easily removed, collected and sold as scrap at a scrapyard or a metal recycling outlet. Scrap rates will vary depending upon the area of your residence.
Mattress fibers are mostly made of cotton, wool, polyester, rayon, or even silk. These recycled materials can have many uses — such as filters, insulation or padding.
Decorations on the mattress such as buttons or braids can be stripped off the mattress. They can be carefully cut out and used in any other do-it-yourself projects. We’ll discuss later in the article.
The wood in these discarded mattresses can be used as tinder or firewood. It can also be used in gardening, as lawn mulch (for soil amendment) after it has been shredded.
You can check out this very educational video about how to go about taking a mattress apart and put it to good use. You would naturally need to exercise caution while you are doing this and always wear safety gloves and eyewear. Metal and other parts in the mattress may cause you injury.
Donate the Mattress
Donations are often accepted if the mattress is still in good condition. You will be surprised how many organizations will take your mattresses if they are free of tears, burns, or other such damage. Some of them are:
Furniture Bank Association of America
Founded in 1998, the Furniture Bank is a social enterprise and a registered social charity. It provides furnishings to the needy provided through donations. Some recipients of these donations include refugees from war-torn countries or women and children dislocated from their homes. This can also bring a great benefit to people transitioning out of homelessness. These furnishings are provided to them at little or no cost. The Furniture Bank has a number of centers strewn across the United States and accepts a number of gently used household items including mattresses. After calling this company, many pickups can be scheduled as early as the next day! Just remember that they do not accept mattresses with too much wear and tear because they treat the people they are donating the mattresses to with respect and dignity.
Spread across over 131 countries, the Salvation Army has been helping families in need since 1865. This charity organization now offers pick up services for people who want to donate but are unable to bring items to one of their locations. The mattresses you want to dispose of must be in good condition and without burns, tears, or other damage. You can locate the nearest pick up point from this page, and find centers closest to you.
Established in 2008, Donation town calls themselves the internet’s best resource to donate household goods for charity. This website supports many great charities and donations are tax-deductible. They believe that landfills do not need any more old mattresses and donating yours is an ecologically responsible choice. You can visit their website and check if a charity will come and pick up your old mattress.
Habitat for Humanity International
This organization claims that they make the donation process as easy as possible. HFHI accepts gently used household goods and furnishings which includes mattresses. All you need to do is contact their nearest ReStore facility and let them know the items you have available for donation. They’ll determine the best method for you to be able to make your donation.
Instead of thinking about how to dispose of old mattresses, you can disassemble them and use them in many creative ways. Because, as we discussed above, the old mattress still has some tricks up its sleeve and can be used in many ways:
- Pet Bed: If you have pets, you can make a bed for your cat or dog by cutting off an appropriate piece and sewing on some fabric around it. If you have aged pets, they will really appreciate it. Also, memory foam works best for this purpose.
- In Bean Bags: If you have a bean bag that needs an uplift, what better way to use your mattress foam? You can replace some or all of the filling inside it or even supplement it. All you will have to do is cut the mattress into 2-inch long pieces.
- Make a Mobile/Trundle Bed: If you have a bed base, you can make a makeshift bed that can be used for guests/visitors. You can fit wheels under this base or buy one with wheels so that it is easy to move around the house.
- Lumbar Support: Cut the foam into a pillow-size shape to use it as lumbar support for your lower back. You can stick this piece of foam into a standard pillowcase to make it look better.
- Padding: This can be used anywhere you like. On camping trips (to keep under your sleeping bag), or tie it or stick it on accident-prone areas around your house (table, chair, desk corners).
- Wine Bottle Holder: The metal springs from the mattress can be used to create wine bottle holders. Here is an excellent DIY solution you can look up if you are interested. You can use the springs in many creative ways. Pinterest has virtually thousands of such projects on display, such as a spring vase, a candle holder, a mini plant holder, a photo display, birds nests, jewelry organizers, and many more.
- Children’s Project: If you can get your mattress professionally cleaned, you can turn it into a children’s project, be it a jungle gym or a substitute for a trampoline, as long as you are feeling creative.
- Floor Seatings: Commonly seen in Asian countries, floor seating is considered one of the simplest ways to lounge. You can use the foam from the mattress to cut out the desired length and breadth of a seating cushion and even armrests. You can dress up this exotic seating arrangement with some nice seat covers to give it an authentic look.
So, as you can see, mattress disposal is not really as expensive or stressful as you probably made it out to be. If you are a DIY person, there are tons of things that can be achieved using an old mattress. If you are not, there are services and organizations that will be happy to take it off your hands. You will not have to ponder upon where to dispose of the old mattress. So consider all your options before you decide what you are going to do with your old mattress.
And when it’s time to shop for a new bed be sure to check out our mattress reviews.