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What to Do With an Old Mattress: Return, Recycle Or Dispose?

Among the things that are hardest to dispose of responsibly, mattresses come second after electrical products.  After bringing home, a new bed, very few people care where their old mattress will end up. BedTimes estimate that around 20 million mattresses and box springs end up in landfills in America alone.

But if you consider how long you’ve been with your mattress, it becomes a hard choice on whether to just dispose it or give it up for recycling. You should be able to understand different options available so that you can responsibly get rid of the old one.

Keep in mind

  • Costs are involved in the recycling process. This arises if you want to break down the mattress yourself or when transporting it to the recycling site.
  • If you want transport for a huge mattress, that service may not always be available when you need it. Bulk trash pickups takes place at certain times of the year so you should plan to dispose around this time.
  • Manufacturers that offer to take back the mattress will mostly charge to have the bed picked up from your home.

What to do with old mattress?

Before you decide on which option to take, it’s important to inspect the current condition of the bed.

Strip it down from the sheets down to the cover to get a close look at the mattress. If your bed has outlived its lifespan, it’s probably filled with dust mites and the debris it has collected over time.

Prepare the Mattress

As we have said, beds typically collect lots of debris. It’s just right that you clean it up as it gets ready for its next life.

First, vacuum it using an upholstery brush. This will suck most of the dust, skin flakes, and dust mites to freshen it up. Pass the upholstery over the sides and top surface to ensure you get to every inch of the bed.

To give it a fresh scent, sift baking soda over the mattress and add some essential oil to make it feel like new. If it has any stains, use the appropriate cleaner to remove them and get it all clean and ready for reusing or recycling.

Return the old mattress to the manufacturer

It’s alarming the rate of mattresses going to the landfill. That’s why some manufacturers have taken it upon themselves to do the recycling. As you place the order for a new mattress, ask the retailer about returning them to the manufacturer during delivery. You’ll, therefore, have to buy a new bed from a manufacturer that recycles old mattresses.

Give it away

If you do not intend to buy a new bed, you can always give it away. You never know how many people can make do with a free product. If it’s in fair condition, ask your friends, family, and colleagues if they are interested in the bed. This is if it is gently used.

Another simple way of getting rid of an old bed is by offering it for free to sites that accept junk. The Freecycle Network and are organizations that advocate for keeping good things out of the landfill.

Other prominent organizations include Habitat for Humanity and Society of St. Vincent de Paul that continually accept mattresses throughout the year.

When setting up donation arrangements, it’s imperative that you be honest about the condition of the mattress. Take pictures of the bed and send it to the local charity or nonprofit near you.

Everyone needs to sleep in a clean bed so to prevent the risk of spreading of bed bugs to other mattresses; these organizations will have to inspect the bed.

Sell the Mattress

This is a more serious approach since you’ll need to go the extra mile by having the mattress professionally cleaned. Although you may get a few extra bucks, it will cost up to $80 to have it ready for sale. Always ensure it does not have any stain marks or wear and tear signs.

After getting it in excellent condition, get a destination site for it. is an obvious pick, followed by eBay, Facebook, and of course Amazon. Make sure to leave a detailed description of the mattress along with a picture that shows it’s in great condition.

Recycle it

For those that live in areas where donating is not an open option, you can go the recycling way. Despite the fact that mattresses have a construction from completely recyclable materials, many of them end up in landfills. This is because only the recycling sites are willing to take them.

The first step is checking with your city about the recycling programs available. Most companies require that you transport the mattress to the site or you are left to deal with it. Others pick it up for a fee, so expect to cough up to $80 for that service.

Break it Down

When dealing with a spring bed, it is pretty easy to take apart the mattress. Grab the right tools and find a place to lay down the mattress. Here, you want to separate the mattress cover from the foam, wood frame, and springs.

What you’ll need

  • Seam ripper
  • Utility knife
  • Bolt cutter
  • Gloves
  • A pair of pliers
  • Saw
  • Bags to hold the mattress parts

Use a seam ripper to split the thread into the piping end. Then, pull the strands from either side of the mattress.

Now use the sharp knife around the perimeter of the bed to bring out the foam without stabbing into the soft parts. This should reveal white fluffy foam. This is the top layer foam that can make great padding for furniture that needs some filling up. Otherwise, you can roll it up and stash it in a trash can or bag.

The bottom layer usually has a thin layer of fabric. When you lift it up, it reveals the springs. Using a bolt cutter, cut the metal springs before taking them to the recycling center or sell them as scrap metal.

Now to the Box Spring

When the mattress is out of the box, you’ll now have a wooden base. It usually has a dust cover. You’ll see a few plastic pieces at the end stapled to the wood. Use the pliers to remove the staples from the corners.

Then cut the cover and tear it away from the wood box. If any staples are holding the cover to the wood, remove them using pliers. The cover can still be recycled, and as such, you should pull it away from the wood gently.

After exposing the wood frame, now it’s time to rip it apart. Use the handsaw to cut the wood into smaller pieces. If you are into DIY projects, these pieces can be put to good use for your various woodworks.

The smaller shredded pieces can go into gardening projects like compositing. They also make good fire chips for cold fall and winter evenings.

You’ll need some time to break it down, but at least you’ll have saved it from the landfill.

Get Creative with an Old Mattress

Create a Pet Bed

If you are not down to ripping the mattress apart, then resize it and pass it along to your pet. It takes a little effort as it only involves cutting it and covering the cut edges using the leftover wrapper. Now your other best friend can have sweet and peaceful slumber.

After getting all the reusable parts, they are many creative ways in which you can use them.

Make a wine rack

For a personalized touch to your wine rack, craft wood and bed springs together. You’ll create a handmade wine rack which you can use to charm a modern kitchen or dining room.

Install a Custom Trellis

Yes, you heard that one right. If your garden needs a trellis, the spring frame makes an equally good one. You can grow vegetables and fruits on a handy garden accessory that comes cheap.

Craft a Bird Nest

Those bed springs can still make a comfy home for nesters.  It’s easy to make a nest using Audubon-approved nesting material. The springs do not need a lot of work as they are already in a shape that can accommodate little-feathered babies. Just hang it in your backyard and look forward to chirpy mornings.

Make captivating lights for the Walls

Candles and LEDs can quickly go into the coils hence creating a rustic look when hung to the ceiling. They are also great for garden lights to bring out an enchanted look. Don’t worry about the springs rusting when using the coils with LEDs. Rust rarely affects them so you’ll have dependable lighting for a long time.

Use the bed frame as a memo board or rack

If you have an old bed frame that does not have spring coils, it’s an excellent alternative to a memo board or stands. As a board, it will look great with reminder notes and photos.

When repurposing it for a rack, just hang it up such that you can place items such as pans, and utensils in the kitchen or gardening tools in the garage.

Lastly, an old mattress can be redesigned and put up in competitions for rewarding in sites such as discarded dreams. You never know, it might be the launch of a new innovative product.

Bottom Line

There’s an endless list of what to do with an old mattress. Whether you are crafty and creative or just feeling generous, an old bed doesn’t have to be junk for the landfill.