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What To Do With an Old Mattress

Are you wondering what to do with that old mattress that’s been gathering dust in your storage area or simply taking up space in your home?

Then this guide is for you. Here, I’ll share useful tips and detailed guidance on how to handle old mattresses, in a way that’s not just practical, but also environmentally friendly.

TL;DR: The disposal of an old mattress can be a complex task due to its size, bulkiness, and environmental impacts. Therefore, it’s recommended to consider repurposing, recycling, or donating it. Some businesses even have buyback programs or can pick it up for disposal. If all else fails, check your local waste regulations.

Understanding The Environmental Impact

Before diving into how to dispose of your old mattress, it’s worthwhile to understand its environmental impact. Mattresses take up a lot of space in landfills – as much as 23 cubic feet each.

Moreover, the non-biodegradable components can take decades, even centuries, to decompose. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that an estimated 20 million mattresses end up in landfills every year in the United States alone.

What’s worse, some mattresses release harmful chemicals as they break down, contributing to soil and water pollution. Studies have even found that the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released by some mattresses can contribute to a host of health issues, including respiratory problems, allergies, and even cancer.

Given these concerning environmental effects, it’s clear that just tossing your old mattress in the dumpster isn’t the best approach.

And if a mattress is dumped in landfill, the table below indicates the time between all those materials degrade. Its shocking!

Material Approximate Time to Decompose
Polyurethane Foam 1,000+ years
Latex Foam 50-100 years
Memory Foam 1,000+ years
Steel Coils 100-200 years
Wood Frames 10-15 years
Cotton Filling 1-5 months
Polyester Fabric 20-200 years

Repurposing Your Mattress

Before sending off your old mattress for recycling or disposal, it’s always worthwhile to consider whether it might be repurposed or upcycled.

The benefit here is twofold; not only do you keep bulky waste out of landfills, but you also get to flex your creativity and perhaps even create something truly unique for your home. Here are some novel ways you might repurpose or upcycle your old mattress.

  • Pet Beds – For pet owners, turning an old mattress into a pet bed can be a cost-effective and sustainable alternative to buying a new one. You can cut a section of the foam to the appropriate size, cover it with a durable and washable fabric, and you have a comfortable and supportive bed for your furry friend.
  • Garden Compost – If your mattress has natural components like cotton or wool, these can be composted and used to nourish your garden. Remember that synthetic materials, metal springs, and treated wood won’t compost, so be sure to separate these out.
  • Furniture Upholstery – The padding or foam from a mattress can be used to upholster furniture. This can be an excellent option if you have a piece of furniture that needs some extra comfort.
  • DIY Corkboard – The wooden frames found in some mattresses can be upcycled into a DIY corkboard. Just remove the fabric and padding, add a piece of cork or a similar material, and finish off with a coat of paint or stain for a personalized touch.
  • Art and Craft Projects – Mattress springs can be painted and used as decor, while foam and fabric can be used for various craft projects. Be imaginative and see what you can come up with!
  • Outdoor Seating – An old mattress can be transformed into outdoor seating or a daybed. This will require a bit more work and craft, as you’ll need to create a waterproof cover and perhaps build a frame. But the end result can be quite stylish and functional.

Recycling Your Mattress

For mattresses beyond repurposing, recycling is an excellent alternative. Approximately 80-90% of a mattress’ components can be recycled. A few companies and organizations exist that specialize in mattress recycling, so I recommend doing a quick online search for local options.

Mattress Component Can be Recycled? Uses in New Mattresses or Other Products
Steel Coils Yes Re-melted and reformed into new steel products, including springs for new mattresses
Foam (Polyurethane, Latex, Memory Foam) Yes, but depends on recycling facilities Shredded and used in carpet underlay, padding for seats and cushions, or even new mattresses
Wood Frames Yes Chipped and used in landscaping, mulch, or biomass fuel. Sometimes refurbished for use in new mattress frames
Cotton Filling Yes Cleaned and used in textile applications, potentially even in new mattress padding
Polyester Fabric Yes Melted down and extruded to create new polyester fibers, potentially used in new mattress covers

Donating Your Mattress

Donating your old mattress is another great way to extend its life while helping others. Many non-profit organizations accept gently used mattresses for redistribution to those in need. However, remember to ensure your mattress is clean and in a decent condition before donation.

Here are a few options:

  1. The Salvation Army: This organization often accepts mattress donations and even offers pick-up services in certain locations, more info can be found here.
  2. Habitat for Humanity: Habitat for Humanity operates ReStores which sell gently-used home improvement goods, including mattresses.
  3. Goodwill: Some Goodwill locations accept mattress donations, but policies can vary, so it’s best to check with your local store and the requirements.
  4. Furniture Bank Association of America: The FBA has locations across the country that accept mattresses in good condition.
  5. St. Vincent de Paul: Many of this charity’s thrift stores accept mattresses for resale.
  6. Local Shelters and Non-Profits: Local homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters, and other non-profit housing organizations often accept mattress donations.

Note: Check the local charities in your area to see who’s accepting mattress donations near you.

Mattress Buyback Programs and Pick Up Services

Some mattress companies have buyback programs where they take your old mattress for recycling or disposal when you purchase a new one. Additionally, various businesses specialize in picking up and responsibly disposing of old mattresses. These services can be a convenient and eco-friendly solution.

Mattress Buyback Programs and Trade-In Options:

Trade-in values for mattresses vary greatly but generally, you can expect between $50 to $200, depending on the mattress’s age, brand, and condition which is great to put that money into a brand new mattress.

  • Leesa: Leesa offers a one-time mattress exchange within a year of purchase.
  • Luma Sleep: Luma Sleep has a comfort exchange program where they will swap out your mattress within the first year if it doesn’t suit your comfort needs.
  • Nectar Sleep: Nectar offers a Forever Warranty which includes a mattress replacement option.

Mattress Pick-Up Services:

While some mattress companies offer free pick-up services when purchasing a new mattress, independent mattress pick-up services typically charge a fee, usually around $50-$150.

  • 1-800-GOT-JUNK: This company provides a professional junk removal service that can pick up and dispose of your old mattress.
  • LoadUp: LoadUp offers a nationwide mattress removal service, picking up your old mattress from your home and disposing of it responsibly.
  • Mattress Disposal Plus: This company offers an affordable and green solution to mattress disposal, providing removal and recycling services.
  • Junk King: Junk King provides a mattress disposal service to haul away your old mattress and box springs.

Steps to Follow for Responsible Mattress Disposal

  1. Assess the condition of your old mattress.
  2. Research local regulations regarding mattress disposal.
  3. Consider repurposing the mattress if it’s in a usable condition.
  4. Look into recycling options in your area.
  5. Investigate donation possibilities for your mattress.
  6. Check for mattress buyback programs or pick up services.
  7. Finally, responsibly dispose of your mattress if none of the above options work.


Getting rid of an old mattress can seem like a daunting task, but there are many environmentally-friendly and practical options available. From repurposing and recycling to donation and professional disposal services, you have many avenues to explore.

Remember, every mattress that we divert from a landfill helps reduce environmental impact and conserve valuable resources. Hence, when you’re deciding what to do with an old mattress, make a choice that benefits not just you, but also our planet.


Can I throw my old mattress in the dumpster?

While it’s technically possible, it’s not the most environmentally-friendly solution and may not be legal in your area. Always check local regulations.

Are there companies that will pick up my old mattress?

Yes, there are businesses that offer this service, often for a fee. Some will even dispose of your mattress responsibly.

Can all parts of a mattress be recycled?

Most parts of a mattress can be recycled, including the metal, foam, and wood. However, the exact percentage varies depending on the mattress type and the recycling facility.


  • Jen Wheeler

    Jen Wheeler, co-founder of Recycling-Revolution.com, holds degrees from UC Berkeley, Yale, and Stanford. A renowned environmentalist, she's championed sustainable practices at global events and leads EcoBright Solutions, focusing on recycling education and eco-friendly products.

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