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How to Get Rid of an Old Mattress

By April 6, 2023 No Comments

A good, comfy mattress is great to have for all sorts of reasons, especially if you’re getting a good eight hours’ worth of quality sleep every night. What about a ratty old mattress? Not so much.

When it’s time to get rid of an old mattress and to upgrade to a cozy new mattress, you ought to be excited for your new investment, and rightfully so. But whatever will you do with your old one?

Getting rid of an old mattress can be a challenge for many different reasons, but there are affordable, environmentally friendly ways to get rid of your mattress. Read on to learn more about how to get rid of an old mattress so you can carry on with getting a great sleep on your new mattress.

How to Get Rid of an Old Mattress Junk Removal Near Me

Why is it so hard to get rid of an old mattress?

Getting rid of an old mattress is difficult for a number of reasons, but it doesn’t have to be a hassle. Some of the reasons why a mattress is hard to get rid of include:

  • Most city sanitation departments explicitly state that they do not accept used mattresses;
  • Used mattresses cannot (and should not) be refurbished or resold to others;
  • Most dumpster rentals used for construction or renovation purposes explicitly state that they do not accept mattresses in the dumpster.

These reasons are fair, but it isn’t because used mattresses cannot be recycled – they can! Perhaps the problem is a little like disposable diapers. In the 1990s, it was found that disposable diapers can indeed be recycled into their constituent parts, but realistically it has not been widely adopted because used diapers are often too soiled with urine and feces to be actually recyclable. As for mattresses, the first part holds true, but the second (hopefully) is not always the case.

Tips on how to get rid of an old mattress

If you need to get rid of an old mattress, there are a few ways you can do it:

Contact your city/county sanitation department

Most city and county sanitation departments do not accept mattresses with your ordinary household garbage and trash collection from the curbside. Still, you may wish to get in touch with them to ask how you can get rid of it. They may offer a one-time used mattress collection service, or at least they can point you in the right direction, such as to a nearby mattress recycling program.

Call a waste management company

You may be inclined to call a waste management company to pick up a used mattress. Many will come by and pick it up, but the price may be a little too unreasonable as these companies often work best for commercial or industrial clients or countywide on a contractual basis.

Call a local junk hauler

Perhaps the best way to get rid of an old mattress is to call a local junk hauler operating in your area. Junk haulers can come by your property quickly, pick up the old mattress, and haul it away, often on the same day. This is important for reasons we’ll mention below.

As for finding a local, genuine junk hauler that offers best prices, you should start your search right here on JunkGator.

Why proper mattress disposal is important

Proper mattress disposal is important for a few key reasons:

  1. It frees up space in your bedroom;
  2. It minimizes needless landfill waste and maximizes recyclable materials;
  3. Old mattresses pose a number of potential health hazards
  4. In some jurisdictions, mattress disposal laws are in place.

Create more living space

Naturally, you should be buying a new mattress to put to good use every night you spend at home. That new mattress deserves to be in your bedroom, welcoming you as you finish a long day of work, so of course that old stinky mattress should be nowhere in sight.

Environmental impact of mattress disposal

Mattress disposal is very important for the environmental impact it can cause, but also consider the tens of thousands of mattresses that are discarded every single day in the United States, the size of a typical mattress, and hopefully you get the picture: there’s a lot of waste, and any effort to reduce or recycle mattress waste can go a long way to mitigating the environmental impact it has.

The potential environmental hazards posed by an old mattress include:

  • Landfill pollution: when disposed of in a landfill, a mattress can take anywhere from around 50-100 years to decompose since it is typically made of various synthetic materials that do not easily break down, even in a properly aerated modern landfill.
  • Illegal dumping: we will discuss mattress disposal laws further on, but for now suffice it to say that the illegal dumping of mattresses is fairly common and it causes an awful eyesore in communities and areas where it occurs.

Health impact of mattress disposal

One of the most important reasons to properly dispose of a mattress – and to do so quickly – is because old mattresses may pose one or more health hazards depending on their condition.

There are many good and obvious reasons why you should never buy a used mattress from a stranger (or from anyone, for that matter); you probably wouldn’t buy used underwear, we’ll just leave it at that.

The potential health and hygiene hazards posed by an old mattress include:

  • Respiratory illnesses: dust mites, pet dander, and even mold can fester and spread in a mattress, potentially triggering allergies or asthma symptoms.
  • Bedbugs: it can be very frustrating (and costly) to try and exterminate bedbugs, and of course they’re commonly found in mattresses. Old mattresses can spread bedbugs throughout your home, which can lead to itchiness, rashes, and spreading to a new mattress if you haven’t fumigated your home to kill them off.
  • Fire hazard: all mattresses are made with materials that are flammable to some extent, but older mattresses are often more broken down and can become highly flammable.

Mattress disposal laws

A non-profit recycling program known as Bye Bye Mattress, which is in place in states where laws have been enacted regarding mattress disposal. So far, California, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Oregon are listed as states with used mattress recovery and recycling laws in place. These laws place the onus on mattress producers and retailers to register with the Mattress Recycling Council. Retailers must offer no-charge take-back of customers’ used mattresses, provided they are in a clean and dry state. Depending on the state, retailers charge from around $10.50-$16 as a recycling fee for each mattress sold.

One thing they are not obligated to do, however, is to accept mattresses deemed ‘unrecyclable,’ either because it was too dirty or soiled from being exposed to the elements or if the mattress may pose a health hazard to mattress retailer employees, for example. If you live in a state with used mattress disposal laws and you are unable to give it back to the retailer (or rather, they are unwilling to accept it) then you must consider alternative methods of mattress disposal.

Mattress recycling in the United States

One of the leading recycling organizations for used mattresses in the United States is the Mattress Recycling Council (MRC). They state that more than 75% of a mattress is recyclable and nearly 50,000 mattresses are discarded every single day in the United States. The MRC recycles around 1.5 million mattresses every year.

Mattress recycling use cases

Over three-quarters of a typical mattress can be recycled, but how exactly? What are mattresses made of? Of course, there are many different types of mattresses on the market today, but generally they contain many of the same materials, sandwiched together in seven layers. Below is a table showing the various materials found in a typical mattress as well as common recycling applications:

Mattress Component Material Recycling Applications
Quilt Panels Fibers, including cotton, rayon & polyester Shredded, used as carpet padding
Memory Foam Polyurethane foam Shredded, used as carpet padding
Polyurethane Foam Polyurethane foam Shredded, used as carpet padding
Latex Foam Natural, synthetic or blended latex rubber Shredded, used as carpet padding
Fibers Coconut fibers, wool, polyester, horsehair Limited use, landfilled
Cotton Gin mote cotton Limited use, some insulation products
Shoddy Felt Mixed post-industrial fabric Limited use
Pocketed Coils High-carbon steel, encased in polypropylene Scrap metal
Bonnell Coils Hard, high-carbon steel Scrap metal
Bottom Layer Cotton, polyester, mixed woven ticking Limited use, used as carpet padding

Information source: Mattress Recycling Council

Many of the foam and fabric layers of a typical mattress end up as carpet padding, whereas the coils found within a mattress tend to be far easier to recycle as they are made of valuable steel.

Box spring/foundation recycling use cases

Quite often, throwing out an old mattress also means throwing out the box spring or foundation that accompanies it. If your bed uses a foundation or box spring, many of the materials are also recyclable as per the below table:

Boxpsring/Foundation Component Material Recycling Applications
Top Layer Cotton, polyester, blended fibers Limited use, used as carpet padding
Shoddy Felt Mixed post-industrial fabric Limited use
Foundation Springs Low-carbon steel Scrap metal
Wooden Frame Softwood, Canadian pine Mulch, shipping pallets, fuel pellets, biofuel
Bottom Layer Polyester, polypropylene, mixed fabric Recyclable plastics

Information source: ibid.

Likewise, a typical box spring or foundation often ends up being recycled as carpet padding and scrap metal, but the wooden frame is also quite flexible in how it can be recycled.



My role is to fact check original and engaging content published on the JunkGator website. I like to consider myself somewhat of an expert on eco-friendly waste management.