Learning how to dispose of a mattress will benefit the planet – and best of all, it's fairly easy to do. If you're welcoming the new year with a brand new mattress, take proper care to remove your old one safely.
In the US and the UK, there are several environmentally friendly ways to dispose of a mattress. For example, you could donate it to charity, depending on the condition it’s in, or break it down into individual components for recycling or upcycling it into various household and garden objects.
The very best mattresses are designed to last around eight years on average – and some have an even longer lifespan. You’ll be faced with getting rid of an old mattress to make way for a new one at various points in your life. Here we look at how to dispose of a mattress in the US and the UK, with options for free disposal, recycling, and charity donation.
We’ll also look at how to get rid of an old mattress that has seen better days, and highlight the places where you can dispose of a mattress for free. Don’t forget that if you are buying a mattress in a box, the brand may offer an old mattress disposal or removal service, which will save you from having to do it yourself.
How to dispose of a mattress: The basics
When getting rid of a mattress – whether it’s a hybrid, organic, spring or memory foam mattress – the first thing to do is look at its condition and check your warranty. If yours is covered by a Forever Warranty, you may be entitled to free repairs or an upgrade. For guidance, check out our feature on how mattress warranties work.
The key thing to remember is that a mattress cannot be reused for sleeping if it is in any way unfit to snooze on. That includes if:
- The cover is ripped
- Springs or foam are protruding
- It smells, has dampness, stains or mold
- It has bed bugs or mites
- It is sagging badly
As we explain in our feature answering how long does a mattress last, most will keep you comfy for around seven to eight years, but some have much shorter and longer lifespans. Still, you'll want to be aware of the telltale signs it's time to replace your mattress.
If it isn’t fit for its original purpose (sleeping), then it may still be able to be recycled. In the US, the Mattress Recycling Council claims that more than 75% of mattresses can be recycled, so this should be your first consideration before heading to the dump.
However, if it really is the end of the road and it absolutely cannot be recycled, then it should be properly disposed of at your local dump. If you need to hire transport to do this, then it’s worth teaming up with other people so you can fill the vehicle and remove several large items at once, reducing your carbon footprint.
Another way to get rid of an old mattress is to break it down and dispose of the components separately. Check the regulations in your local area with regard to the proper disposal of materials such as metal.
If you do break it down, you might be surprised at what you will find. Quite often the components can be upcycled and used around the home – look online for creative ideas, such as bird-feeders made with bedsprings.
How to dispose of a mattress: Recycling
If your mattress definitely no longer serves its purpose as a place for sleeping, you should still be able to recycle it. This will involve taking the mattress apart and retrieving the separate components such as fabric, foam and metal, so that each part can be reused for other purposes. This could be within pet beds or vehicle seats. (Cool, huh? )
If you are able to break down the mattress yourself, then it might be easier and cheaper to take each part to a recycling center. If this is not possible, look online to see if there’s a recycling center near you, and how much it will cost for them to take your mattress and separate it for you. Some companies will also pick up your mattress as part of the disposal process.
Another way to recycle your mattress and recoup some of the costs is to break it down home and sell the parts for scrap. Or, if you are a creative type, repurpose/upcycle the components for use in craft projects and upholstery solutions.
Mattress recycling in the US
- Mattress recycling is available nationwide, but some states (such as California, Oregon, Connecticut and Rhode Island) come with legislation citing that mattresses must be recycled responsibly. This comes with a fee.
- The Mattress Recycling Council website has information and comprehensive lists of what recycling is available within each state.
- Earth 911 has an excellent directory of places that will take mattresses for recycling, as does Bye Bye Mattress.
Mattress recycling in the UK
- Check with your local council to see what recycling options are available in your area.
- For England and Wales visit GOV.UK to find a recycling centre near you, as well as any pickup options.
- In Scotland, Zero Waste Scotland has plenty of advice on what is available in your local area.
- For residents of Northern Ireland, check out Usel Recycling Solutions, which is the only organisation in Northern Ireland to provide such a service.
- There are other services across the UK, such as The Mattress Recycling People and Collect Your Old Bed, a company that will pick up and recycle your mattress for a fee.
How to dispose of a mattress: Donating
There are many charities and non-profit organizations that accept mattress donations, and some will pick up too. If you do choose to donate your mattress, first consider whether you would sleep on it yourself. If you wouldn’t, then it is not fit for donation.
Most donation centers and homeless shelters will take mattresses as long as they are fit for purpose. That means no stains, odors, rips or bedbugs. Also, if the mattress is sagging in the middle, it is generally not suitable.
Mattresses need to be safe too, so if you are trying to dispose of a mattress that hasn’t been used for a very long time, check that the safety information on the label is still current.
Mattress donation in the US
While some organizations such as The Salvation Army and Goodwill do take larger items, not all of them take used mattresses. Check with your local branches to see if they can help. It’s also worth offering your mattress for free on Craigslist, Facebook or FreeCycle.org to see if anybody is in need of it. The following are also good options:
Mattress donation in the UK
There are several easy ways to donate your fit-for-purpose mattress in the UK, including on Gumtree, Facebook, and Freecycle. If you want to be sure your unwanted mattress is going to a charitable cause, the following are also excellent choices:
How to dispose of a mattress: Removal
If you have found somewhere to donate or sell your mattress but need to deliver it yourself, there are several ways to do this. If the mattress really is unusable, even for recycling, then you might also need help taking it to the tip or dump.
There are plenty of junk removal services available but prices vary, so check out a few before you commit. You can also hire a van, which can be cost-effective if you team up with others who also need to recycle or dispose of large items from their home.
If you do go with a junk removal service, check the guidelines with the company first as they may not take your old mattress if it smells, has dampness, mold or bed bugs. If this is the case, dry out or wrap the mattress before it is taken away.
If you’re hiring a removal service to take your mattress to the recycling center, it’s worth checking out the reputation of the company first to make sure they’re not just dumping your mattress in a field or road. Here is some extra information for removing your old mattress...
Mattress removal and transportation in the US
- Shop around for different junk removal companies, such as LoadUp, which offers a fully comprehensive service where you can schedule a pickup online. The average cost with LoadUp is around $80, but this varies from state to state.
- Some municipalities also offer curbside pickup, which can be free or costs up to $15 – check the details before you commit to this option, as not all take mattresses.
- If you buy a mattress online from companies such as Saatva, Nectar or Leesa, they will also remove your old mattress as part of their white-glove delivery service. Some offer this service for free, while others charge an additional fee.
Mattress removal and transportation in the UK
- Websites such as LoveJunk feature an easy way to get rid of your mattress. Simply create a free listing with a price you’re willing to pay for removal, and then you will be presented with a list of local collectors and their costs, which you can ignore, accept or make an offer they can’t refuse. Think of it as eBay in reverse.
- Some local councils will pick up your mattress for a fee via their special collection of large waste items service. Put in your postcode at GOV.UK to see what your local council has to offer in England and Wales or go straight to your council website in Scotland.
- Many online mattress companies will, for a fee, remove your existing mattress when they deliver your new one. Companies that offer this service include IKEA and Dreams.
How to dispose of a mattress less often
The best way to make sure you don’t have to dispose of your mattress very often is to buy a good one that will last you for years to come. And if you can choose one with organic, biodegradable components, then that’s even better.
While the initial cost is often a little higher when it comes to well-made mattresses, in the long run it will be more cost-effective, especially when your mattress serves you well for eight or nine years. You can also browse mattress sales for ways to save on even premium models.
When shopping for a new mattress, check that it has a decent warranty, as that is a reliable indicator of long-lasting quality. Also, make sure you get the right size – our guide to mattress sizes and bed dimensions can help you there.
Fortunately, the top brands include a mattress trial so you can test it at home before making a full-on commitment. These trials last 100 nights on average, but some manufacturers provide a full year to try it out. Most brands allow for free returns, and in some cases will even donate your mattress to a nearby charity. However, some companies (like Saatva) will charge for returns.
If you’re on a budget, there are always plenty of offers and cheap mattress deals up for grabs, which could reduce the cost of a pricer but long-lasting model to within your budget.
Learning how to clean a mattress properly can help it last longer, too. It’s also worth rotating it regularly if the manufacturer advises it - read our feature answering how often should you rotate your mattress for guidance.
How to dispose of a mattress: Bottom line
Ultimately, when it comes to how to dispose of a mattress, the biggest thing to remember is this: if your mattress can be recycled properly, take the time to do so. Dumping a mattress and adding to landfill should always be the absolute last resort.
It takes up to 120 years for a mattress to decompose, so try to avoid this at all costs. If you’re not sure whether your mattress is recyclable, contact your local recycling center for advice.
If you're ready to replace your current bed with something longer-lasting, here are today's best mattress deals in the US and the UK:
For further sleep products and advice, check out our guide to the best pillows for sleeping, and the best weighted blankets for restless sleepers. Also learn how to keep your bedroom warm this holiday season.