How To Dispose Of Or Donate An Old Mattress: Tips From An Industry CEO

If you’re shopping for a new mattress and need to make room by disposing of your old bed, there weren’t many options in the past, and often it was up to the homeowner to get rid of their mattress. Since mattresses are heavy and unwieldy, and since it’s difficult to properly dispose of one without risking fines for littering or illegally dumping them, it was a dreaded task, for sure.

These days, however, there are many ways to dispose of an old mattress, either by using a removal service donating to various organizations, or even gifting them to persons in need. Every year, about 18 million mattresses in the USA alone, are disposed of in either illegal dumping or in refuse or landfill facilities. Typically the largest object that is dumped at landfills, the average mattress consumes about 30-50 cubic feet, and dumping them into a landfill quickly occupies space that is needed for conventional garbage and refuse that will decompose.

Rather than using landfill space, which has resulted in many private and public landfill sites no longer accepting non-recycled or reduced mattresses, there are new methods that enterprising recycling businesses have created for reducing the components of a mattress to much smaller volume.

A mattress typically contains a large amount of recyclable materials, from metal coils to foam that can shredded and sterilized to be used for fill for upholstery products, and textile fibers that can be shredded to be used in a variety of applications. Dumping a mattress is a waste of valuable resources.

The Mattress Recycling Council (MRC) was formed by the mattress industry themselves to operate recycling programs, known as “Bye Bye Mattress” in states which have enacted mattress recycling laws – California, Connecticut and Rhode Island. MRC educates the mattress industry about mattress recycling laws, assists retailers and manufacturers with their registration and reporting obligations, and works closely with local governments, waste management professionals, recyclers and others to create an accessible and efficient mattress collection and recycling network. 

You can expect to pay a fee for using a recycling center, and as more come online in other states, it will become the most popular point of disposal for retired bedding. If you can drop your mattress off to a recycling center, expect to pay $50-100 for the service. The cost covers a whole host of expenses, though these centers are mandated by state law, and aren’t out to make a profit. The fee pays for facility and employee overhead, the cost of infrastructure, bags, boxes, and other single service use items.

Also, because of bedbug concerns and the coronavirus pandemic, many local donation facilities, thrift stores and Good Samaritan operations will likely be hesitant to accept donations, but don’t give up. Likely you can find a happy home. I even suggest calling your local government, churches and temples, and other organizations that will have contact with families in need, for which any decent mattress will be a gift.

If your mattress is soiled, wet, or damaged by stains, most donation resources will not accept them, so consider that and use a removal service such as LoadUP or 1-800-Got-Junk, shown below.

Organizations That May Accept Donations Of Retired Mattresses

Several large national charitable organizations will, depending upon the location and the local rules, accept retired beds. We advise to call around before loading up your mattress and trying facilities at random.

Habitat For Humanity, especially their Habitat Restore program, will occasionally pick up mattresses in excellent condition depending upon your location, along with bed frames and other home furnishings. Urban centers, like New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles, will often turn down requests to pick up used beds because of the issue with bed bugs, but they can be disinfected.

The Salvation Army may accept donations in limited areas, although they have historically accepted mattresses. You need to drop your mattress off in person, but always call your local center, because the rules say by location. Rarely, we’ve seen them offer pickup services, especially if you are offering other items for donation. NO stains, damages, rips, burns, or other imperfections. And make sure your mattress is wrapped in watertight and rip proof material. Here’s a link to Salvation Army’s Donor Guidelines page.

Goodwill operates over 3,000 retail thrift stores and donation facilities and rely heavily on donations, and on occasion, will accept donations of retired mattresses. Check with your local center and check out the donor guidelines on Goodwill’s site. Here is the link to Goodwill’s donor guidelines.

Here a couple more operations that can be found in many cities, and may accept mattresses in your area:

  • This organization will help you find a charity near you who will accept your mattress donation. They currently can arrange for donation pick up in 30 cities across the United States.

  • Furniture Bank Association: This organization donates furniture items from individuals and businesses to families who are struggling financially. Check their website to find your nearest location.

Very few thrift stores will accept mattresses, but if the bed is relatively new and if you have used a mattress protector, some will accept them. When we had our retail operation, we often found that some Thrift Stores or used furniture stores would pick them up if they were in pristine condition, so you can give that a shot…just remember to pack up your mattress well, wrapping in a continuous and thick plastic mattress bag, and sealing it well with clear tape.

Removal Services we recommend

There are many local removal services who will pick up your old mattress and properly dispose of it either at a recycling center or landfill that can reduce it to smaller components by using shredders, chipper like devices, or compression equipment. They generally will not illegally dump on private property because the risk of losing a business license, along with extremely high fines, would quickly put them out of business.

Removal services such as LoadUp offer professional and vetted removal of mattresses and other refuse and furnishings from your home, in over 170 cities across the USA. they have stellar Google reviews and are fully licensed and insured. Their teams are experienced, qualified, and given thorough background checks before being able to join the company.

LoadUp offers disassembly as well, in case you have a bed frame that needs to be moved, disassembled, or taken away with the mattress. there’s no waiting for an on-site “surprise!” estimate either, as upfront pricing is provided before the team arrives on-site.

Another company that I’m very familiar with is 1-800-Got-Junk, which has been around fo years, and has licensed franchisees in almost every state. They will also provide up-front pricing, and are fully licensed and bonded, and I can speak from personal experience when I tell you that the crews are fantastic. They have really competitive rates, and will pickup at the curb, or do touchless inside service, though during any health crisis, they will need to maintain social distancing. 

Their familiar green, blue and white emboldened trucks can also handle large loads of furniture and other household belongings. They also offer large scale junk hauling as well.  

selling your mattress

  • Try to sell your mattress locally: Before you consider this option, you should know that selling a mattress may be illegal in your state. Many states only allow you to sell a used mattress after you’ve cleaned it in a rigorous and specific way. Check with your state to find out its regulations. Because the department that handles bedding varies from state to state, you might have to contact your state departments of Health, Consumer Affairs, Agriculture or Licensing. Generally, so long as you advertise the mattress as used, and not new, it would be considered legal.

    You aren’t going to make enough money to justify shipping your used mattress across the country, so think local when you advertise. Anywhere that allows for an advertisement, such as a library, community center or locally-owned restaurant is a good place to start. When you’re writing a sales ad, include details about the cleanliness of your mattress along with details about its history: Non-smoking house, no pets and a relatively recent purchase date are all major selling points.

  • Sell your mattress online: Websites dedicated to consumer sales (like Cragislist and Facebook Marketplace are perfect, and I have sold many mattresses this way) are the best place to start when you’re trying to sell your mattress. You can also use your own social network to advertise your mattress. Place an ad on all of your social networking sites, and encourage your friends to share your post.

How to haul away a mattress

  • Use a waste disposal service:  Mattress hauling is part of waste disposal. You can call a dumpster rental or waste disposal service that will pick up and haul your mattress for you. Prices vary, and you’ll have to do some extra work, like wrapping it tightly in plastic, if you suspect your old mattress has bed bugs. (The service you use will be able to provide you with exact instructions).

  • Have your new mattress company haul your old one away:  Many mattress companies will take your old mattress away to recycle it when they deliver your new one, either free of charge or for a nominal fee, which generally will cover the cost of recycling or disposal. This is by far the easiest option since you won’t really need to do anything other than pay a small fee for the labor involved in removing and hauling away your old mattress. Here are some things to know:

  • Generally, the fee is under $50.

  • Some companies will haul your mattress away for free as an added incentive to have you purchase your new one from them.

  • Best for local moves.

  • Many online retailers don’t offer this service.

  • Ask if haul away is an option before you buy your mattress. Most delivery services that offer mattress hauling do so by appointment, and some stores or mattress companies (especially those that sell online) don’t offer this convenient service. If you’re working with a store that doesn’t offer to haul your old mattress away, you might want to shop around till you find one that does.

    The trick here is to arrange for your new mattress to be delivered before you move. This option will work best for a local move, since you’ll end up having to move your new mattress anyway. If you’re moving far away, or just don’t want to deal with the headache of transporting a brand new mattress, this isn’t your best bet.

Bottom line

It’s important to think about how you’re going to get rid of your old mattress before your new one is delivered. Recycling, donating and selling your mattress are all options that will keep your old mattress out of a landfill so you can enjoy your new mattress knowing that you did your part to help protect the environment.