Along with electronics, mattresses are one of the most difficult consumer products to get rid of responsibly—which is why they frequently end up getting illegally dumped in alleyways or left on curbsides. Plus, landfills often charge extra fees to deal with mattresses, which are bulky, don’t compact well, and can cause toxic, flammable air pockets to form in dump sites. Trying to get rid of a mattress is a hassle, but letting it rot away isn’t exactly eco-friendly, either.
Recycling mattresses is also a complicated problem, as mattresses are typically made of wood, steel, cotton, and polyurethane foam. Of all that, only foam is easily recyclable.
So what’s the best way to get rid of a mattress you no longer need or want? Here are our picks:
Return the Mattress to the Manufacturer
If you’re purchasing a new mattress to replace the one you want to get rid of, ask the retailer if you can take your old one and return it to the manufacturer. With an estimated 50,000 mattresses being disposed of each day in the United States, many manufacturers are taking on the task of mattress recycling themselves.
Sell or Give Away the Mattress
If you’re looking to get rid of a gently used mattress, but are not replacing it with a new one, consider selling it for a reasonable price, or offering it for free on Craigslist or OfferUp. As long as the mattress doesn’t harbor bed bugs or have obvious signs of wear, passing it along to someone who will use it can be a viable, environmentally friendly option.
Donate Your Used Mattress to Charity
Check with your local non-profits to see if any will be able to put the mattress to use. Depending on health department regulations in your area, organizations like The Salvation Army and Goodwill might be able to take a used mattress off your hands. Habitat for Humanity, churches, and homeless shelters can also be good places to check. Once you’ve secured a place that will take your old mattress, book a Dolly to bring your mattress to its new home.
Find a Specialized Recycling Program to Get Rid of a Mattress
If you’re not able to sell or donate your mattress, check with your city to see what your options are to get rid of a mattress. Many municipalities offer recycling programs themselves, or can point you in the direction of a local recycler. Some cities will even pick up your used mattress curbside and dispose of it appropriately.
Break the Mattress Down Yourself
If you have the time, space, and tools, you can easily break a mattress down yourself. Simply cut around the perimeter of the fabric covering and peel the cloth and foam away from the box springs and wooden frame. You can roll these materials into a compact bundle and put them in your regular trash can. Next, take a saw and cut up the frame—which you can then burn or turn into wood chips. Take the box springs to a recycling center or sell them for scrap.
Given that mattresses can be so difficult to dispose of effectively, you may want to factor durability into your purchasing decisions. Some mattresses come with warranties that range up to 20 years. With proper maintenance, it’s not impossible for mattresses to last for decades, which can go a long way toward reducing your household’s overall waste footprint.
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