Ideally, a mattress would last forever. But the sad truth is that mattresses change over time and will eventually need replacing.
The process of researching which comfortable new mattress to buy is the fun part — but then people have to figure out what on earth to do with the old one that they don’t need anymore.
Some retailers, including Raymour & Flanigan, Casper, 1-800 Mattress, and Mattress Firm, will offer a removal service for an old mattress when they deliver the new one. But that’s not the case with every retailer, so what’s the best way to get rid of an old mattress in that scenario?
This article will cover how people can tell when it’s time to replace their mattress and dive into the options available for mattress disposal — including large trash pickup, donation, and recycling. It will also offer tips for selecting a new mattress and how best to care for one’s mattress to keep it functional for as long as possible.
How Long Should A Mattress Last?
According to Consumer Reports, there’s no one-size-fits-all timeline for when people need to replace a mattress, but a good mattress can last around 10 years. A mattress that people have used consistently for seven years or more warrants an evaluation. (If someone is over 40, Consumer Reports recommends evaluating their mattress every five to seven years.)
Someone’s personal timeline for getting a new mattress will depend on a number of factors including how sensitive they are to changes in their mattress, whether they suffer from any health issues such as back pain, whether their sleeping situation changes (for instance, if they begin sleeping with a partner), and whether they prefer a soft, firm, or bouncy-feeling mattress.
How Can Someone Know When It’s Time to Dispose Of Their Mattress?
There are a number of ways to evaluate whether or not it’s time to dispose of a mattress. People should take careful note of how well they sleep at night and how they feel when they wake up in the morning.
In particular, people should see if they notice any of the following issues:
- Constantly waking up feeling sore or achy- This could indicate that one’s mattress no longer supports their body properly while they sleep, causing aches and pains.
- The mattress feels uneven, lumpy, or saggy- This could be a sign that the components in a mattress have shifted or compacted over time, causing an uncomfortable sleeping surface.
- The mattress is so thin that people can feel what’s underneath it- If someone can feel mattress springs poking them — or the hard slats from their bed frame — that means it’s time to get a new mattress.
- People toss and turn all night because they can’t get comfortable- Even if people can’t feel specific lumps, sagging, or thinness, they should look into replacing their mattress if they cannot get comfortable at night.
- People sleep more comfortably in a bed that’s not their own, such as a bed in a hotel or a family member’s guest bedroom.
- People keep experiencing allergies or asthma symptoms- Unfortunately, there’s a bunch of nasty stuff that could be building up in a mattress over time, causing asthma or allergy symptoms (think: runny nose, itchy eyes, sneezing). “There’s a multitude of contaminants — bacteria, fungi, and allergens — that people can’t see but studies show are there,” a CNN article explains. “When people move around as they sleep, they kick them up [into] the air and breathe them in.”
Will A Warranty Cover Any Of These Issues?
In some situations, an issue with a mattress may be covered by the warranty. A warranty means that a company must agree to repair or replace its products in the case of defects or structural flaws.
Warranties vary between companies and even between different products made by the same brand. When people are considering a purchase, make sure to look at an item’s warranty to find out:
- How long does the warranty last for?
- What is covered under the warranty? (e.g. are certain parts excluded? Who is responsible for shipping a defective item back to the manufacturer?)
- What counts as voiding the warranty?
- Will the warranty cover any “consequential damage”? (This refers to damages that occur because of the mattress. For instance, if the mattress breaks and that harms a bedside lamp, the warranty is unlikely to cover the lamp.)
- How will the company respond if the item is defective? Will they repair it? Replace the item? Offer a full or partial refund?
- Is the warranty pro-rated, meaning the buyer is responsible for a percentage of the repair/replacement cost? This percentage typically increases as time goes on.
What’s Covered In A Mattress Warranty?
As noted above, warranties vary depending on the company and item. That being said, issues commonly covered by a mattress warranty include:
- Damaged coils
- Split seams
- Damaged handles
- A broken box spring
- Substantial mattress sagging
- An un-smooth mattress surface
What’s Not Covered By A Mattress Warranty?
Again, warranties vary depending on the company or item. But problems that will usually not be covered by a mattress warranty include:
- Stains or discoloration
- Tearing on the outside of the mattress
- The cost to repair or replace non-defective components
- “Minor” sagging (meaning, sagging that is not deep enough to count as a defect)
- Feeling uncomfortable
Also, there are a number of ways people can void their mattress warranty without even realizing that they have done so. People should make sure to read the warranty carefully when they purchase their mattress to familiarize themselves with the guidelines. In general, people can may void the warranty if:
- They remove the mattress tag.
- They stain the mattress or otherwise damage it with fluids.
- They don’t provide the proper support for their mattress (e.g. a box spring, slatted bed frame, and so on).
- They don’t rotate or flip their mattress as recommended.
- They are not the original buyer of the mattress.
What Options Are Available For Mattress Disposal?
There are a number of ways to dispose of a mattress. Depending on where someone lives, some options may be easier than others, and some may be free while others will require people to pay.
In some cases, people will be getting rid of a mattress because they purchased a new one, in which case they can ask the new mattress’s retailer if they offer a service to dispose of their old mattress.
It’s also a good idea to research local options for large trash pickup, recycling, donation, or even creative reuse. Here’s what people should know about five different mattress disposal options.
Large Trash Pickup
One’s options for large trash pickup depend on their geographical location and the services their area offers. In many cities and towns, people can make an appointment online for a mattress or box spring to be picked up by their local trash service free of charge.
People should search their location plus “bulk waste collection” or “large trash pickup” to see what their area offers. In other locations, people may find that using a private trash collection service is their best bet.
People don’t need to transport their mattress to a second location, as it will be collected and disposed of from their home.
Depending on where people live, they may need to use a private collection service, which may charge a fee to collect and dispose of their mattress.
Taking The Mattress To The Landfill
If someone is able to transport their mattress themselves, they may want to take it directly to the landfill rather than waiting for a trash pickup service to collect it. One’s local landfill or dump may charge a fee to accept the mattress.
People may be able to take a mattress to the landfill on their own time, rather than waiting for a scheduled pickup appointment or bulk trash day.
People need to transport the mattress themselves, which will typically require a large vehicle. People may have to pay a fee for the landfill to accept the mattress.
Additionally, this is not a great option from an environmental standpoint. Landfills are already overflowing with waste, and mattresses contribute to that problem. According to a Seattle Times article, mattresses can cause issues for landfill equipment during garbage compaction: “Mattresses don’t compact well. Even worse, the mattress springs pop out and get tangled in the equipment, often damaging it.”
According to Consumer Affairs, around 90% of the material in a mattress can be recycled, including the wood frame, steel springs, polyurethane foam, and outer foam. There are some specialty mattress recycling facilities around the country which break down a mattress and sort the components.
According to an article in the Christian Science Monitor, a mattress recycling facility works like this:
“During the recycling process, each mattress or box spring is pushed onto a conveyor belt, where specially designed saws cut away soft materials on the top and bottom, separating the polyurethane foam and cotton fiber from the framework. The metal pieces are magnetically removed, and the remaining fiber materials are then shredded and baled. The whole process takes one worker just three to four minutes per mattress.”
People can find local mattress recycling facilities using sites like Earth911, or research whether their city has a mattress recycling program. It’s also possible to break down a mattress by hand and recycle the parts — look for an instructional video on YouTube or an online guide like this one from Budget Dumpster.
Recycling one’s mattress is a responsible way to get rid of it, as this cuts down on the problem of landfill waste. People may be able to find a service to remove and recycle their mattress for free (if their area offers it) or a fee.
It’s not always easy to find a place to recycle one’s mattress. People can recycle their mattress by hand, but breaking down a mattress and sorting the parts can be time-consuming and take up a lot of space.
If one’s mattress is still in good shape, they may want to donate it. It can be tricky to find a place willing to accept donated mattresses due to widespread fears about bedbugs and other allergens or contaminants.
People could also consider listing the mattress for free on forums like Facebook or Craigslist, to give it away to someone who needs it.
DonationTown.org can help people find a charity in their area that accepts mattress donations. National charities that may accept mattress donations include:
- The Salvation Army (call one’s local Salvation Army to check)
- The Furniture Bank Association
- Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI)
People will know they contributed to a family in need or a charity doing important work. If they donate the mattress to an organization, they can ask for a donation receipt and write off the value of their mattress in their taxes.
It’s not always simple to find a charity that takes mattress donations. Even if people do find a charity willing to accept their mattress, they may not offer pickup services, meaning they may be responsible for transporting the mattress themselves.
There are a few creative ways to reuse or “upcycle” one’s old mattress. If people take their mattress apart, they can use the parts in tons of different ways — for example, the springs could be used in their garden to support seedlings, a metal frame could be repurposed as wall art, and so on. Check out Pinterest or this Home Hacks article for ideas.
People are not contributing to landfill overflow, and they won’t need to organize for someone to pick up or recycle their mattress or transport it themselves. This might also save them the fees sometimes associated with disposal.
People typically have to break down the mattress themselves, which is time-intensive. They also still have to get rid of the parts they don’t end up reusing or upcycling.
Tips For Buying A New Mattress
Okay, so you know that your old mattress isn’t working for you — but how could you possibly choose a new one? There are tons of mattress brands out there, so which one is best for you? Should you shop in-store, or online? Do you want memory foam, innerspring coils, or a combination of the two? Or would another option like a natural fiber mattress, air mattress, or waterbed best fit your needs?
The questions can seem endless, but our ultimate guide to buying a new mattress shares everything you need to know. Here’s a very summarized version of those tips:
Consider what you are looking for in a new mattress.
Ideally, people will find a model that is comfortable; does not overheat; has firm, supportive edges; properly supports their spine while they sleep, and is safe for the person sleeping on it. If people sleep with a partner or a pet, they may be particularly interested in motion isolation technology, so they are not disturbed by their movement during the night.
Figure out which mattress size makes the best sense for you.
Most retailers will give people the option of a Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, or California King size bed. To determine the right size for someone, they should consider the size of their bedroom, their sleeping habits, whether they share a bed with pets or a partner, and so on. Once people have ascertained how firm or soft they would like their mattress and decided whether they like memory foam, innerspring coils, or a hybrid mattress, they can see what’s available in their price range.
If you have specific needs, consider them when searching.
Determine how you will support your new mattress.
Will you use a box spring, a bed frame, or both? You may be able to save money by reusing an existing support structure, but only if it matches the mattress in question. In some cases, mattress warranties will not be valid if you don’t use the proper support.
Consider the warranty.
As mentioned before, make sure to look over all warranty information before committing to a certain mattress. Also, see if your mattress retailer offers a risk-free trial period, which would allow you to test the mattress for a certain number of nights and return it if it doesn’t end up working for you.
What happens when you buy a new mattress with a risk-free trial period and decide you don’t like it?
If people do go with a brand that has a risk-free trial period, and they decide the mattress isn’t right for they within that period, then what happens next?
The answer depends on which company or retailer they worked with. For instance, Nectar, which offers a 365-night trial, will help them donate or dispose of their mattress locally. Saatva offers 120-day trials and will come to pick up the unwanted mattress and give them a full refund minus a $99 delivery fee.
Make sure to read all the information about a free mattress trial before you purchase, so you know what to expect.
How To Make Your New Mattress Last As Long As Possible
So, you’ve figured out the most convenient way to get rid of your old mattress, and a new replacement has arrived. How can you best take care of the new mattress to ensure it lasts for as long as possible?
- Use a mattress protector. This protects the mattress from spills or staining. There are also mattress protectors specifically designed to protect against allergens like dust mites. Given that spills and stains may void a mattress warranty, it’s extra important to invest in a mattress protector.
- Rotate and flip your mattress regularly. If you rotate and flip your mattress every now and then, you won’t be sleeping in the exact same spot for years on end. This means you are less likely to compress or shift the mattress components or cause sagging. Just note that some beds, like Tempur-Pedics, do not need to be rotated, and mattresses with a special top layer (such as a pillow-top) should not be flipped.
- Vacuum your mattress. Yes, seriously! Vacuuming can help prevent dust and skin flakes from building up and also help manage allergens inside your mattress.
- Encase your mattress in plastic during transport. No matter whether you’re moving across the street or to another state, it’s important to protect your mattress during transport. A plastic encasement will help keep your mattress safe from rips, stains, and other damage.
The Bottom Line On Getting Rid Of Your Mattress
So, you think you need a new mattress? Take some time to evaluate whether your mattress needs to be replaced. Common signs that you could use an upgrade include constant aches and pains, feeling lumps or sags in the mattress, allergies and asthma-type symptoms, and sleeping more comfortably in beds that are not your own. You can consult your mattress warranty to see if any of your issues are covered, or simply commit to getting rid of your old mattress.
There are numerous ways to dispose of an old mattress, which include trashing it, donating it, recycling it, or reusing it. Trash and donation services will vary from area to area, and some places may offer these services for free while others will require a fee. Research to see what is available, and decide what’s best for you based on the cost, effort, and environmental implications involved in each scenario.
When you are looking for a replacement mattress, think carefully about your budget and what type of mattress you are looking for — hard or firm? Bouncy or enveloping? Be sure to research delivery options, warranties, and the terms and conditions of any free trials.
Once your new mattress is safely installed, make sure to take proper care of it by using a mattress protector, regularly rotating or flipping your mattress if needed, protecting the mattress during transport, and vacuuming the mattress a couple of times a year.
Featured image: DGLimages/Shutterstock
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