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 you have to figure out what on earth to do with the old one that you 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 dispose of a mattress in that scenario?
This article will cover how you can tell when it’s time to replace your mattress and dive into the options available for mattress disposal — including large trash pickup, donation, and recycling. We will also offer tips for selecting a new mattress and how best to care for your 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 you need to replace a mattress, but a good mattress can last around 10 years. A mattress that you have used consistently for seven years or more warrants an evaluation. (If you are over 40, Consumer Reports recommends evaluating your mattress every five to seven years.)
Your personal timeline for getting a new mattress will depend on a number of factors including how sensitive you are to changes in your mattress, whether you suffer from any health issues such as back pain, whether your sleeping situation changes (for instance, if you begin sleeping with a partner), and whether you prefer a soft, firm, or bouncy-feeling mattress.
Signs You Need A New Mattress
There are a number of ways to evaluate whether or not it’s time to dispose of a mattress. You should take careful note of how well you sleep at night and how you feel when you wake up in the morning.
In particular, you should see if you notice any of the following issues:
- Constantly waking up feeling sore or achy- This could indicate that your mattress no longer supports your body properly while you 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 you can feel what’s underneath it- If you can feel mattress springs poking you — or the hard slats from your bed frame — that means it’s time to get a new mattress.
- You toss and turn all night because you can’t get comfortable- Even if you can’t feel specific lumps, sagging, or thinness, you should look into replacing your mattress if you cannot get comfortable at night.
- You sleep more comfortably in a bed that’s not your own, such as a bed in a hotel or a family member’s guest bedroom.
- You keep experiencing allergies or asthma symptoms- Unfortunately, there’s a bunch of nasty stuff that could be building up in a mattress over time like dust mites, 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.” Pro tip: Next time you’re shopping, check out our list of the best organic mattresses to find a hypoallergenic option.
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 you are considering a purchase, make sure to look at an item’s warranty to find out if any issues you have are covered in the mattress warranty.
What Options Are Available For Mattress Disposal?
There are a number of ways to dispose of a mattress. Depending on where you live, some options may be easier than others, and some may be free while others will require you to pay.
In some cases, you will be getting rid of a mattress because you purchased a new one, in which case you can ask the new mattress’s retailer if they offer a service to dispose of your 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 you should know about five different mattress disposal options.
Large Trash Pickup
Your options for large trash pickup depend on your geographical location and the services your area offers. In many cities and towns, you can make an appointment online for a mattress or box spring to be picked up by your local trash service free of charge.
You should search your location plus “bulk waste collection” or “large trash pickup” to see what your area offers. In other locations, you may find that using a private trash collection service is your best bet.
You don’t need to transport your mattress to a second location, as it will be collected and disposed of from your home.
Depending on where you live, you may need to use a private collection service, which may charge a fee to collect and dispose of your mattress.
Taking The Mattress To The Landfill
If your is able to transport your mattress themselves, you may want to take it directly to the landfill rather than waiting for a trash pickup service to collect it. Your local landfill or dump may charge a fee to accept the mattress.
You may be able to take a mattress to the landfill on your own time, rather than waiting for a scheduled pickup appointment or bulk trash day.
You need to transport the mattress themselves, which will typically require a large vehicle. You 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.”
You can find local mattress recycling facilities using sites like Earth911, or research whether your city has a mattress recycling program. It’s also possible to break down a mattress by hand and recycle the parts — you can look for an instructional video on YouTube or an online guide like this one from Budget Dumpster.
Recycling your mattress is a responsible way to get rid of it, as this cuts down on the problem of landfill waste. You may be able to find a service to remove and recycle your mattress for free (if your area offers it) or a fee.
It’s not always easy to find a place to recycle your mattress. You can recycle your mattress by hand, but breaking down a mattress and sorting the parts can be time-consuming and take up a lot of space.
If your mattress is still in good shape, you 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.
You 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 you find a charity in your area that accepts mattress donations. National charities that may accept mattress donations include:
- The Salvation Army (call your local Salvation Army to check)
- The Furniture Bank Association
- Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI)
You will know you contributed to a family in need or a charity doing important work. If you donate the mattress to an organization, you can ask for a donation receipt and write off the value of your mattress in your taxes.
It’s not always simple to find a charity that takes mattress donations. Even if you do find a charity willing to accept your mattress, they may not offer pickup services, meaning you may be responsible for transporting the mattress yourself.
There are a few creative ways to reuse or “upcycle” your old mattress. If you take your mattress apart, you can use the parts in tons of different ways — for example, the springs could be used in your 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.
You are not contributing to landfill overflow, and you won’t need to organize for someone to pick up or recycle your mattress or transport it yourself. This might also save you the fees sometimes associated with disposal.
You typically have to break down the mattress yourself, which is time-intensive. You also still have to get rid of the parts you 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, you will find a model that is comfortable; does not overheat; has firm, supportive edges; properly supports your spine while you sleep, and is safe for the person sleeping on it. If you sleep with a partner or a pet, you may be particularly interested in motion isolation technology, so they are not disturbed by your movements during the night.
Figure out which mattress size makes the best sense for you.
Most retailers will give you the option of a Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, or California King size bed. To determine the right size for you, you should consider the size of your bedroom, your sleeping habits, whether you share a bed with pets or a partner, and so on. Once you have ascertained how firm or soft you would like your mattress and decided whether you like memory foam, innerspring coils, or a hybrid mattress, you can see what’s available in your 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 you do go with a brand that has a risk-free trial period, and you decide the mattress isn’t right for you within that period, then what happens next?
The answer depends on which company or retailer you worked with. For instance, Nectar, which offers a 365-night trial, will help you donate or dispose of your mattress locally. Saatva offers 120-day trials and will come to pick up the unwanted mattress and give you 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
Can you take a mattress to the dump?
You can take your old mattress to the dump, but it may cost a small fee. Also, it is not the most eco-friendly option because mattresses take a long time to break down and decompose.
Who will pick up old mattresses for free?
Many towns and municipalities offer free bulk trash pickup, but this is not always the case. You can also schedule for the Salvation Army or other charity to come to pick up the mattress.
Can I put a mattress out with the garbage?
In some areas, you can put your old mattresses on the curb for regular trash pickup. However, in most areas, you will have to wait for bulk trash pickup days.
When should I dispose of my old mattress?
If you wake up in pain with pain or a stuffy nose, it might be a sign that the old mattress has to go. Also, if you notice indentations or sagging in the mattress, it might be time for a new mattress.