Is It Gross to Get a Used Mattress?

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Considering buying a secondhand mattress to save money but not sure about sleeping on a used bed? Then you’re in the right place! Read on below to learn everything you need to know about secondhand beds. By the end of this article, you should know whether a used or new mattress is the right fit for you.

Is it Illegal to Sell a Used Mattress?

First off, you’ll want to make sure you’re buying your secondhand bed from a legitimate seller. Many states have laws about selling used beds, and most require people selling old mattresses to disinfect them and use special red and yellow tags to identify them as used. But some states have banned selling used mattresses altogether. Whether it’s legal to sell a used mattress depends on your state’s laws. As a quick guide, it is illegal for anyone to sell a used mattress in Kansas. It’s illegal for retailers, but not individuals, to sell used beds in Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, and Washington. It is legal for anyone to sell a used bed in other states, but as mentioned above, most state laws require sanitization and clear labeling.

Should You Get a Used Mattress?

Whether or not you should get a used mattress depends on your situation. If you know the previous owner personally and are fairly certain they’re giving you a good deal on a clean, high-quality mattress, we say go for it! Purchasing a used bed from a friend or family member who is moving or upgrading to a larger size can be a good way to save money.

On the other hand, we would recommend being cautious about buying a secondhand bed on craigslist or from a thrift store. Buying a bed from one of these sellers (even one in good condition) increases your risk of a bed bug infestation. Plus, you might be able to find a new bed for a budget price that will last you much longer than a used mattress. Check out our best cheap mattresses article for a few options! You can also consider waiting for an annual mattress sale to get a new bed without a hefty price tag. Check out our finding the best mattress sales article to learn when most mattress sellers offer the best deals.

Pros of Buying a Used Mattress

  • Buying a used mattress can be much cheaper than buying a new bed. If mattress cost is your main concern, buying secondhand might be the way to go.
  • A secondhand mattress is an eco-friendly option, and prevents mattresses in good condition from being sent to the landfill.

Cons of Buying a Used Mattress

  • Buying a used mattress increases your risk of bed bugs, scabies, and dust mites.
  • Used mattresses do not come with warranties. You’re also unlikely to get a trial period or return window if you purchase a used bed.
  • Used mattresses have shorter lifespans than new beds. You may need to replace a used bed after just a couple of years. On the other hand, if you’re using a secondhand mattress in a guest room, the shorter lifespan might not be an issue.

What to Look for When Buying a Used Mattress

If you’ve decided to buy a used bed, there are a few things you’ll want to look out for. First off, if you’re purchasing from a mattress store or retailer, look for refurbished mattresses. These used beds have been thoroughly cleaned and sanitized, so are often the best options when buying secondhand.

Next, you’ll want to check your mattress for any structural issues. If you notice any sagging or divots in the sleep surface, opt for a different bed. Noticeable indentations can lead to back pain, and indicate that the bed is already very worn out. If you really like a particular bed that is looking a little worn out, a mattress topper could help address some minor wear and tear (but it won’t fix any major structural issues). If you’re buying used, you might also want to opt for a latex, innerspring, or hybrid mattress. These beds last longer than memory foam mattresses, so you may get a few more years of use out of them even though they’re secondhand.

You’ll also want to check your mattress for any noticeable stains. Mattresses are difficult to clean, so can collect bodily fluids and dead skin cells over time. You should also smell the mattress you’re considering! Mildew, smoke, and mold have a distinct odor, so make sure your new-to-you bed doesn’t smell musty and unpleasant before purchasing. If you do buy a used mattress, you should purchase a new mattress protector. This is a great way to stay sanitary, and if you purchase a bedbug proof protector it can prevent a used bed from creating an infestation in your home.

Speaking of bedbugs, the last thing you’ll need to do is check your used mattress for signs of bedbugs before purchasing it. Do not put it in your car or bring it home without checking! Bedbug infestations can be very difficult to treat, so the best thing you can do is be extra cautious about introducing any bugs. To inspect a bed for bed bugs, check for rusty red stains or tiny dark spots, which can indicate blood or droppings. Then, flip the bed over and inspect the corners and seams for any live bugs, which are about the size of an apple seed. Next, look for tiny eggs and eggshells. These will be white or clear and the size of a poppy seed. Finally, check for any shed skins, which will be pale yellow. If you see any signs of bedbugs, don’t purchase the mattress.

How to Clean a Used Mattress

Have a used mattress at home and need to know how to clean it? Check out our how to clean your mattress article for an in-depth sanitizing guide. As a quick overview, the first thing you should do is mist the mattress with bleach free disinfectant. Blot it in with a damp cloth and then let your mattress dry. After that, you can use the guide above to tackle any stains you might have on your new bed. Finally, make sure to get a mattress protector or mattress cover if you’re using a secondhand mattress.


Can you sell a used mattress?

It depends on where you live. You can sell a used mattress in most states, but will need to adhere to certain sanitizing and labeling guidelines. You can not sell a used mattress if you live in Kansas.

What should you do with a used mattress?

You can try donating or selling your used mattress if it is still in good shape. If it is really worn out, the best thing to do is schedule a large trash pickup or bring your bed to a recycling facility. Check out our how to get rid of your old mattress article for more specifics. 

Can I recycle a used mattress?

Yes, you can recycle a used mattress. Our mattress recycling guide can walk you through how to do it!

Madison Schaper

Madison is an ex-mattress tester and current law student. When she's not studying, she puts her accumulated mattress and bedding knowledge to good use writing articles for Mattress Clarity. A few of her favorite non-work activities include trying new restaurants, reading short stories, and watching too much reality TV.