Last Updated on January 26, 2023 by Sandra Allens

Leesa and Casper mattresses sometimes find another life after the trial period, whether that’s donating the used mattress to someone in need or recycling it into something soft and squishy. It is sad to report that used mattresses are still disposed of in large numbers today. Charity organizations do not take them because of bedbug infestations, and recycling is too expensive to be widespread. There aren’t even recycling programs in most states.

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For my guide to online mattresses for Reinierdejong’s, I have had to throw away nearly twenty mattresses throughout the past two years. Due to their trial period and the fact that they require customers to send their mattress back, they donate unwanted mattresses to charity. Then again, sometimes things don’t go as planned. Currently, I am assisting Hurricane Maria survivors in Buffalo, New York. Over the years, I have tried and given to more than a dozen local charities; however, only one has helped me.

Currently, the Mattress Recycling Council administers mattress recycling programs in Rhode Island, Connecticut, and California.

Mattresses shouldn’t go into landfills, but if the company is unable to assist, find a charity on your own. The Furniture Bank Association is a good place to start. Don’t forget to look for nonprofits that offer shelter and resettlement services. Alternately, you can ask your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram contacts if they know about any groups or families in need. Some online mattress sellers will even accept donations for refunds as a valid mode of return.

How to Tell if a Used Mattress Is Good Enough to Donate

A donated used mattress must meet the standards set by each charity, organization, and shelter. Nevertheless, there are some general guidelines:

  • Infestations. Infested mattresses, particularly those with a severe infestation, should not be donated. If you find bedbugs, mold, or other infestations in your mattress, even if you clean it on the surface, you’ll often find that they’re deeply embedded. Mattresses that have been infested should be considered unsuitable for donation after being thrown out.
  • Problems with the structure. A mattress can become unusable if its coils are bent, broken, or jutting. Most of these issues will be visible to the naked eye since they have been causing you pain. A mattress that is affected by wear and tear will also require repairs to make it suitable for passing on to another person. This includes excessive sagging, irregular bunching, and large, permanent indentations.
  • A tear, a rip, or a hole. If the used mattress has extensive rips, tears, or holes, do not donate it. There are also unraveled seams and large holes, as well as unraveled seams causing gashes. Before donating, it’s also essential to make sure the mattress cover is securely attached.
  • Stains. It is not advisable to donate mattresses that are stained. Stains of all sizes and visible discolorations over time are included in the list. If you have stains or spots on your mattress, you can use the following tips to remove them with DIY cleaning.
    • Vacuum. If you vacuum the top and sides of a mattress (along with any other crumbs or bits on your mattress), you can remove pet hair, dander, and human skin. A hand-held vacuum is usually better suited for this task, but you can also use a regular vacuum for this.
    • Spot Clean. The best solution for staining on a mattress is to spot clean it. This can be accomplished in several ways. The stain will be chemically removed by using an enzyme cleaner that is non-toxic. Baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and liquid dish soaps should be mixed with liquid dish soap. Combining lemon juice and salt together until the mixture is thick and applying that mixture to the stain, is another option. Spray the mixture onto the stains and then blot them with a clean, wet rag. Remove the old paint with a clean rag after 45 minutes to an hour.

Is Recycling Used Mattresses a Good Idea?

How to Recycle a Mattress

Instead of throwing away your old mattress, you should be able to recycle it if you live in a place where recycling is possible. Through the Mattress Recycling Council’s Bye Bye Mattress, you can locate recycling facilities or drop-off points near you. It may surprise you, however, when the nearest drop-off point is across a state or out of state.

Used Mattress recycling is easier in some states than others. To ensure that all these elements are balanced, the materials’ prices, labor required to extract them, [the fee for collecting them] and logistics associated with moving them all have to be perfectly aligned. MRC programs for mattress recycling make this process easier. That includes the recycling-friendly states of California and Rhode Island. In order to operate these programs, a $9 to $16 fee is levied at point of purchase that funds drop-off sites, transportation, and eventual recycling of used mattresses. A mattress can be dropped off in 33 locations on the Island, versus one place in all of upstate New York. Mattresses from Casper, Leesa, and Tuft & Needle are easy to recycle in these states, according to their representatives.

In those three states, 1 million used mattresses were recycled between 2015 and 2017. MRC estimates there are 20 million used mattresses thrown out every year, so there’s an impressive 11 million cubic feet saved in landfill space.

John Hannon, president and founder of Triad, says it is difficult to get used mattresses to recyclers due to their packaging and the resale profits are unpredictable. I was curious to see how mattresses are recycled and what happens to them after they are recycled after I ran across a mattress recycling facility in New York State.

President and founder of Triad, John Hannon, explained that vehicles are tough to transport to recycling companies and that recycling profits are not predictable. The initial cost of transporting and processing mattresses is extremely high. Since wood and steel, which are used in traditional mattress construction, are easier to recycle than foam, profits could be even more of a problem as foam becomes more popular. As more companies copy the direct-shipping, trial period-style of online-only companies, more used mattresses end up in the waste stream after being returned during 100-night trial periods. Foam can fluctuate by as much as 100 percent, which makes it unprofitable for him to recycle foam until price levels on oil and carpet demand are high. Some days are easy, and other days you have to plead with them to take it.

used mattress

Consider donating a good mattress to a shelter, resettlement organization, or assistance organization.

A used mattress cannot be converted into a marketable item without a lot of effort. Several of the workers at Triad are South Asian and African refugees who shred the mattresses into component parts. They are composed of foam, fabric, and coils of spring steel for older box springs. A utility knife is used to slice mattress covers in a similar manner to filleting a fish. It is then shredded, ground, and recombined for carpet padding underlay by carpet manufacturers after being loaded into a baler for compacting. Despite its many uses, textiles have little market. Much of it is shredded and used as cleaning materials, yet most of it ends up in landfills or is still burned for energy. Box springs and mattress springs with traditional springs require more work, but they yield more high-quality materials. When crowbars or skid-steer loader teeth are used to remove steel coils from wood frames, they then are sold as scrap. Landscaping uses wood mulch.

It is a simple matter of paying for the disposal of used mattresses in areas that have municipal waste handlers, and being inconvenienced by such disposal. Foam, wood, and metal coils in landfills cause waste shredders to jam and float to the top, causing workers to be injured. By adding the real cost of handling mattresses, waste firms may lose business. The generally dispose of them in landfills, Hannon said, but sometimes they bring them to Triad when feasible. Used Mattresses are often thrown out on the curb for free by residents. Politicians are unwilling to impose a fee on residents, which perpetuates this issue.