Don’t Just Throw out Your Old Bed. 8 Ways to Properly Dispose of It

Once you get a new bed, you’re stuck with an old one to get rid of. From recycling programs to local charities, these are the top eight ways to dispose of it.

KJ Callihan
KJ Callihan is a freelance writer with a background in mental health and education. Her writing often covers product reviews and lists, animals and pet care, food and hospitality, health, wellness, and culture. When she isn't crafting the perfect sentence, you may find her bingeing true crime documentaries, browsing mid-Michigan farmer's markets, and tasting her son's latest homemade cuisine
KJ Callihan
5 min read
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Around 55,000 mattresses are discarded daily in the US, less than 20% of which are recycled. Nearly 20 million mattresses are dumped in landfills each year, where they take up significant amounts of space and decompose for hundreds of years, potentially releasing harmful chemicals into the environment. Memory foam mattresses may even take up to 1,000 years to decompose completely.

What's the right way to get rid of a mattress? The answer can be tricker than it should be.

Some charities aren't allowed to accept used mattresses due to health department regulations or concerns over bed bugs. Certain recycling programs have become less profitable and subsequently less available. A few states don't have recycling programs at all. Plus, since foam fluctuates wildly in its profitability, certain popular online mattress brands offering 100-plus-night trial periods don't always stick to their promise of recycling or donating returned mattresses, which is a claim that potential customers may view as a good reason for purchasing. 

There are sustainable options when it's time to get rid of your old mattress, depending on its condition and where you live. Read on to learn about eight eco-friendly ways to dispose of your old bed to make room for your new one. 

Read more: Best Mattresses on the Market

1. Free mattress recycling programs

Some states have free mattress recycling programs available. For example, in California, Connecticut and Rhode Island, the Mattress Recycling Council runs a mattress recycling program called ByeByeMattress, and statewide laws allow households to drop off old mattresses and box springs at collection sites free of charge (fees are paid at the time of sale). 

You can also use ByeByeMattress or other search engines like Earth911 to locate a mattress recycling spot. This interactive map shows over 100 mattress recycling centers nationwide. 


Mattress recycling programs vary by city and state.

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Some cities offer full-service recycling centers where you can drop off almost anything. If you have more than just a mattress to drop off, or the mattress is too large or heavy for you to move, you may be able to arrange a pickup from your home. Some city and county governments will pick up bulky items (like mattresses) curbside upon request, although these may or may not be part of a recycling program. 

City recycling programs may charge a fee for dropping off mattresses or box springs. You may need to make an appointment to drop off your mattress.

2. Some mattress brands will pick up

Are you having a new mattress delivered? In states like California, your retailer is required to take your old mattress back when they deliver a new one to you, as long as it's in acceptable condition. Be sure to read the fine print when purchasing your mattress so you know what kind of delivery and old mattress removal arrangements you're paying for. 

3. Local charities and shelters

Charities and organizations may be interested in gently used mattresses in good condition. A few options to consider include:

4. Giveaway groups

You can also check your area for a giveaway group, like the Freecycle Network. Not finding any in your town? There's likely something similar even if it goes by a different name (one of our town's local networks is called "Freely Offered and Freely Given," for example), so try a combination of different search terms before you give up. You can also list your mattress on your city's Craigslist under the free stuff category, in local Buy Nothing groups, on NextDoor or on the free stuff page on Facebook Marketplace


Check with local organizations or online community groups before taking your mattress to the dump.

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5. Area businesses

Check with local businesses to see if they might be interested in a gently used mattress. It doesn't hurt to call area residential facilities, hotels, hostels, hospitals, universities or other establishments that invite or allow people to stay overnight. 

6. Take the mattress apart yourself and recycle

If you can't find a recycling or donation site for your old mattress, consider taking it apart and recycling the components yourself. Once disassembled, up to 85% of the components can be recycled or repurposed. For example, you could take out the metal springs or coils in the mattress and bring them in for scrap recycling (you may even be paid a small amount for it). You could also take the foam to a facility that will shred it to make new memory foam or other products. Wooden frames, as well as any natural or synthetic fabrics used, may also be recyclable. 

Before you start hacking up your mattress, it's probably a good idea to consult a DIY site to get full details on how to disassemble your mattress. It's no easy task, and the pros can show you how to streamline the process.

7. Crafting and upcycling

If you're creative or thrifty, upcycling or repurposing an old mattress might be a great option. If you can't think of anything to make with yours, browse through Pinterest, where you're bound to get inspired by someone's crafty upcycle ideas.


Creative repurposing can turn old mattresses into new furniture, holiday decorations or even works of art.

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A few fun upcycling ideas include:

  • Garden or outdoor decor (may be particularly useful for metal coils or springs)
  • Wine racks or bottle holders
  • Pet beds
  • Bookshelf or other shelving
  • Kitchen racks
  • Bird feeders
  • Christmas or holiday ornaments/decor
  • Repurposed foam or fabrics, e.g., shredded for insulation

8. As a last resort, you can trash it

Finally, if there's nothing else left to try, you can probably throw the old mattress out with the rest of the trash or have it hauled away. This may or may not require a fee and/or advance arrangements. Check local, state or city ordinances for any specific rules for mattress disposal in your area. If not done properly, you may end up getting handed a ticket or fine, so be sure to do your research before leaving your mattress on the curb.

Some places require you to wrap your mattress tightly in plastic, while others ask that you use a specially crafted mattress bag. There are likely specific days when you can put large items curbside for trash pickup. Private waste removal services can also help you. You'll need to contact each one to get their rates, which vary significantly.

If you’re in the market for a new mattress and are concerned about what will happen to it in the long run, consider buying one made of renewable and eco-friendly materials, such as certified latex rubber and organic cotton and wool. Avocado, Brentwood Home, Saatva, Birch, Nest Bedding and My Green Mattress are a few examples of brands with green initiatives that focus on environmental responsibility and manufacture more sustainable beds.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.