10 Creative Uses for Old Mattresses

By: Danielle Fisher & Francisco Guzman  | 

Three mattresses leaning on a fence in the street.
There are better ways to dispose of your old mattress than tossing it in the trash. Aitor Diago/Getty Images

Have you ever traded in your old mattress for a new one? Many of us are guilty of using our mattresses way beyond their recommended lifespan. But if you consider everything your mattress absorbs over the years, you might be running to the store for a new one. In just 10 years' time, your mattress could double in weight due to the sweat, skin cells, dust mites and other debris it collects [source: Jio].

When you do purchase a new mattress, some stores will haul away your old one for free. But in today's world of green thinking and sustainability, you might wonder what happens to that old mattress once it leaves your home. Unfortunately, it will most likely end up in a landfill along with the other 20 million mattresses that get dumped there each year [source: Mattress Recycling Council]. So, does this mean you shouldn't replace your old mattress despite its old age or your related back problems? Not at all. But you should find a more creative way to dispose of your old mattress to keep it out of the landfill. For some inspiration, check out our 10 creative uses for your old mattress.

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10: Give It Away

One of the easiest ways to find a new use for your mattress and keep it out of a landfill is to give it away. You'd be surprised how many people might be in the market for a free mattress. Speak with your friends, co-workers, nieces or nephews headed to college, recent graduates or even post a message on a community board at your apartment or condo complex, or on a website like Nextdoor or Freecycle. The list of possible recipients is endless. Offer your free, gently used mattress in return for the new owner picking it up from your home.

If you can't think of anyone you know who might want a free mattress, you can turn to a recycler. Sites like ByeByeMattress offer recycling locators where you can find a mattress collection site or recycling facility near you. If you're feeling generous, you may even want to have it cleaned before giving it away. However, unless you're going to sell it or give it to an organization with rules about accepting mattresses, the responsibility for having it cleaned can fall on the new owner.

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9: Sell It

If you're looking to make a little extra cash, you might consider selling your mattress. In this case, you will definitely want to have your mattress professionally cleaned, which will cost you approximately $60 to $150 depending on the type of cleaning service you choose [source: Orr]. Once you've done so, post your mattress on Craigslist.com or another similar site. Be sure to include a photo showing your mattress is clean and free of stains and add a detailed description of how it's been cleaned and maintained to attract the most buyers.

You should also note the brand, a description of its firmness and other features, as well as the price you paid for it. Although you won't get anywhere close to the cost you put into the mattress, this helps build the legitimacy of your post. A second-hand shop in your community might also purchase your gently used mattress. Search for shops online and call ahead to make sure they purchase mattresses.

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8: Donate to a Charity

The Salvation Army, Furniture Bank and other charities may accept the donation of your used mattress, and if so, you'll get the added perk of being able to claim the donation as a deduction on your income taxes. This is not a sure bet for getting rid of your mattress, however. It must be free of stains in order to be accepted.

Additionally, many organizations (like Goodwill, for instance) won't accept mattresses no matter how well they've been maintained. You'll need to call your local donation center for more details, as these rules differ between charities and/or states. If you're lucky enough to find a center that accepts mattresses, be sure to ask them if they'll pick it up from your home, as some offer free home pickup for larger items.

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7: Create Art

If you're feeling particularly crafty, you could reuse your old mattress as a canvas for a new art project. As a whole or disassembled, a mattress provides large opportunity for creativity. You can browse the internet for ideas or give the mattress to an artist. Have you ever wanted a couch swing? What about an outdoor chandelier for your patio or to up your business decor. The possibilities are endless!

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6: Recycle It

Although the number of mattresses that end up in landfills is enough to cause alarm, the fact that they are made up of more than 75 percent recyclable materials makes that statistic even worse [sources: Mattress Recycling Council]. The problem with recycling mattresses is most recycling centers won't take them. Only those specifically design for mattresses will. What's worse is only a handful of mattress recycling facilities will pick them up for you, and almost all of them charge you a fee (usually around $40.00) to take the mattress off your hands [source: Fish].

If you're still interested in finding a recycling center near you, you can search by ZIP code at Earth911.com or view a list of centers in the United States and Canada on the ByeByeMattress website. Call before you take your mattress to any facility though, because many mattress recycling centers do not accept mattresses from the general public.

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5: Disassemble and Use the Parts

If you're crafty, you might want to disassemble your old mattress yourself instead of taking it to a recycling facility. There are many components that make up a mattress that could be useful to you. If you're a sewer or seamstress, you might be interested in the buttons or fabric from the mattress. The stuffing can be used for new pillows or even reupholstering furniture. If you're a craftsman, you might be interested in the wood from the frame for carpentry work or even in your next campfire. Even the metal springs can be used creatively for wine bottle holders or anything you can conjure up.

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4: Donate to a Shelter or Church

If you don't have any luck attempting to donate your old mattress to the Goodwill or Salvation Army, you may want to try donating it to a shelter or church. Homeless shelters, women's shelters or even disaster relief shelters may accept your donation of a professionally cleaned mattress. Churches might accept your clean mattress for a mission or other program that helps families in need. If you're unable to find a charity in your area, you may want to reach out to an organization like Donation Town that can help find a local charity in your area that will accept your mattress and may even be able to facilitate free pick up.

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3: Donate to a Pet Rescue Center

Humans aren't the only ones who can benefit from old mattresses. In addition to shelters for people in need, you may also want to check with local animal shelters. They could use your old mattress as beds for animals they've rescued who are awaiting adoption. A doggie day care or other similar businesses might also be interested in your old mattress. Call around to see who might take it off your hands.

Or, you can tap into your creative side and turn your mattress into an armchair. Animal shelters have requested armchairs after a video of a dog sitting on one of the comfortable chairs went viral. Again, you'll need to have the mattress professionally cleaned before donating. However, an animal shelter might not be as concerned about a stain, as long as they know the mattress is clean. Ask if they will send someone to your home to pick it up in exchange for getting it for free.

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2: Reuse for Children's Playtime

You may be able to reuse your mattress in your own backyard. If you have children, your old mattress might be the perfect protective layer for the bottom of a jungle gym. It might also be a creative substitute for that expensive trampoline your kids have been begging for. Remember when your little ones could play for hours with an old moving box, turning it into a fort or whatever their imagination conjured up? Your mattress could be anything your child imagines. Again, just be sure to have it professionally cleaned. Even if you think you've kept your mattress in tiptop condition, body sweat and dust mites, invisible to the naked eye, can cause illnesses [source: Mayo Clinic].

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1: Compost It

Mattress recycling is a great way to make an effort to be green and help the environment. But you can take it a step further and use your mattress to help you compost. Both the wood frame and the stuffing of the mattress can be used to create a compost pile in your backyard. The wood slats of the frame can be repurposed to create the actual bin for the compost, while the foam padding or cotton stuffing can be used as a cover to protect the compost from the elements and to keep the pile warm, which accelerates the composting process. You can even use stuffing from your mattress as landscape fabric to keep weeds out of your garden, and the springs as trellises for climbing plants.

Originally Published: May 10, 2011

Old Mattress FAQs

What happens when a mattress gets old?
Over the years, mattresses can actually become heavier because they collect dead skin cells, sweat and dust. Old sagging mattresses can also cause back problems.
What should you do with an old mattress?
You can: Donate it to a shelter, charity or pet rescue center; sell it; hand it over to a recycling reuse it to help children builds forts and such.
Are old mattresses recyclable?
Even though they are made using about 85-95 percent recyclable material, mattresses usually end up in landfills. Sadly, only recycling centers specifically dealing with mattresses will take them off your hands, with only a few of them offering to pick them up. Even if they do make such an offer, they usually charge to do so.
How do I dispose of a mattress?
One way of doing this is by donating it to the Salvation Army. They have a streamlined system through which they can take a mattress off your hands, and even pick it up.
Do homeless shelters take used mattresses?
Some, like the Salvation Army, may. But it must be in good condition without any stains. It's best to call the shelter in advance to find out.

Lots More Information

Related Articles

  • Donation Town "Donate a Mattress." (May 1, 2011) http://www.donationtown.org/news/donate-a-mattress.html
  • Earth911.com. "Need Help Recycling? Search for a Recycling Solution Below." (April 24, 2011) https://search.earth911.com/?utm_source=earth911-header
  • Fish, Bill. "How to Dispose of a Mattress." Sleep Foundation. July 28, 2020. (April 25, 2021) https://www.sleepfoundation.org/mattress-information/mattress-disposal-guide
  • Jio, Sarah. "Fact or Fiction: Mattresses Doubling in Weight From Dust Mites." June 5, 2009. (April 29, 2011) http://www.glamour.com/health-fitness/blogs/vitamin-g/2009/06/fact-or-fiction-mattresses-dou.html
  • Mayo Clinic. "Dust mite allergy." (April 25, 2021). https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dust-mites/symptoms-causes/syc-20352173
  • Mattress Recycling Council. "Why Recycle." (April 23, 2021) https://mattressrecyclingcouncil.org/why-recycle/
  • Orr, Dacey. "Best Mattress Cleaning Services." The Spruce. April 15, 2021. (April 23, 2021) https://www.thespruce.com/best-mattress-cleaning-services-5094136
  • "Rhode Island Plan Approved." Mattress Recycling Council. Jan. 25, 2016. (April 23, 2021) https://mattressrecyclingcouncil.org/rhode-island-plan-approved/

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