Are you trying to maintain a sustainable lifestyle when getting rid of consumer products? Some like electronics are tougher to recycle than aluminum cans, plastic bottles, and sheets of paper. Old mattresses can be another difficulty. Dropping them off curbside or at dumpsites where they can form flammable air pockets aren’t the most eco-friendly options.

Recycling mattresses is one of the many ways that humans can reduce waste and produce a smaller carbon footprint. The good news is up to 90% of mattresses are recyclable, according to The Sleep Foundation. You can take some basic steps to recycle bed pads, so they don’t produce carbon emissions while rotting away in landfills.

Why Recycle Old Mattresses?

Since mattresses are generally more difficult to recycle than other consumer goods, you might understandably wonder why you should consider taking that step. In fact, the United States alone tosses over 18 million used mattresses every year.

Textiles: A Huge Polluter

Textiles are one of the world’s largest sources of pollution, which is really some shocking waste generation and recycling statistics. While old clothes and bed sheets are relatively easy to reuse, the process is more complex with others like old mattresses. This explains why many mattresses end up in places like landfills and alleys.

One Catch-22 is that more wealth in developed countries has caused the demand for items like mattresses to spike. This has caused mattress makers to develop new synthetic materials that are easy to mass-produce. It’s another reason to know which mattress you should consider when maintaining factors like sustainability, support, and comfort.

When consumers toss eco-unfriendly mattresses, this exponentially increases the amount of household hazardous waste (HHW) produced by homes, cities/towns, and nations.

Some Unique Problems

Mattresses provide some unique issues from many other textiles. For example, they’re big, bulky, and difficult to compact. While landfills aren’t the most “green” way to get rid of mattresses, these challenges make it less practical than other options like plant compost.

Another factor is many materials used to make mattresses aren’t easy to recycle. This includes:

  • Cotton
  • Wood
  • Steel

In fact, it might be surprising, but the only material that’s easy to recycle is polyurethane foam. You can still have some practical options to recycle and reuse your old mattresses.

Option #1: Break Down the Mattress Materials

This will require the tools, time, and space to do it properly. However, if you have these resources then you can break down the mattress yourself. This allows you to recycle or reuse many of the materials used to manufacture mattresses.

You’ll need the following tools:

  • Saw
  • Bolt cutter/Wire clippers
  • Pliers
  • Utility knife
  • Box cutter
  • Boxes (store loose parts)
  • Durable gloves
  • Goggles


Here are the steps for breaking down the mattress:

Step #1: Remove the cord from the mattress edges – Use a utility knife to remove the piping thread. Remove the thread from every side of the mattress.

Step #2: Remove side panels – Cutting off the side panels is important but could be a little difficult. Rip or cut the materials enough so you can remove the binding cords and side panels.

Step #3: Remove the top & bottom layers – This is a simple and fast yet important step. Watch out for any staples you’ll also need to remove. Remove the fabric until the memory foam or cotton padding is visible.

Step #4: Sort the mattress’s internal layers and fabric – Make sure to wear gloves for this step. Collect all the fabric and inner filling and prepare it for recycling or reusing. Figure out which materials can be recycled and which materials you could reuse.

Step #5: Cut the metal springs – Make sure you use the wire cutters and gloves for safety. Remove the fabric, then slice the spring into tinier parts. You can use them for various purposes.


Option #2: Return the Mattress to the Manufacturer

Today over 50,000 mattresses get thrown out in the U.S. alone, according to BedTimes Mag. When you purchase a new mattress, one option you have is to request if the manufacturer will accept your old mattress.

Why would manufacturers take this step? Today, more consumers are living a green lifestyle, so they’re willing to take steps to cater to their customers’ lifestyles. This could also save the company money since it would reduce how much money it shells out for raw materials.

Mattress retailers also could have a buyback program. Meanwhile, some states require mattress manufacturers to collect a disposal fee that supports mattress recycling programs. It’s worth researching whether your state’s Mattress Recycling Council implements such a law.

Option #3: Donate or Advertise the Mattress as “Free”

This includes ones like Craig’s List. There’s a good chance you can find someone who’s willing to receive a free mattress. It’s most likely they’ll reuse it instead of recycling it, but in both cases, it’s more eco-friendly than taking the mattress to a local landfill.

Another option is to donate the mattress to a local charity. You can give your mattress to an organization like the Red Cross, which can then use the funds for a good cause.

If your mattress is in really bad shape, an alternative is to donate it to a local animal shelter. The mattress provides a soft and warm place for cats and dogs to lie on until they find a forever home.



Option #4: Give Mattress Materials to Recyclers

Recycling companies can often repurpose mattress materials for other functions. This includes materials used for the following purposes.

  • Steel: New metal products
  • Wood: Biofuel and other functions
  • Quilting/Foam: Carpet underlay
  • Cotton/Felt: New felt/insulation

Option #5: Find a Specialized Recycling Program

This could include one in your city or town, for example. Some municipalities run recycling programs so you can donate them directly to the state. If they don’t have a mattress recycling program, they can help to connect you to a local recycler.

The most eco-friendly options include the “3Rs.” However, your city might provide curb-side pick-up for used mattresses. This will help to make sure the mattress gets disposed of properly and possibly recycled.


Recycling household items like old mattresses is part of the process of being responsible citizens and conservationists of the world’s limited natural resources. Key recycling information includes this fact: Every year, humans are now consuming more natural resources than the Earth produces. Taking steps to recycle mattresses is just one of the ways to reduce HHW and live a more sustainable lifestyle.


Bio: Brett is a writer at ID-Mag. An enthusiast and expert when it comes to sleep products, Brett dedicates a lot of his time reading, researching, and reviewing about both traditional and emerging sleep brands that manufacture varied types of sleep products – from eco-mattresses, smart pillows to cooling sleep systems, Brett has probably reviewed them all. Brett also finds sleep especially important since he juggles a small business which he runs from home, makes sure he spends time with his daughter and he also writes during his spare time – you can definitely see that he needs a great forty winks all night, every night so he’ll make sure that you get great sleep, too!

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