When you have decided to replace your old mattress, it can be difficult to know what to do with it. Because mattresses are such large items, it takes more time and effort to dispose of them. In a landfill, mattresses take on average 23 cubic feet of space and depending on the material will take up to 120 years to fully decompose.
While millions of mattresses are still dumped in landfills in Canada every year, there are much better ways to get rid of your old mattress. Ways that are cheap, easy, and socially and environmentally responsible.
In this article, we go over the different options you have when disposing of an old mattress in Canada. While disposal options will vary depending on location, in most parts of Canada, you will find alternatives to landfills for disposing of your old mattress.
The Mattress is Still in Good Condition
You may be able to give your old mattress away if it is still in a usable condition. This includes mattresses that are no older than eight years and are free of insects and bed bugs. They should also be free of mold and not used in a home where there are smokers or cats. In addition, the mattress needs to be smell and stain-free, with no or very limited discoloration.
Generally speaking, giving your mattress away may be a viable option if you are getting rid of it for other reasons than it being old and unsupportive. For example, if you have a child who has outgrown their bed, or you are downsizing or upgrading to a smaller or larger bed for yourself.
Below you will find suggestions on what to do with an unwanted mattress that is still in good condition. You should keep in mind that the suggestions may not apply at all times and to all organisations.
For example, if a charity or furniture bank already has mattresses in stock, they may not be accepting any more at the present. Some charities may also lack the space to store mattresses, so always contact the organisation before taking your mattress over to them.
Donating Your Mattress to a Charity or Non-Profit Organisation
In Canada, there are many charitable organisations that accept old mattresses provided that they are still in usable condition. Many charities will accept mattresses that are clean and in good condition. However, always check with your local charities if they are able to take your mattress.
If you find a local charitable organisation that is happy to accept your old mattress, you may be able to get rid of it for the price of petrol. If you are not able to take it there yourself, check if the charity does collections or arrange for a pick up with a delivery company. This is likely to cost up to $100 but you can offset the cost with a charitable receipt.
The types of charities and non-profits that are likely to accept used mattresses include homeless shelters, crisis centres, transitional housing, group homes, religious organisations, and thrift stores. They will either give the mattress to someone in need or sell it to fund their operations.
However, it may be difficult to find a charity that will accept a mattress that has been in regular use for several years. This is because there has been an increase in donations from online-only mattress companies that offer customers at-home sleep trials. Generally, any mattresses that are returned to the companies, are donated to charitable organisations.
Donating to a Furniture Bank
If you cannot find a local charity or non-profit that will take your mattress, you may be able to give it to a local furniture bank. The cost of donating to a furniture bank ranges from nothing to around $150, depending if you can drop it off yourself or if they need to collect it.
Furniture banks are charitable social enterprises that redistribute used furniture and houseware that is still in good, usable condition. The items are given to individuals and families who are not able to furnish their homes themselves.
People who may receive a mattress and other items from furniture banks include people living below the poverty line or fleeing domestic violence, new refugee families, and those leaving a shelter or transitional housing.
Many furniture banks will handle the whole process from pick up to delivery. They will inspect the mattress and carry out any minor repairs before delivering it to a new home. You will get a charitable donation receipt from the furniture bank. The values of the donation receipts are usually predetermined and non-negotiable.
Note that not all provinces and territories have furniture banks. You are more likely to find furniture banks in the more populated provinces such as Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, and Alberta.
Listing It on an Online Marketplace
If there are no charitable organisations or furniture banks in your local area, you could try giving the mattress away for free. For example, you could use Facebook’s Marketplace or Kijiji. It will not cost you anything to list the mattress and you might find a new owner who is able to pick it up so you save on transport, too.
If your mattress is still fairly new and in excellent condition, you could try to sell it at a low price. It could be perfect, for example, for a student who is looking to make their money go as far as possible, and furnishing their home with new items is not an option. Just ensure you describe it accurately and include plenty of good pictures so people can see its condition.
The Mattress Is Not in Good Condition
If your mattress is older than eight years or has rips, tears, or exposed coils, it is no longer in a usable condition. Most charitable organisations or people looking for a bargain mattress would also pass a mattress that is stained or discoloured or smells of smoke, urine, or mildew.
When your mattress is not in a usable condition and you cannot donate or resell it, you still have alternative options to a landfill. What options are available for you will again depend on where you live. Areas with bigger populations are more likely to have a wider range of services.
You may be able to find a mattress recycling centre in your area. Most recycling centres will charge a small fee for recycling your mattress, which is usually below $30. You can either choose to drop it off yourself or get the centre to pick it up. The pickup charge generally ranges from $50 to $100.
Most mattresses can be broken and separated into recyclable raw materials. Depending on the type of mattress, between 75% and 99% of it can be recycled. For example, foam mattresses can be shredded and used as pet bedding, carpet padding, and car headrests, while metal springs from innerspring and hybrid beds are melted and reused. Recycling also reduces energy usage and the use of new and natural resources.
Junk Removal Companies
If you do not have the time to find a charity or recycling centre that will take your mattress, you can hire a junk removal company to do it for you. It is likely to cost you a little more, up to around $200 depending on the size of the mattress. However, they will not only collect the mattress but will also assess if it is still usable and find a charity or a recycling centre for it.
When using a junk removal company, choose one with a good reputation. That way you can be confident that they do their job properly rather than simply take the mattress to a landfill.
DIY Repurposing and Recycling
If your mattress is no longer usable but it is bed bug, dustmite, mold, and mildew free, you could repurpose it yourself. You can take the mattress apart and reuse or sell the materials. For example, you could use the foam as bedding for pets or sell the metal coils as scrap. Parts you cannot repurpose are then easier to dispose of than a whole mattress.
What if the Mattress Cannot be Reused or Recycled?
Unfortunately, there are times when the mattress cannot be given away or even recycled. This could be the case if it, for example, has been infested by insects or bed bugs or it is moldy. A moldy or infested mattress could be a health hazard and needs to be disposed of carefully.
To dispose of the mattress wrap it in plastic sheeting and seal it to prevent the infestation or mold from spreading. Once you have prepared the mattress, you can arrange for an oversized waste pickup, which is likely to cost up to $15. Alternatively, you could take it to a landfill or depot yourself. The cost ranges between $15 and $30 per load or item.
If you have no other alternative but to throw the mattress into a landfill, check the rules and regulations for disposing of large items such as mattresses in your area. This will ensure you are disposing of it correctly as incorrect disposal could result in a fine.
Choosing a New Mattress
When you are looking for a new mattress, there are other things to consider besides how to get rid of your old mattress.
The Type of Mattress
Different types of mattresses include innerspring, foam, and hybrid mattresses. Innerspring mattresses have more bounce, foam mattresses have more contouring, and hybrid mattresses combine the qualities of both.
Benefits of innerspring mattresses include better airflow, while drawbacks include limited motion isolation. For best motion isolation choose a pocket coil mattress if you prefer innerspring mattresses to foam. Benefits of foam mattresses include excellent pressure relief, but they can feel hot unless you choose a cooling mattress.
You need to choose the right firmness level for your weight and preferred sleeping positions. Most Canadians will be comfortable with a medium mattress. However, petite sleepers may prefer a softer mattress and people weighing over 105 kg should look for mattresses suitable for heavy sleepers.
If you prefer to sleep on your side, you will need a softer mattress for better contouring and pressure relief. Back and stomach sleepers need a firmer mattress which will prevent the mid-section from sinking into the mattress too much.
Whatever your budget is, you can find a mattress that suits you from the wide selection of mattresses available in Canada. You will have your pick from cheap to luxury mattresses. And cheap does not need to mean compromising on quality as this selection of cheap mattresses in Canada shows.
When you are getting a new mattress and need to dispose of your old one, consider alternative options to landfills. Mattresses can take up to 120 years to compose in a landfill depending on the mattress type.
You may be able to donate your mattress or even sell it for a low price if it is still in great condition. Mattresses that are no longer in usable condition can often be recycled and the materials repurposed. Always look into your local options for more environmentally friendly disposal and use landfills only as the last resort.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, mattresses can be recycled. In fact, up to 99% of mattress materials are recyclable depending on the type of mattress.
There are charities in Canada that will accept used mattresses provided that they are still in good condition. Before you donate a mattress to a charity, always check first in case there are not currently accepting mattresses.
It is possible to get rid of an old mattress for free or it might cost you around $200. The cost depends on the disposal method. For example, using a junk removal company is likely to cost you upwards of $100, while giving to a charity might not cost you anything.