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Are you wondering whether you can put a mattress in a dumpster? The quick answer is, it depends. Local regulations and dumpster rental company rules may restrict or allow you to put a mattress in a dumpster. This article goes through what you need to know about proper mattress disposal, including the legalities, environmental considerations, and alternative disposal methods.

Key Takeaways

  • Local regulations and dumpster company policies significantly impact the ability to dispose of a mattress in a dumpster, emphasizing the need to consult specific guidelines when discarding old mattresses.

  • Alternatives to dumping include recycling the mattress through local programs or donating to centers that accept mattresses in good condition, each of which offers environmentally responsible solutions.

  • Mattresses pose environmental challenges if not disposed of properly, with a large percentage ending up in landfills and causing space occupancy and decomposition issues due to their bulky nature and materials.

Is It Permissible to Place a Mattress in a Dumpster?

Dumpster with various items including mattresses

The simple act of disposing of an old mattress becomes less straightforward when you factor in local regulations and dumpster company policies. The rules regarding placing a mattress in a dumpster differ significantly from one municipality to another, due to varying local regulations on unwanted mattress disposal. Therefore, it’s advisable to consult local guidelines to understand the specifics in your area.

Failing to understand your local regulations is not the only potential pitfall. Dumpster company policies also influence the disposal methods of your old mattress. Even if local regulations permit it, these companies might have unique restrictions or guidelines for mattress disposal at a local landfill. This emphasizes the importance of doing your homework before you attempt to dispose of your old mattress.

Understanding Your Local Waste Management Policies

Being familiar with your local waste management policies can help avoid unnecessary fines or penalties. Given that these policies differ by state and city, it’s advisable to review the regulations that apply to your specific location. Information regarding local waste management policies for unwanted mattress disposal can be accessed by visiting the EPA website, which offers regulatory information about waste, including hazardous waste, solid waste, or garbage, and maintains a list of state and local waste characterization studies.

It’s worth noting that there are designated areas where it is prohibited to discard a mattress in a dumpster. For instance, regions such as California, Rhode Island, and Connecticut have enacted mattress recycling regulations, rendering it unlawful to dispose of a mattress in a dumpster within those locales. This reinforces the need for awareness of your local waste management policies when disposing of your old mattress.

Potential Consequences of Illegal Dumping

The repercussions of illegally discarding a mattress are more severe than you might expect. They include incurring fines, facing penalties, and causing environmental harm. Furthermore, leaving a mattress on the sidewalk can lead to a host of problems such as potential exposure to urine, spreading of bed bugs, attraction of cockroaches, and potential fire hazards if not promptly removed.

Illegal mattress dumping can have a significant financial impact. Fines differ greatly across jurisdictions, and in some areas, they can exceed $3,000, escalating for repeat offenses. Additionally, violators may incur additional expenses for cleanup and legal proceedings. This underscores the importance of understanding and adhering to local regulations concerning mattress disposal.

Alternatives to Dumpster Disposal for Your Old Mattress

Recycling center for mattresses

If navigating local waste management regulations seems daunting, you’ll be relieved to know that there are alternatives to dumpster disposal for your old mattress. These include recycling and donating your old mattress, both of which offer an eco-friendly solution to mattress disposal.

Recycling your old mattress is a win-win situation for both your wallet and the environment, as it keeps your mattress out of the landfill and allows for the reuse of its components like foam, metals, and fabrics. However, this option might come with a nominal recycling fee, with additional costs if pick-up services are required.

Mattress Recycling Options

Local recycling centers and programs are available options for mattress recycling. Some mattress retailers may also be partnered with a recycling program, which can be advantageous if there are no nearby recycling centers. In such cases, it’s worth checking if they are affiliated with the Mattress Recycling Council.

The process of recycling a mattress involves the following steps:

  1. Check with the local recycling center for acceptance.

  2. Deconstruct the mattress into various components.

  3. Bail the components together.

  4. Send them to recycling plants for transformation into new products.

Interestingly, more than 75% of a mattress’s materials can be recycled and repurposed.

Moreover, certain recycling centers have the capability to refurbish unwanted mattresses and subsequently offer them for sale at a discounted price compared to new ones.

Donation Centers That Accept Mattresses

Donating a mattress is another practical and eco-friendly alternative to dumpster disposal, especially if the mattress is clean and in good condition. This act of donation can provide assistance to those in need and may potentially result in tax benefits.

However, it’s important to note that not all mattresses are suitable for donation. If your mattress is stained, dirty, or damaged, it’s advisable to consider recycling instead.

Before donating, it’s wise to check with local branches and organizations to confirm if they are currently accepting mattress donations and to understand any specific criteria or preparations they may require.

The Environmental Impact of Mattress Disposal

Overfilled landfill with mattresses

Mattress disposal has substantial environmental implications due to their bulkiness and difficulty to compact, causing challenges in landfills by taking up considerable space. An alarming 83% of all discarded mattresses end up in a landfill, making a significant contribution to landfill overcrowding.

Mattresses can also contain hazardous materials such as synthetic latex and other chemicals such as flame retardants and glues. Foam mattresses can release volatile organic compounds, including propylene oxide, while PVC materials in some mattress covers can emit phthalates and other harmful chemicals. This emphasizes the environmental responsibility we all bear when disposing of our old mattresses.

Why Mattresses Are Problematic for Landfills

Unwanted mattresses in landfills present problems due to their:

  • Space occupancy

  • Difficulty in compressing their bulky, rigid structure, which can potentially damage landfill machinery

  • Exceptionally long time to decompose, often hundreds of years

  • Materials like polyurethane foam, synthetic latex, conventional cotton, glues, flame retardants, and various chemicals contributing to their longevity in the landfill environment.

The average mattress occupies approximately 40 cubic feet of space in a local landfill, which is noteworthy given the large number of mattresses discarded each year. Moreover, mattresses can be considered as biohazards due to the potential presence of contaminated materials, which necessitate specialized disposal methods such as safe incineration to prevent the spread of any potential health risks.

Hiring Professional Mattress Removal Services

Professional mattress removal service

Enlisting professional mattress removal services offers several benefits, including proper disposal and recycling of the unwanted mattress, as well as saving time and effort for the customer. The mattress removal cost can vary, with options ranging from:

  • Free as part of white glove delivery when purchasing a new mattress

  • Approximately $10 to $50 for landfill disposal or recycling

  • Average cost between $75 and $200

  • Junk haulers may charge around $300

  • Dumpster rental could cost about $500

Additional fees may apply based on factors such as location, size, and weight of the mattress.

Certain reliable mattress removal service providers include Junk King, 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, and LoadUp. However, engaging a professional mattress removal service typically involves contacting the company, scheduling a pickup, and paying for the service. The company may send a professional to assess the mattress and provide a quote before scheduling the removal. Prices may vary by company and location, and the condition of the mattress does not necessarily affect the service.

Comparing Mattress Removal Costs

The typical expenses associated with mattress disposal services at a local landfill in various regions of the United States vary from $20 to $625, with a national average of $75. Some services, like Mattress Disposal Plus, offer competitive pricing for unwanted mattress removal, averaging 25-30% less than other mattress disposal services in your area.

Comparing mattress removal costs can be beneficial in helping you find an affordable and eco-friendly solution for disposing of an old mattress. It’s important to keep in mind that certain mattress removal services may entail extra charges, like a mattress recycling fee, to address the expenses linked to disposal and recycling when purchasing a new mattress.

Preparing Your Mattress for Proper Disposal

Mattress wrapped in plastic bag for disposal

Before disposing of your old mattress, it’s important to properly prepare it. This includes cleaning the mattress before disposal by using a DIY method involving hydrogen peroxide, liquid dish soap, and baking soda. For smaller stains, spot cleaning with a non-toxic enzyme cleaner or a homemade solution of hydrogen peroxide and dish soap can also be effective.

Once your mattress is clean, the next step is to wrap it in a sturdy plastic bag that fits the mattress size. This involves:

  1. Removing all bedding

  2. Sliding the mattress into the bag

  3. Covering it completely

  4. Sealing the bag using tape or a zip tie.

Adhering to local regulations for the transport and disposal of your mattress at a local landfill is crucial as it ensures compliance with laws, helps in preventing potential fines, and supports environmental protection efforts.

Using a Plastic Mattress Bag for Transport

Utilizing a plastic mattress bag offers several benefits, including:

  • Safeguarding your mattress from dirt, pests, and potential contaminants during transport

  • Minimizing fluid damage

  • Facilitating cleaning

  • Averting dust mite and bed bug infestations

  • Preventing transport damage

  • Shielding the mattress and other items from dust

  • Acting as a barrier against various contaminants

Furthermore, certain disposal facilities and donation centers may mandate the use of a mattress bag for transport.

A plastic mattress bag for unwanted mattress transportation can be acquired at home improvement stores such as The Home Depot, or through online e-commerce platforms like Amazon. The appropriate size of plastic mattress bag depends on the bed size. For a Full (Double) mattress, the bag should measure 54 x 75 inches; for a Queen mattress, it should measure 60 x 80 inches; and for a King mattress, the bag should be 76 x 80 inches.

The packing process includes:

  1. Cleaning and airing out the mattress

  2. Thoroughly wrapping and covering the mattress and any bed pieces in plastic

  3. Securing the mattress in a heavy-duty mattress bag or, alternatively, a mattress protector or a large, durable plastic bag to ensure protection during transport.

When Mattress Disposal is Part of Buying a New Bed

When purchasing a new bed, disposing of the old mattress might be a factor to consider. It’s important to ask if the retailer offers removal services for the old mattress, as this could incur an extra charge. Certain brick and mortar bed and mattress retailers offer a mattress collection service to assist in the disposal of old mattresses when purchasing a new one.

However, it’s important to note that not all retailers offer this service. Normally, online mattress companies do not provide the service of collecting your unwanted mattress, therefore you will have to make separate arrangements for its disposal. When utilizing mattress removal services offered by a retailer, the average cost typically ranges from $50 to $100.

Additionally, when selling a used mattress, the fair market price generally falls within 20-30% of its original retail value.

Identifying When a Mattress Cannot Be Donated or Recycled

There are instances when a mattress is not suitable for donation or recycling. If your mattress shows visible damage, stains, or pests, it’s not recommended to donate or sell it. Recognizing these instances is important to ensure proper disposal.

In such cases, you may need to resort to other disposal methods. It’s essential to handle these mattresses carefully and responsibly, following all local regulations and guidelines to prevent further issues or potential fines.

Handling Mattresses with Bed Bugs

If your mattress is infested with bed bugs, it requires special handling. Bed bugs presence on a mattress is indicated by:

  • Dark spots on the bed or sheets

  • Blood spots on the sheets or mattress

  • Tiny pale yellow eggs or eggshells

  • Bedbug poop (black dots about the size of a pinhead)

In these cases, it is important to:

  1. Isolate the mattress by moving it away from walls and furniture.

  2. Carefully place the mattress in a sturdy plastic bag, ensuring it is completely sealed.

  3. Prior to disposal, properly label a mattress infested with bed bugs by affixing a conspicuous sign or mark with prominently displayed words such as ‘BED BUG INFESTED’. This is crucial to ensure proper containment, labeling, and disposal to prevent the spread of infestation.

Creative Ways to Repurpose an Old Mattress

If you’re open to creative solutions, there are several ways to repurpose an old mattress. For example, it can be used to:

  • Create custom cushions or pillows by cutting the foam

  • Compost the mattress materials

  • Construct items such as a sculpture, wine rack, pot rack, room divider, or even a light fixture

Materials from an old mattress, such as memory foam padding, foam components, and box spring, can be reused for furniture upholstery or insulation. Metal springs can be recycled and melted down for use in car parts, jewelry, or other products.

Alternatively, you can repurpose an old mattress into a pet bed by using carpet padding. This involves cutting the fabric and foam to the desired size using a utility knife, and then sewing a cover for the bed, providing a comfortable rest area for your pet.


Disposing of an old mattress can be a complex process, but with the right knowledge, it doesn’t have to be. Understanding your local regulations and company policies is crucial to avoid penalties and fines. Considering alternatives such as recycling or donation can provide an environmentally friendly solution, while saving space in local landfills. If you’re buying a new bed, be sure to ask your retailer about their removal services, and remember to properly prepare your mattress for disposal. If your mattress can’t be donated or recycled, ensure you follow proper containment and disposal methods, especially if it’s infested with bed bugs. And finally, don’t forget that your old mattress can be repurposed in creative ways to give it a new lease of life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you put mattress next to dumpster?

No, you cannot put a mattress next to a dumpster. You will need to dispose of it at a local landfill or recycling center.

How do you break down a mattress?

To break down a mattress, start by removing the cover, separating the foam and spring layers, disassembling the foundation (if applicable), and then preparing the components for recycling. This will help in the proper disposal of the mattress.

How do I dispose of a mattress in Edmonton?

In Edmonton, you can dispose of a mattress by dropping it off at an Eco Station or the City of Edmonton Waste Management Centre. If you’re outside Edmonton, check with your local transfer station or landfill for disposal options.

What are some alternatives to dumpster disposal for my old mattress?

Consider recycling, donating, selling, or repurposing your old mattress as alternatives to dumpster disposal. You have several options to choose from to avoid simply throwing it away.

Why are mattresses problematic for landfills?

Mattresses are problematic for landfills because they take up a lot of space, are difficult to compact, contain hazardous materials, and decompose slowly, creating environmental concerns.