How to get rid of a mattress - all you need to know about mattress disposal

Making room for a lovely new mattress? Here's how to get rid of a mattress that's seen better days, whether recycling, selling or donating

A bedroom with a bed with white bedding
(Image credit: Future PLC/James Merrell)

If you've recently bought a new mattress, you're probably wondering how to get rid of a mattress so that your old one doesn't have to start living in the garage. Nothing quite beats the joy of getting a new mattress after years of sleeping on one that has become worn, tired, and even a little bit smelly and investing in a new mattress isn't just a luxury, but a necessity.

If you think your mattress has reached its expiry date, it's time to invest in one of the best mattresses and learn how to dispose of a mattress so you can remove your old one at the same time. 

Sleeping on an inadequate mattress can be detrimental not only to your sleep but to your health as well, leading to achy joints and sore back muscles. And if you're wondering how often you should change your mattress, we spoke to the sleep experts at Simba who explained:

'All good things must come to an end and every mattress dies eventually. As a general rule, and according to the Sleep Council, you should think about changing your mattress every seven to eight years.'

We've done our research and consulted the experts to learn more about mattress disposal. From recycling to selling, our guide covers all the ways you can dispose of your mattress so that you can decide which route is best for you.

Double bed with white and blue bedding in blue tone bedroom

(Image credit: Dreams)

How to get rid of a mattress

Now that we've established that upgrading your sleep with a tempting mattress deal is one of the best ways to sleep better, it's time to look at how to get rid of your old mattress. Who wants to keep an old mattress in storage anyway, even if you do have the room? 

There are a few options for how to dispose of a mattress that are environmentally friendly, as well as a couple of ways that won't cost you any money. Which option you choose will depend on several factors, so keep that in mind as you read on.

1. Council pick up or drop off

Simba mattress on green bed with white bedding and grey throw

(Image credit: Simba)

The first port of call for how to get rid of a mattress is to check the guidance of your local council, which you'll be able to find online. Different councils will offer different services for mattress disposal; some may collect it kerbside and recycle it for you, others will point you in the direction of your local household waste recycling centre, (the tip). Note that not all recycling centres accept mattresses, so definitely check the guidance beforehand to save yourself a wasted trip. 

Most councils do offer mattress collection, though the service is often in high demand and there will be a fee to pay. Prices vary; it can cost as little as £12 and as much as £50. 

'There’s also no guarantee that your old mattress will become part of a mattress recycling programme if you use your local council’s old mattress disposal services', says Martin Seeley, CEO, MattressNextDay. 'It might end up as one of the 8 million that make their way to landfill sites across the UK.'

Your local council's services are worth exploring though, and you can always do some digging to find out what happens to the mattresses once they've been dropped off or picked up.

2. Donate it to charity

Pile of mattresses

(Image credit: Future PLC/Ben Anders)

'The cheapest and easiest way to recycle your mattress is to donate it to charity as they will pick it up for free, however, this is dictated by the condition of your mattress', says Martin.

Charities that offer mattress collection, such as British Heart Foundation, Salvation Army, and some homeless shelters, will only accept mattresses that are in usable condition. Mattresses that are stained, broken, or damaged in any way will not be accepted, and the mattress must still have its fire safety label, which you can find on the underside. 

But if your mattress does have a second lease of life in it, you can donate it to charity and organise for it to be collected from your house for free. You'll also be able to sleep better knowing that your mattress isn't going straight to landfill. Have a look online at charities offering mattress collection in your local area.

3. Sell it second hand

Hypos mattress on an upholstered bed in a dark bedroom

(Image credit: Hypnos)

You may be surprised to learn that you can sell your mattress and earn a few quid for it. The caveat is that it's unlikely that someone is going to buy a mattress that is in poor condition, so this may not be the best option if your mattress is feeling a bit old. 

There are a few factors that will determine whether your mattress is in good enough condition to boost the interest of prospective buyers and also up the price tag. These include whether you've been using a mattress protector during the life cycle of your mattress, whether pets have slept on your bed, if you clean your mattress and if you've been rotating your mattress regularly.

Second-hand seller sites such as Gumtree, Preloved, and Facebook Marketplace are often full of mattresses people are trying to get rid of. A good tip is to put your old mattress up for under a fiver, but ask for collection only. That way the mattress will be taken out of your hands with little hassle. 

Remember to be as transparent as possible when describing the condition of the mattress. If you're on the other side and the one purchasing, make sure you don't fall into the common mistakes people make when buying a mattress.

4. Use a mattress recycling service

The final way to dispose of a mattress is to use a private recycling service, which many brands now offer. If you are shopping around, have a look at the company's recycling service if they have one. Lots of brands, such as Dreams, will collect your old mattress when they deliver your new one.

'None of the materials from our recycled mattresses go to landfill', says Fabio Perrotta, Director of Buying, Dreams. 'The springs, once separated from the mattress, are sent to be melted down into new light iron. The mattress is shredded and the mixed shredded fibre is turned into fuel pellets for energy and cement production.'

That sounds much better than a mattress going to landfill. There is usually a fee to pay for these services; Dreams for example charge £40 to recycle a single-size mattress, £50 for a double, and £55 for a king or super king.

Feather & Black Cambourne bed

(Image credit: Feather & Black)

IKEA also provide a mattress removal and recycling service and their process is suitably eco-friendly. An IKEA spokesperson explains, 'our mattress removal and recycling service makes it easier for customers looking to live more sustainably. In partnership with The Mattress Recycling People, we will recover pre-loved mattresses for recycling into newly manufactured products. Available for £40, customers can book a collection slot via our website, at their chosen date and time.'

MattressNextDay will recycle any mattress for just £39, which is a pretty fair price. '100% of the mattress is broken down into its components, which are then sent off to industries that can benefit from these raw materials', says CEO Martin. 'Steel from the springs, wool, cotton fillings and even the cushioning material all have a new life.'

Tristine Hargreaves, executive director at the National Bed Federation adds, 'Mattress recyclers can take back mattresses in a variety of conditions, good or bad, and they will decide which elements of the mattress are good enough.'

'It is better to send it for recycling, where it can be assessed by the professionals in the industry, rather than sending it to landfill.'

'Our parent organisation, the National Bed Federation, is striving to achieve a 75% diversion from landfill target for mattresses at the end of life and will be launching a website soon to help consumers find the local authority recycling service in their local area. We would strongly encourage consumers to use recycling services wherever they are available.'

'Advice on recycling your mattress, with information on legitimate recycling companies and collection services, is also available on our Bed Advice website under the Sustainability section. '

Grey upholstered bed with mattress uncovered in a blue bedroom

(Image credit: Dreams)

Popular mattress brand Simba, who makes our five-star reviewed Simba Hybrid, will soon be offering a new recycling service with no purchase necessary. 'As part of Simba’s zero waste commitment and sustainability goals, later this month, Simba will be opening up its state-of-the-art, not-for-profit recycling service to accept any brand of mattress, no purchase necessary', say the sleep experts at Simba. 'Simba works closely with a trusted partner, the Furniture Recycling Group, to allow people to sleep soundly knowing that their old mattress will be responsibly recycled.'

So the good news is that there are plenty of options for how to get rid of a mattress sustainably. The benefits of going through a private recycling scheme via a mattress brand is that you know that your old mattress is being put to use in some way, whatever condition it's in.

How can I dispose of a mattress for free in the UK?

Whether you can get rid of your mattress for free ultimately depends on the condition it's in. You can donate a usable mattress to charity for free, but the emphasis here is on usable; if someone else isn't willing to pay for it, a charity won't be willing to pay for it.

'If your mattress is in good condition, one of the easiest ways to get rid of it is to donate it to charity', says Fabio from Dreams. 'British Heart Foundation, The Salvation Army or Shelter are just a few that accept them, but check their websites for more information.'

You may be able to source a free collection of your mattress on sites like Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace, and Preloved, but this really does depend if anyone's looking for one in your local area. 

Can I take my old mattress to the tip?

Check online to see if your local tip accepts old mattresses. Many of them do, though some may charge a small fee as it's considered a bulky item.

'Deciding to take your old mattress up to your local tip can be problematic', says Martin from MattressNextDay. 'If your car isn’t big enough to take the mattress when it’s flat, you’ll need to roll it and tie it up.'

It can be difficult transporting a mattress to the tip, but it is doable depending on the size of your car. The other issue with taking your mattress to the tip is that it's probably not going to be recycled. 

Even the oldest of mattresses have materials in them that can be put to good use, and though recycling them does come at a cost, it's good to know that the mattress isn't just contributing to landfill. The other benefit of a recycling service over the tip is that your mattress will be collected for you, so no need to struggle to get it into the car.

Katie Sims

Katie Sims has been writing for Ideal Homes since spring 2022. She qualified from her Master’s in Media and Journalism in 2021 and has been writing freelance since. She has worked on Ideal Home’s ecommerce team where she researched the best home products on the market, and on the news team, researching the latest trends for feature pieces.  

With contributions from