7 ways to re-use memory foam at home - how to breathe new life into your old mattress or mattress topper

Handy ways to repurpose memory foam

Blue scalloped headboard on bed
(Image credit: Colin Poole/Future PLC)

If you’ve recently upgraded your sleeping space, you might be interested to know that there are so many ways to re-use memory foam around the house. So, don't send your old mattress or mattress topper to landfill.

We’ve tested some of the best mattresses and best mattress toppers in the business, and a large portion of them made the cut thanks to their memory foam cushioning. But even the best memory foam products aren’t invincible, and there’s always going to come a time when you need to replace your sleep essentials with a newer model. 

However, anyone who has ever tried will know that getting rid of a mattress or trying to shove a mattress topper into your wheelie bin isn’t an easy task - and it’s definitely not eco-friendly. That’s why we’ve consulted with the experts to find ways to re-use memory foam around the house. 

Ways to reuse memory foam mattress or topper 

‘Memory foam mattresses and toppers are a great option when looking for a mattress, and an added benefit is being able to reuse them when they have come to the end of their life in the bedroom!’ explains Stephany Aubrey, Brand Expert at Zinus

Just remember that in its raw form, polyurethane foam (memory foam) is highly flammable. And while the average DIY job shouldn't be a health and safety risk for your home, it’s important to consider this when thinking about the use and location of this memory foam repurposing. 

1. Turn it into a bespoke headboard

Blue scalloped headboard on bed

(Image credit: Future PLC)

From boucle headboards to oversized headboards, there’s no doubt about the fact that big and bold headboards are very much in - and they don’t show any signs of going out anytime soon. 

Buying a brand-new headboard can be pricey, though, which is why you might want to use an old mattress or mattress topper to make a bespoke (and very comfortable) DIY headboard

How you do this is completely down to you and your design choice, but we’d suggest cutting the memory foam into smaller pieces and then attaching it to a wooden panel or hanging it in the form of a cafe curtain-style headboard. Then, you can upholster it in the fabric of your choice. 

Of course, if you’re looking for more cushioning, you’ll want to re-use a memory foam mattress. If you’re looking for something that’s more aesthetically pleasing than practical, a mattress topper should do the trick. 

Our guide on how to reuse an old mattress in the garden also offers advice on the best way to cut up an old mattress in order to reuse the smaller components, so it’s best to check that out for all of the safety features you need to consider. 

2. Make a new bed for your pets

Kitchen with built in dog bed

(Image credit: Future PLC)

If you’re toying with the idea of recycling your mattress or repurposing it, you might be interested to know that the foam and wadding inside memory foam mattresses are usually recycled and used to make animal beds. 

So, why not do this yourself? Dhilnawaaz from Dhilnawaaz Khan Trotman Interior Design Studio says, ‘Your pets will love you forever if you gift them a stunning new bed made with a comfy memory foam mattress. Use fabrics that complement your home interior. Just avoid boucle with your kitty cats.’

By doing this, you can make your pet’s bed as big or as small as possible, you can make it as flat or as firm as your pet would like, and you have the pleasure of being able to tailor your pet’s bed to your own home decor idea

If you don’t have the sewing prowess to make a bed from scratch, you could cheat this idea by buying a pet crate or basket - like this Petface Black Plastic Dog Bed from Argos - and then making a cushion to go inside of it. 

Plus, this memory foam repurposing idea also has the added bonus of being gentle on your pet’s joints. 

3. Build a soft play mat

Colourful play area in a kids bedroom with house-shaped storage unit on wheels and blue walls

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Brittain)

If you’re looking for a new children’s room idea, may we suggest using your memory foam mattress topper to build soft play mats for your little ones? After all, this will keep them (and your flooring) safe from any bumps. 

Thankfully, a mattress topper lends itself perfectly as padding for your floor, and it’s easy to cut this material to size so it fits your playroom or living room perfectly. 

James Higgins, Sleep Expert and CEO of Ethical Bedding, says, 'Using memory foam to create play mats for children is an innovative way to ensure a soft, safe, and comfortable play area while teaching them the positive benefits of upcycling.'

'These mats can be particularly useful in homes with hard flooring, providing a cushioned surface that can help prevent injuries from falls and provide a cosy area for playtime activities. Its viscoelastic properties allow it to absorb impacts effectively, making it an excellent material for cushioning falls.'

4. Help your plants with drainage

Front porch with potted plants

(Image credit: Future PLC/Douglas Gibb)

Anyone who knows how to reuse old towels in the garden will know that old towels make a great garden kneeler. But if you don’t have any old towels lying around, a memory foam mattress or mattress topper can be a great alternative.

‘Cutting the memory foam into smaller pieces and using them as cushions or padding for knee pads is a good idea, you could also put it under garden furniture so that it doesn't damage your concrete/grass/flooring,’ explains Steve Chilton, garden expert at LeisureBench

That’s not the only way you can use memory foam in the garden, though. Steve adds, ‘If you have plant pots or containers that don't have any draining holes, you could cut out the memory foam and cut circles into it. Place these at the bottom of your pots/containers, and it'll act as a drainage layer that could be vital in making sure your plants don't get waterlogged.'

Of course, this can be a great way to save money in the garden while still bringing your garden ideas to life, but you do need to be careful when using memory foam outside in the natural world. 

Steve urges, ‘If you re-use memory foam in the garden, be careful of any toxic chemicals that might be present in the foam through its manufacturing process. I recommend removing any fabric covering or outer materials before using memory foam in the garden, just to prevent potential contamination.’

Headshot of gardening expert Steve Chilton
Steve Chilton

Steve is a passionate and knowledgeable garden expert with several years of experience within the field and has developed strong expertise for all things nature and plants. Steve is a keen educator and loves to share this knowledge with others. He strives to simplify complex garden practices and encourage eco-friendly gardening.

5. Craft your own cushions

Living room with white walls, modern art painting hung above a yellow sofa with cushions

(Image credit: Future PLC/Joanna Henderson)

When it comes to the amount of cushions you can have in your home, the limit does not exist. We’re huge advocates for adding as many cushions as you like into your space, whether that’s sofa cushions or a giant mountain of cushions on your bed. 

And while these items generally aren’t the most expensive things in the world, do you ever wish you could make your own bespoke cushions? Well, you can if you have a memory foam mattress or mattress topper lying around. 

‘The easiest way to repurpose your mattress topper is to create some scatter cushions. Weave this into your aesthetic, keep it eco-friendly and use off-cut fabrics or old scarves/quilts/throws/sarongs to create your cushions,’ explains Dhilnawaaz. 

By cutting this memory foam into small cubes or strips, you can create a filling that will suit your homemade cushion cover (and your home) perfectly. 

If you’re not as craftily inclined, however, you could simply fill a pre-bought cushion cover with this memory foam filling. This will be much cheaper than buying a pre-filled cushion. 

6. Add some comfort to benches and chairs

A garden seating area with outdoor wooden furniture

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

Your garden ideas may focus on the plants that you’re growing and the seeds that you’re sowing, but you also need to enjoy the delights of your garden on a personal level. 

And while you might already have the best garden furniture, even the most comfortable chairs and benches could benefit from an extra cushion or two. That’s why repurposing a memory foam mattress or mattress topper can come in so handy. 

However, you need to think about safety and weather-proofing when making anything for your garden. 

Hannah Rouch, a second-hand expert at Gumtree, comments, ‘Gardens can often benefit from extra seating that can be easily stored. Cut to fit the best part of your mattress or topper into a floor cushion and wrap in water-resistant material. There are lots of easy-to-follow tutorials online with cushion patterns and instructions on how to properly cover the item, even if sewing isn’t your best skill.’ 

As well as choosing water-resistant fabric, it would also be a good idea to choose a UV-protection fabric so the UV rays don’t damage the memory foam underneath. 

7. Make a draught excluder

Green door curtain on front door

(Image credit: Future PLC)

If you're constantly looking for new, innovative, and cheap draught-proofing ideas, look no further than your old memory foam. This material is perfect for keeping your home warm during the winter and reducing heat loss - which is perfect for those looking to save energy.

'Using memory foam can be a creative way to insulate under your door frames, combining functionality with sustainability,' says James.

'What’s great about memory foam is that it can be easily cut to fit any size and is also known for its durability and resistance to wear and tear. Plus, it’s soft, so you won’t be at risk of your floors or door frames being scratched.'

You can also make these as bright and vibrant or as natural and minimalist as possible, so you can tailor this draught excluder to your home decor. 


How can I reuse a memory foam mattress?

‘For foam mattresses and toppers beyond repair, cutting them down to function elsewhere in the house is quick fix even if you only have basic DIY skills,’ says Hannah. And the easiest way to reuse a memory foam mattress is to use the foam itself as a form of cushioning. 

You could use it to make sofa cushions or even a cushion for your knees when you’re gardening, but more than anything, you need to make sure that you’re using it in a safe way.

What not to do with memory foam mattress?

Although new memory foam mattresses are treated to be flame retardant, this hasn’t always been the case, and reusing an old memory foam mattress could be a fire risk. 

Not only that, but the process of making a memory foam mattress flame retardant involves chemicals. So, you should never attempt to melt a memory foam mattress, and you should keep it away from high temperatures. 

How will you be reusing your memory foam mattress or mattress topper? 

Lauren Bradbury

Lauren Bradbury is a freelance writer and major homes enthusiast. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Chichester in 2016, before dipping her toe into the world of content writing. After years of agency work, writing everything from real-life stories to holiday round-ups, she decided to take the plunge and become a full-time freelancer in the online magazine world. Since then, she has become a regular contributor for Real Homes and Ideal Home, and become even more obsessed with everything interior and garden related. As a result, she’s in the process of transforming her old Victorian terraced house into an eclectic and modern home that hits visitors with personality as soon as they walk through the door.