Each year, Canadians throw away millions of mattresses – each of which can take up to 40 cubic feet of space (average of 23 cubic feet) in a landfill because they’re hard to compact and break apart and can take up to 120 years to decompose.
If you are looking for the cheapest, easiest and ideally most socially responsible way to dispose of your old mattress without it ending up in a landfill, you likely have a few options locally. Don’t dump your mattress next to a dumpster or the side of the road – it’s illegal and you could be fined for waste dumping.
While donating it might be your first instinct (and a good one!), your options depend on what condition the mattress is in:
Mattress is still in usable condition
It may still be in good, usable condition meaning:
- Not older then 7 to 8 years
- Insect/bed bug free
- No rips, tears or permanent indentations
- Dry, mold-free
- Not stained, soiled or discolored
- Not used in a home with cats or smokers
and if you’re getting rid of it because:
- You no longer need it due to a move or it being outgrown
- You’re upgrading to a larger size or higher-end model
- The return window has passed and it still isn’t comfortable/right firmness
- You’re downsizing or decluttering
Keep in mind that the following are general suggestions and may not apply to all organizations in your area at all times. It depends on how many mattresses they already have in stock and the need for mattresses locally. Mattresses are also large and heavy, making them impractical inventory for smaller stores or those run by older volunteers.
We strongly recommend calling ahead to confirm that the organization is accepting mattresses before showing up at their door to drop one off.
1. Donate it to a local charity or non-profit
- Cost: Free to $100
- Method: You drop off (free), possibly they pick up ($50 to $100, offset by charitable receipt)
If your mattress is clean and gently used, donating it allows you to give back to society and pass it on to someone in need, and you may also be eligible to receive a charitable donation receipt in return.
Some people see this as “unsanitary”, but consider that when you stay at a hotel or Airbnb you’re sleeping on a mattress, pillows, sheets and covers have been used by 100s, if not 1,000s of previous guests. As long as the mattress is confirmed to be clean, bug-free and still comfortable, there’s no reason it can’t be used by someone else.
Non-profits and charities such as:
- Thrift shops
- Crisis centers
- Group homes
- Transitional housing
- Religious organizations (churches, mosques)
will either use the mattress to replace one on a bed they provide, resell it at a low price to fund their operations or provide it directly to someone who is in need.
However, due to the influx of affordable beds from online-only mattress companies, quality standards (and existing supply) have increased at many charities and shelters. Sub-par mattresses may not be accepted, even if it is still clean, comfy and in usable condition. If this is the case in your area, skip ahead to the next option.
Unfortunately, many big-name thrift stores do not accept mattresses:
Does Goodwill accept mattresses?
Goodwill does not accept mattresses.
Does Salvation Army accept mattresses?
Salvation Army does not accept mattresses
Does Habitat for Humanity accept mattresses?
In general, Habitat for Humanity does not accept mattresses.
2. Donate it to a furniture bank
- Cost: Free to $150
- Method: Likely they pick up ($50 to $150, offset by charitable receipt), possibly you drop off (free)
Here are furniture banks we found across Canada:
Know of one that isn’t listed? Let us know and we’ll add it.
A furniture bank is a charitable social enterprise that redistributes lightly used furniture and housewares from members of the community who are replacing or downsizing to individuals and families who are unable to furnish their house.
While they charge a fee for pick up, they typically handle the entire process: pick up, inspection, minor repairs, storage and eventual delivery of the items. It is usually cheaper than a junk removal service, they provide charitable donation receipts (eg. up to $250) for the “fair market value” of the mattress, and you can feel good knowing it was used to help a local family, rather than being broken down and recycled.
The donation receipts are typically flat predetermined values that are non-negotiable. For example, the Niagara Furniture Bank issues $146 for a queen box spring and $167 for a queen mattress.
The clients referred to furniture banks through social service agencies are newly housed:
- After leaving a shelter or transitional housing
- Victims fleeing domestic violence or abuse
- New immigrant or refugee families arriving in Canada
- Suffering a crisis/loss due to house fire, flood or pests
- Struggling with mental illness
- Families living below the poverty line
who require assistance – many of whom do not have the funds to furnish their apartment after paying for rent and food. Providing their furniture helps give them a fresh start and make their house feel like a home.
3. Give it away for free on Kijiji or Facebook Marketplace
- Cost: Free
- Method: Likely you drop off, possibly they pick up
If none of the charities in your area are accepting donated mattresses and there isn’t a furniture bank near you, you can operate as your own by holding onto it until you find a home for it to go to.
Take a picture of each side of your mattress and listing it under the free section of Kijiji or Facebook marketplace. If you’re not in a rush to get rid of it or want to cut down on the number of tire-kicking responses, you can try selling it for a nominal price (eg. $50).
It takes more work and time to respond to inquiries and make sure it goes to a deserving home, but the personal interaction can be quite rewarding as you get to see who will benefit from the bed. Be prepared to get requests for you to deliver/drop off the mattress from families in need who may not have access to a vehicle (and picking it up via transit isn’t possible/practical).
Mattress is no longer usable
It may no longer be in usable condition if it is:
- Older then 7 to 8 years
- Ripped, torn or has exposed coils
- Heavily stained or discolored
- Smells of urine, smoke or mildew
Or if you’re getting rid of it because:
- You can no longer sleep on it without experiencing aches and pains
- There are noticeable lumps and indentations when lying on it
- It creaks and squeaks
1. Mattress recycling centers
- Cost: $10 to $30 recycling fee
- Method: They pick up ($50 to $100) or you drop off (just the recycling fee)
|BC||Vancouver||Canadian Mattress Recycling||$20 to $25|
|MB||Winnipeg||Mother Earth Recycling||$15|
If your mattress is not in reusable condition, the most environmentally friendly disposal method is to recycle it which reduces waste, energy usage and the use of natural resources.
Around 75% to 99% of a mattresses can be broken down and recycled into its raw materials. However, recycling laws, regulations, and standards vary significantly by province and municipality and the wide variety of materials in a mattress
A mattress recycling center will dismantle mattresses and box springs piece by piece and sort them by material:
- Foam: Shredded and used as carpet padding, pet bedding, car headrests or insulation
- Upholstery: Incinerated to produce electricity
- Wood: Shredded and used as mulch or an alternative fuel source
- Metal springs: Melted down and reused
2. Hire a junk removal company
- Cost: $100 to $200
- Method: They pick up
Junk removal companies cost more, but they will come to you and do the heavy lifting for you. The big-name companies will go through a similar process of assessing its usability and finding a charity to donate it to or recycling center to take it to, considering the landfill as a last resort.
Will assess its condition to determine if we can make a mattress donation to a local charity. If not, they take it to a mattress recycling facility or dispose of it properly.
Working with local charities and recycling facilities, they ensure that as much as 60% of items, including mattresses, are disposed of in an eco-friendly manner and not taken straight to the dump.
Mattress is a health hazard
It is not in recyclable condition if it is:
- Insect/bed bug infested (try using a mattress encasement)
- Soiled (feces)
And must be thrown away carefully.
Throw it away
If you’ve exhausted all your options and are unable to donate, resell, recycle, or repurpose your old mattress, the last option is to throw it out. Ideally this is only used as a last resort as each mattress takes up to 40 cubic feet of space in a landfill and up to 120 years to decompose, but may be your only choice if it is in ‘health hazard’ condition.
To prepare a mattress in ‘health hazard’ condition (eg. bed bugs) for safe transport, handling, and recycling, refer to your local garbage collection guidelines. In general:
- Wrap it in a plastic mattress bag or plastic sheeting (for sale at shops selling mattresses or moving supplies).
- Seal it so bed bugs cannot escape
- Label it “contains bed bugs”
Oversized/bulk waste pick up
- Cost: $5 to $15 per mattress or included in your property taxes
- Method: They pick up
|Ajax & Pickering||ON|
Many cities and states have specific rules and regulations in place around throwing away mattresses and don’t allow you to leave a mattress in the trash – doing so can result in a ticket or fine.
Drop off at a depot, transfer station or landfill
- Cost: $15 to $30 per item or load
- Method: You drop off
What happens when a mattress is returned?
When a mattress is returned within the initial trial period, it is usually because it wasn’t the right firmness and feel for the customer’s preferences, so it comes back very lightly used and still in great condition.
The following companies state that they attempt to do the following – in order – for mattresses returned in good condition:
- Donated to a local charitable organization,
- Recycled by a partner such as those listed above (eg. MattCanada or Recyc-Matelas),
- Disposed of according to municipal requirements.
- GoodMorning.com (Novosbed, Apollo, Brunswick, Douglas, Juno, Logan & Cove, Podium, and Recore)
- Silk & Snow
The following companies will recycle your returned mattress for a fee:
- Mattress Mart ($10)
- Sleep Country ($15.75)
- The Brick ($15)
Over to you
We’re interested to know – how did you get rid of your mattress? What organizations accept mattresses in your area? Let us know by leaving a comment below!