Depending on how you choose to say goodbye to your old mattress, this post may or may not be of interest to you. If you need a quick and easy disposal method, please see our post on how to dispose of a mattress. However, if you’d like a cheaper and more hands-on approach, carry on reading below.
I took the time out to attempt a DIY recycle for once, mainly to see for myself, and to show you, the anatomy of an innerspring mattress while we have the chance.
Please note, this is not an encouragement to DIY mattress recycling, nor an official guide, nor is it professional advice. It was the first time we attempted this, and choosemattress.com cannot be held liable for any injury or loss which arises if you choose to mimic the process undertaken below:
Here’s How To Recycle A Mattress Yourself
Flathead screwdriver, pliers, sharp thin blade.
Preparing The Work Area
As you can see pictured to the right, here we have what was once a beautiful looking, previously plump, firm and supportive king size orthopedic spring mattress. Years on and unfortunately its time to say goodbye to this old and saggy beast. As you may have guessed here, it lies in the back garden on a chilly February morning. This thing was extremely heavy, possibly more than 50kg, so it required two of us to transport which was still quite a task of push and pull. Something to wheel along would have been much easier, but instead, we placed a huge heavy duty plastic cover underneath to help reduce the friction.
Revealing The Inner Core
Once we had it transported into the garden and laid flat on the dry ground, the first thing we did was run a large slit around the four edges using the sharp thin Stanley knife we had. A relatively large craft knife would suffice, but it needed to puncture all the layers and reach the hollow. Beneath the externally visible fabric cover, there is a couple of layers of foam that acts as added protection in-between from those continuous coils aka Bonnell springs you’re about to see. The cut around each of the edges had to meet for the top three layers to be cleanly ripped off.
Taking It Apart
We then literally pulled off (quite easily) the top fabric layer and both levels of foam (seen here in the order of cream, white, and gray). These were then rolled neatly and placed in bin bags ready for re-use. Turning the mattress over and the same was performed on the opposite. Our plan with this fabric is to store and hold on for use as insulation on a small upcoming project. Anyone else can do the same, either re-use, dispose of, even sell. This material easily makes up 80% of the overall recyclable contents and is the bulk of what recycling companies put to many other uses.
Once all the layers of fabric and foam were removed the continuous coil bare spring frame was left for the taking. If you look close enough you can see to the right where the mattress was starting to sag; it seems like that area was used for regular sitting. Unfortunately, some of the padding was reluctant to come off so using a flat head screwdriver and pliers we had to remove some clips to fully strip down and make the shell fabric-free. Finally, the shell was much more manageable now, lighter, and easily folded into the back of the SUV. We had no purpose to re-use the metal, so we drove and sold to a local scrap metal merchant for a decent price.
And there you have it. Quite a sight to see a King size mattress stripped to a bare shell. It took only 30 minutes, three tools, and two people.
Lindsay is a contributor and the senior editor of all content posted on this site. She is in this role due to her somewhat unrivaled expertise through previous retail experience in the mattress and bedding industry.