When you've got a used mattress on your hands, there are a multitude of possible useful and helpful things you can do with it. Generally, the best (and the most environmentally efficient) options are to donate it to a charity or to someone you know who can use it, or to recycle it. At most, you might need to make a quick round of calls to see what options are locally available to you.
Who You Know
Assess the condition of the mattress. Give it a solid once-over and look for suspect, unsightly stains that would deter new owners from wanting to rest their weary heads on it, or signs of bedbug infestation. Bedbugs' markers include blood trails -- from when they bite people and crawl away -- or their feces, which looks like dark spots or dots. If the mattress is in good condition, tell everyone you know about it and see if anyone needs one. People are wary of bedbugs, so it's more likely someone you know would accept it over a stranger.
Call around to local churches, synagogues and temples that might know of families in need of a mattress. Places of worship often have congregants in need or are aware of those in the community who could put your used box spring to use, and often can also wrangle the resources for a pick-up. Refugee resettlement programs should also be on your call list. Many are led by state-run Catholic Charities. One located in Oregon even lists on its website twin-size mattresses, box springs and bed frames on its donation wish list.
Try local homeless and battered women's shelters, as well as other charities. When you donate a "gently used" mattress to Salvation Army, it will pick it up. Contact your local chapter to discuss free pick-up at 1-800-728-7825. Qualifying donations are also tax-deductible. You also can try local Goodwill locations. Use the Goodwill Locator in the References section.
Post a note on Freecycle.com, a grassroots nonprofit dedicated to keeping usable decent stuff out of landfills. Be sure to post a photo of the mattress with the listing. People like to know what they're getting.. Also scout around on websites such as Earth911 to locate local recycling centers and those that accept mattresses. A final option in terms of mattress giveaways is if you are buying a new mattress, ask the dealer if he takes old mattresses.
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