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Can You Burn a Mattress? Is It Safe?

damage mattress

After a while, most mattresses get too old to use, which is why most people often replace them with new ones. The main challenge, however, is that you have to dispose of the old one.

So, can you burn a mattress, and is it safe to do so? The short answer is yes; most mattresses are made from flammable materials. However, burning one is not advisable, especially in a confined space.

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How Long Does a Mattress Take To Burn?

It only takes a single spark to ignite a mattress because even new mattresses are made from flammable materials that could be decades old. Mattresses burn quite fast; almost 400 people die from fires caused by mattresses in the US.

Typically, it takes 30 seconds or less for a new mattress to start burning after ignition. If your mattress is older, then it might burn even faster. Most studies by fire experts estimate that you only have 2 minutes to escape a mattress-fueled house fire.

mattress sale
Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

Is It Safe to Burn a Mattress?

No. Mattresses, especially memory foam, tend to release toxic gasses into the environment when burned. The fumes can drop into the soil or get inhaled by someone with respiratory problems, which can be dangerous. There are also laws prohibiting people from burning mattresses because of these reasons.

Mattress disposal is a global environmental nightmare. You should avoid burning a mattress at all costs. Some other effects of burning a mattress include:

1. It Releases Harmful Carbon Monoxide

Burning mattresses release harmful carbon monoxide, a highly poisonous gas when inhaled over an extended period. If you find yourself in an enclosed space with a burning mattress, the gas might kill you and any other people or animals in the room.


2. It’s an Environmental Hazard

Burning a mattress releases VOCs into the atmosphere that can take up to 4 weeks to disappear. Not only do the fumes produced have a terrible odor that may be unpleasant for anyone in the vicinity, but they also create a greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect traps gasses and heat in the atmosphere, leading to global warming.


3. Health-Related Effects

Burning your foam mattresses can be a health hazard, especially if you are in an enclosed area without enough air circulation. If you inhale the fumes, it can lead to an asthma attack, fainting, and seizures.

woman with asthma
Image Credit: Antonio Guillem, Shutterstock

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Other Methods to Dispose of an Old Mattress

The good news is that there are safer ways to dispose of a mattress that does not include burning. They include;

1. Donate to Local Charities and Shelters

If your mattress is not in bad shape and you want to replace it with a newer one, you can donate it to the local shelter in your city. Most shelters accept food, clothes, and bedding donations. Typically, these organizations have listed addresses where you can drop off the mattress.

Most charities and shelters will evaluate the condition of your mattress before accepting it. After they take it, they are responsible for getting rid of it in the future. Doing this will save you the time and effort of getting rid of it while also allowing you to help vulnerable people.

However, if your mattress has other problems you are aware of, such as bedbugs or odors, you don’t want to pass that on to other people. In this case, it’s better to talk to a waste disposal company that will know how to deal with your mattress.

rolled mattress inside a box
Image Credit: Trong Nguyen, Shutterstock

2. Take the Mattress Apart and Recycle It

If you love making DIY crafts, having an old mattress at your disposal can come in handy. You can take out the components of the mattress and recycle them yourself. For example, the springs and coils in the mattress can be used to make bouncy cushions. You can also use the foam to make a bean bag or a pillow.

However, before you take your mattress apart, you need to research the type of mattress and how you can use the components. You also need to learn how to safely disassemble the mattress.


3. Sell It

Even if you think your mattress is old and no longer wanted, someone else might be willing to pay a small price for it. A homeowner can purchase it for a guest bedroom or a carpenter who wants to use the foam and springs in the mattress for a project. The easiest way to find a buyer is to list it on Facebook markets, craigslist, eBay, and Gum tree.

couple moving and carrying a mattress
Image Credit: DGLimages, Shutterstock

4. Donate to Recycling Programs

Instead of burning your mattress or dumping it into a landfill, consider giving it to a mattress recycling program. Some cities and towns have mattress collection centers where the recycling programs pick them. You can also leave your mattress in their recycling factories if you don’t mind the drive.

If you have more than a mattress to drop off or the mattress is too big or heavy, you can arrange for them to pick it up from your home. Some city recycling programs charge a small fee for their services, and you may need to set an appointment and fill out a form before dropping off your old mattress.


5. Giveaway Groups

You can find giveaway groups in your area on Facebook or the Freecycle Network. If you have no success looking in those places, try asking community workers in your area, they are usually in contact with most groups.

You can also go on craigslist and list your mattress under the free stuff category. That way, anyone looking for a free mattress will have a direct way of contacting you.

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Image Credit: Pixabay

divider 4How Not to Dispose of Your Old Mattress

Now that we’ve listed all the safe ways you can dispose of your old mattress, let’s look at some ways you should never dispose of an old one.

1. Don’t Burn It

Burning your old mattress should be your last resort. It’s not recommended for health and environmental reasons. It’s also a fire hazard, not to mention that it’s illegal in most states.


2. Don’t Dump on Open Spaces

Most people dispose of their old mattresses by dumping them into public land which does not have a license to accept waste. Although it’s an easy way out, it’s unsightly and against the law in many parts of the world.

woman touching different layers of a mattress
Image Credit: FotoDuets, Shutterstock

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How to Destroy Your Mattress

The best way to destroy a mattress is to take it apart and use it for DIY. If you donate it to furniture disposal, it will probably end up in a recycling factory, where it will be torn apart and passed through a shredder. Consider cutting it into smaller portions to make transporting it easier.

You can also hire a waste removal company to come and pick it up from you. Whichever option you choose to go with, ensure that the end result is not burning the mattress.


Featured Image Credit: Tricky_Shark, Shutterstock

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