There should be no denying the fact that bedding is expensive. It is one of the activities in life that is vital, as much so as eating or drinking, and yet it costs us a small fortune. Like all things in the home, the better we want our bedroom to be, the more we pay for the mattress, but buying a used mattress has become an increasingly popular way to save money.
As environmental awareness is sweeping the planet, people are becoming more aware of their carbon footprint – and a mattress takes a lot of carbon. For all those of you worried about such things, a new mattress isn’t even an option.
So here is everything you need to know about buying a used mattress. Is it safe? Is it healthy? What should you look for while used mattress shopping? What about bed bugs? We will answer all your questions and more if you keep reading.
Why Buy a Used Mattress?
The biggest question here is twofold. The first part queries what exactly we mean when we say ‘used’. The second part questions why you would choose to buy a used mattress instead of buying a new one in the first place. Let’s tackle these questions one at a time.
What Do We Mean by a Used Mattress?
When we think of a used mattress, we immediately picture an old, stained, smelly thing that has been discarded. This is because of how long it takes for a mattress to decompose and how expensive it is to have them removed from outside your home.
As a result of these combined factors, the old, stinking mattress discarded at the side of the road is a sight we are all familiar with. These are not the types of used mattresses we are talking about. When we refer to used mattresses, we mean those that still have some life in them.
Picture the scenario: newly retired middle-class golf pro-Sammy and his wife buy a new mattress – but it’s too soft for Sammy’s back. The new mattress lasts them three months total before he can’t take it anymore. While she is out shopping one day, he orders a new, state-of-the-art mattress that can connect to the Wi-Fi and fluctuates in hardness.
In this example, Sammy and his wife have a nearly new mattress that has hardly been used, yet Sammy can’t bear to sleep in it for another night. His wife takes it to Facebook Marketplace and sells it to a couple in need for half the price they would pay in the shop.
This leads us to the second part of the question, why would someone buy a used mattress in the first place?
Why Buy a Used Mattress instead of a New Mattress?
There are a whole variety of reasons that someone might opt for a used mattress over a new one. The main reason is always the same: it’s the price.
New mattresses can cost upwards of $1,000, especially those with therapeutic support. The modern hybrid mattress that combines both memory foam and springs to create optimum comfort for the user can run as high as $5,000. If you want to go to the highest end mattress available, they can cost more than $140,000.
With prices this high, and with even a budget mattress costing around $600, it’s no wonder that some of us can’t afford a brand new one. Cost alone doesn’t factor in all of the other factors, either.
In the west especially, there are those worried about off-gassing in mattresses. “off-gassing” is the term used to describe the scent that a new mattress emits when you first bring it into your house. Although usually nothing to be concerned about, it has become a notorious symbol of modern luxury.
We buy a mattress good enough to have all the mod cons, take it home, unwrap it, and it still smells like the factory that made it. We are so privileged in the modern lifestyle that we think there must be something wrong with the mattress or that the smell is chemicals coming from the fabric. Many people will return a new mattress to the store simply because they can’t sleep with the chemical smell.
Other Reasons to get a used mattress
Some other reasons someone might get a used mattress include being donated one by a friend who has hardly used it. You might buy a used mattress yourself if you need a specialist type of mattress, that either cost too much to buy new, or that they perhaps don’t manufacture anymore.
Last but not least, environmentalists who want to avoid the carbon footprint of a new mattress might spring for an old one, instead. We’ll cover this in more detail, later on.
The Pros and Cons of a Used Mattress
Should you buy a used mattress? We weighed all the pros and cons to help you make the best decision over which mattress is right for you. Just as it will save you money, that secondhand mattress comes with a few risks, too.
The pros of buying a used mattress:
- You save money
- You get a better mattress for your budget
- It’s better for the environment
- Mattresses can be upcycled
The cons of buying a used mattress:
- There may be bed bugs or termites
- It needs to be cleaned properly or it isn’t sanitary
- You have a limited choice
- If buying from someone’s home, you don’t get delivery included
As you can see, the used mattress debate has good arguments on either side.
The Environmental impact of Renewing your Mattress
When we say that buying a used mattress is better for the environment than buying a new one, we mean this across multiple levels.
From the outset, opting for an already existing product instead of ordering a new product to be made reduces the resource cost to zero.
Next, the new mattress needs to be put together in a factory, which takes fuel to run and costs carbon in the workers it needs to power it.
After it has been produced, the modern mattress is often vacuum-sealed inside a plastic wrapping for delivery. Companies do this so that they can fit more products into one truck. If you buy secondhand from someone’s home, you bypass this step, too.
When a mattress has finally reached the end of its life as a useful product, it needs to be disposed of. Mattresses take anything up to 120 years to decompose in landfill sites. Mattresses can be recycled and can be hauled away by whoever brings your new mattress for this purpose. There are also recycling centers that accept mattresses and will break them down into usable parts.
The moral of this story is that we should recycle our mattresses instead of dumping them. Since selling or passing on a mildly used one is a form of recycling, we have to disagree with the big brand mattress suppliers. We don’t think we should be buying a new one every ten years. If we do upgrade, however, we can at least be sure to recycle the old product.
Are Used Mattresses Bad for your Health?
There is a risk of cross-contamination between people, should you buy their old mattress. Be sure to check carefully for evidence of termites, bedbugs, or other insects, before you buy it. After you buy it, you need to look out for these things for a full year.
You should never sleep on a mattress you find lying outside if you don’t know who put it there or how long it has lain for. It might have fleas, which like to breed on fabric outdoors if the conditions are correct.
There is also the risk of transference of disease. It may seem far-fetched but remember the story of the people who were gifted the smallpox blankets. You probably won’t want to sleep on a mattress that someone has died on or that they have suffered from something like Coronavirus in, either.
We also have to consider the impact of a bad mattress on your ability to get a good night’s sleep. The older the mattress is, the more it loses in terms of comfort and support. Memory foam mattresses will sag in the middle, while springs will break in a sprung mattress. Latex bedding lasts the longest but also sleeps hottest, meaning your body heat creates a bacterial breeding ground.
Why Used Mattress Use gets a Bad Reputation?
Mattress sellers have had a big hand in telling us that we should never sleep on an old mattress. In fact, if you type “why you shouldn’t sleep on a secondhand mattress” into Google search, you will get a wealth of articles about exactly that… and if you look at who wrote these articles, they are almost exclusively written by mattress sellers.
Used mattresses get a bad reputation because sellers of new mattresses want us to spend money with them. The truth is many mattresses will last for years. Some sellers sport lifetime guarantees for high-end mattresses, and yet they still end up in the dump. Mattress sellers tell us they last between 7 and 10 years, but if your mattress is still sprung well and holding its own after a decade, there’s really no need to replace it.
Used Mattress Reviews
We spoke to people who have decided to save by buying their mattresses second-hand.
Here are the things they liked:
That cheap price can’t be replaced when you have no extra cash.
Not dealing with hire purchase agreements and salespeople were to most folk’s liking.
The Lack of Off-Gassing
Those that hate new mattress smells, love an old mattress.
Buying used is better for the environment in a myriad of ways.
Here are the things they disliked:
The Fear of Disease
Nobody wants to lie on a mattress that might hurt their health.
The Threat of Infestation
Termites are common in the west and bedbugs are terrifying.
Usually, a mattress bought from someone’s home means you need to pick it up yourself.
What’s the best-used mattress you can buy?
If you must buy a used mattress, make sure that you look for signs of wear and tear. If you see an insect, don’t buy it. If you see stains and unsightly tears, don’t buy it.
A good used mattress will have plenty of shape left in it, won’t smell bad, and won’t have insects in it. There are also certain brands which are best for longevity purposes. Consider the following brands of a mattress when buying used:
1. Saatva mattresses come with roughly 15-year warranties.
2. Latex mattresses last longest, so consider latex when buying used.
3. IKEA is selling a full foam mattress with a 25-year guarantee.
4. Any Puffy Mattress, their best have lifelong guarantees.
5. The Emma mattress range have long warranties for defects, too.
Used Mattress Purchasing FAQs
In this section, we cover all of the commonly asked questions we hear regarding buying a used mattress.
Q: Where do you buy used mattresses?
A: You might find them on Gumtree, on Craigslist, on Facebook Marketplace, or from a reputable used mattress seller. We recommend the latter since used mattresses for sale in a store are likely to have been treated for sanitation purposes.
Q: Is it bad to buy a used mattress?
A: No, it isn’t a bad thing to buy a used mattress. If it has only had gentle use, it could be a wise investment. Be sure to check for signs of insects, staining, or sagging in the middle before you buy.
Q: Can you sanitize a used mattress?
A: You can sanitize a used mattress with a steam cleaner. Once you have steamed it out, use a disinfectant spray followed by a scrub with liquid soap. Lastly, steam clean a second time to remove all soap.
Q: Is it gross to get a used mattress?
A: It is no grosser than buying clothing from the thrift store. A mattress can be sanitized between users. If you consider a hospital bed, they do not change the mattress between patients. Rather, it is sanitized and ready for the next person. It isn’t gross; it’s common sense.
Q: Why should you never buy a secondhand mattress?
A: If you listen to those that sell mattresses, they will tell you never to buy a used mattress. We say they are safe if they are properly sanitized and have only seen light use. You should never buy a secondhand mattress from a house that had infestation problems or from a diseased home.
Q: How much should a used mattress cost?
A: Typically, a used mattress should cost about 30% of the original price. If it has seen little use, this price can be higher. This means you could get a $1,000 mattress for $300 if you shop smart.
Q: How long does a mattress last?
A: Mattress sellers say you should have a mattress for 7-10 years. Some mattresses come with 25-year guarantees, and some come with lifelong guarantees. The more expensive the mattress, the longer it will tend to last.
Q: Can you trade in an old mattress?
A: You can take a mattress to a recycling center to trade it in. You can also request that the delivery drivers delivering any new mattress take away your old one. You can’t usually trade in your mattress against the cost of a new one, but there may be firms offering a special deal, so it is best to check.
Q: Can you catch diseases from old mattresses?
A: It is possible, although unlikely. The more real possibility is that you bring some sort of insect into your homes, such as termites, lice, or fleas. Be careful about where you buy your used mattress from and always check for signs of bedbugs.
Q: Can I donate my old mattress?
A: Yes, you can donate an old mattress. Cat and dog homes sometimes appeal to them, as do homeless shelters. If it is past its best, however, you should have it recycled.
Should You Buy a Used Mattress? Our Verdict
The choice is yours, but we say that buying a used mattress can save you a lot of money. If you do go through with it, though, be sure to check for signs of insect life, sages or bulges, busted springs, or even creaking, which will annoy you as you move around.
Buying used is better for the environment in resources, carbon costs of shipping, and even in recycling old mattresses that the delivery drivers take away. The downsides of buying used include a lack of guarantees, potential for cross-contamination of insects or health problems, and a societal prevalence to look down our noses at those who buy secondhand.
A used mattress gets you more bedding for your money. If you are thorough, do your research, and don’t buy anything with bugs in it, it could be the best way to get a good night’s sleep.