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Can You Burn a Memory Foam Mattress?

Can You Burn a Memory Foam Mattress?

A mattress is essential in your day-to-day life. A good mattress offers you a comfortable night’s rest to prepare you for the next day’s activities. When you wake up with stiff back or body numbness, it’s time to get a new mattress!

The trouble arises when you are faced with the big question; how to get rid of the old mattress? Burning is usually the most straightforward answer. However, you should know the benefits and drawbacks of burning a foam mattress.

Can You Burn a Foam Mattress?

You should not burn a foam mattress. While it is possible, as memory foam mattresses are very flammable, it is not recommended. This act is illegal in most cities, but it also has adverse effects on the environment and the health of whoever would do the burning.

Mattresses contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These compounds consist primarily of flame retardants, carcinogens, formaldehyde, polyurethane foam, etc. Burning a foam mattress causes the release of these highly toxic compounds into the environment.

Memory foam mattresses contain similar materials to the other regular mattresses. This means that burning a memory foam mattress will also release these toxic fumes, which are equally dangerous to the environment and health. So you should not burn a memory foam mattress.

What Happens When You Burn a Mattress?

Burning a mattress breaks down the manufacturing material and releases toxic fumes. Mattresses are made from plastic and foam materials. These materials are very harmful to animals and humans.

Setting a mattress on fire means releasing these harmful chemicals into the air. Once in the air, they come down during rainfall and make their way into the water supply and even the food we eat.

Is Burning a Mattress Illegal?

In cities like Texas, Michigan and many others, burning mattresses is illegal. Though some states still lack strict rules on burning wastes like mattresses, it is highly prohibited. It is hazardous and a risk to the environment.

Burning mattresses on state land or in public places attract fines and penalties. Burning on private land will not put you on the right side of the law. The fumes released by the burning mattress will spread out to other areas causing health concerns for the people living around. 

How Fast Does a Mattress Burn?

Mattresses compose of synthetic, flammable materials that ensure it burns at a very rapid rate. However, the exact time boils down to the quality and size of the mattress.

Recently, most mattresses feature fire retardants to prevent them from easily catching fire. The downside to this technology is that while it is more difficult for mattresses like this to catch fire, it is just as challenging to put the fire out when they do catch fire—putting properties and the life of people and animals close by at risk.

Do Burning Mattresses Contaminate the Soil?

Burning old mattresses contaminates the soil. This is one of the major reasons burning wastes like old mattresses are highly prohibited in most states.

Burning causes toxic gases to be released, and these toxins can easily get into the soil. These VOC’s and other CFCs end up contaminating the soil.

Do Burning Mattresses Cause Air Pollution?

Burning mattresses do cause air pollution. The fumes released into the air while burning old mattresses contain harmful chemical substances. When these toxic fumes get out, they spread throughout the environment, polluting the air in that environment.

Air pollution is one of the adverse effects of burning waste like mattresses. You should avoid burning mattresses when looking to dispose of them for your safety and other people living around the community.

Air pollution caused by such toxic fumes can result in several medical conditions like respiratory infection, trachea cancer, etc.

Can I Burn a Mattress on a Bonfire?

You cannot burn your old mattress on a bonfire. Burning a mattress on a bonfire is illegal. Burning your waste on bonfires in most cities is highly prohibited, even on private land.

Apart from its blatant illegality, burning a mattress on a bonfire is also very dangerous. The toxic fumes released during this process cause both air and soil pollution. In addition to this, inhaling these toxic fumes might cause severe medical issues like breathing difficulty.

How to Dispose of an Old Mattress?

Your alternatives for getting rid of a bed should not include flipping them by the roadside or burning them. While these seem like the quickest way to dispose of an old mattress, it is not advised. Improper disposal of a mattress can harm the environment or even other people.

There are other more acceptable options to dispose of your old mattress.  Here are five easy ways you can dispose of your old mattress.

1. Sell It or Give Away

This is a hassle-free and easy way to dispose of your old mattress. You can simply give it away to someone who might need it. Depending on the mattress’s condition, it might still be helpful for someone in need.

Also, you can sell it at a lower rate and make a little back on your initial purchase. Many organizations buy these used mattresses to recycle and resell them. Another option is listing your mattress for sale in your local newspaper ads.

2. Mattress Recycling

Up to 90% of your old mattress can be recycled. You can take it to your local recycling depot to check if they recycle or repurpose it for something else around your home.

The foams can be broken down and sent off to generate energy or be repurposed as industrial carpet underlay. And the mattress springs can be repurposed and used for DIY projects.

3. Donate the Mattress

For mattresses in good condition, you can donate them to any charitable organization. You can call a charity, a thrift store, or a non-profit organization and inquire about their donation policies.

The Salvation Army, Homeless shelter, Goodwill, and some organizations accept old mattress donations. If the mattress is in mint condition and free from bed bugs, passing it to someone will be the best option.

4. Contact the Local Authority

You can contact your local authority or garbage disposal department where the mattress is damaged and can’t be repurposed, sold or given out. Your local authority might have a service in place to dispose of such items.

Mattress burning is illegal, so contacting the authorities would be best. Some councils don’t have this service in place, and others charge a fee as it falls outside the regular household waste collection scope. This could be the easiest method to dispose of your old mattress.

5. Cut it up for Recycling and Disposal:

If none of these options works for you, you can choose to cut the mattress into smaller pieces and dispose of them little by little. All you need is a hammer, saw and knife to disassemble the mattress and then put it in your household garbage over time, and you will dispose of the mattress in no time.


There are many options available to dispose of old mattresses. You can donate, sell, give away or recycle your mattress. Burning a mattress is illegal and harmful to the environment.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens to a mattress after ten years?

In 10 years, an average mattress will double in size. This is caused by the dust mites and other detritus filling up the mattress.

How do I know if my memory foam mattress is worn out?

After a while, the memory foam weakens. Your mattress is worn out when the body impressions stay longer and go deeper. Soon, the mattress starts to feel and look uneven.

Can Heat Ruin a Mattress?

Yes, high heat, moisture and freezing temperatures can ruin your mattress. You are expected to keep your mattress away from high temperatures and humidity. Avoid storing in the garage or basement.

How Can I Tell if My Mattress is Donatable?

Mattresses that have exceeded their lifespan, are broken, infested with bugs, or are heavily stained are often rejected by charity organizations. Check your mattress for any serious issues before donating. It is better to recycle damaged mattresses than donate them.

How Do You Fix a Sunken Mattress?

You cannot fix a sunken mattress. You can only choose to send it back to the manufacturer for repairs or replace it.