Here is how to get rid of a mattress for free. A mattress is one of the things that virtually all low income tenants leave behind. They are also one of the largest and most expensive items for a landlord to get rid of.
If you have been a landlord for over a month, odds are, you have had to dispose of a tenants junk. If you are a low-income, or Section 8 landlord, it is 100% certain you have had to dispose of a lot of junk.
A mattress or box spring costs between $35 and $50 to get rid of, unless you dispose of it when you buy a mattress. There are some companies that might pick them up for free and donate them to a worthy cause, but not mattress left behind in a low-income rental situation. They were probably originally received for free, and even the free pick up folks do not take away the old mattress that are beyond help.
If you have a couch to get rid of, here is a companion post about getting rid of a couch.
I had two queen mattresses and a queen box spring to get rid of; it would have been well over $100 in disposal costs. It takes about ten minutes, maximum, per piece. $100 for 30 minutes of work, I am in!
In my case, I have one last remaining section 8 tenant that I have given notice to move out. She has been with me for several years, and the drama is always there. Extra people living in the unit, using my rental as storage for her friends, extra garbage left outside, etc. But these behaviors are not unique to my tenant; they are common behaviors for many Section 8 and low income tenants.
I had a water leak in the basement that dripped a bit of water onto the floor, and whatever else was being stored there. Luckily, I had a floor drain that all of the water could go to. It wasn’t a lot of water, but two mattresses and a box spring were being stored there by the tenant.
One thing you should note with lower income tenants, when they buy a new item, and need to dispose of the old item, they keep it anyway. Even if the disposal is free, they think they can use the old mattress as a backup. Forget about them spending money to get rid of a mattress. It doesn’t matter that the old one was over twenty years old, and was junk when they got it five years ago, from another person. The number of stains on it doesn’t matter. The fact it has mold, broken springs or support frame, or a torn cover is fine too, for a backup.
When the tenants have a ‘free’ and close place to put it, they just move the mattress there. Like the basement of my rental. I can get rid of things before they move out, on my schedule, or wait until they move out and I have a month’s worth of work to remove it. Forget about charging them money to get rid of anything, they do not have any money. Forget about using the damage deposit, it will be used up anyway.
The first thing you need to do is get the mattresses onto your truck, and away from the rental. I find it easier to drive to my back yard and start the disposal mattress process there, rather than attempt to do it on-site where I might not have the tools that are necessary for the job.
Whether there are bedbugs in the mattress, or not, doesn’t matter; the process is the same. With a bedbug mattress, you may want to let the mattress sit outside for a few days to let the bedbugs run away, if they will. I have taken apart many bedbug mattresses too, if you don’t get rid of them, they sit somewhere full of the bedbugs only to cause you more problems later. It makes me itch as I write this… I have never had an issue bringing bedbugs into my own house, or anywhere else, when I have dismantled a bedbug mattress, but it is a distinct possibility it could happen. Be careful.
Generally the tools needed for a disposal of a mattress are minimal. A good quality sharp utility knife and a roll of twine will do it. I buy baler twine from the local farm store. It’s cheap and you get a lifetime supply for not very much money. A pair of decent gloves also helps. With a box spring, a circular saw, or a reciprocating saw will also be needed.
Start by laying the mattress flat on the ground. Make sure you have plenty of room to work around it. You want to move around the mattress, not move the mattress around so that you can work on it. Proceed to run your sharp utility knife all around the entire perimeter, making sure that the knife cuts all the way through the cover. Complete the cut when your knife meets up with the place you started.
You should now have a mattress that has a 360 degree cut around the entire perimeter. Now is a chance to get a workout. Don’t pay money for a workout; tearing apart a mattress is a bit of exercise. Another savings!
Pull off the cover from the top of the mattress. All of the staples should just come loose, and the cover should peel off. A decent pair of leather gloves will help prevent any cuts from a staple or broken spring. The cover really isn’t hard to pull off, once you get started. When you get the top off, turn the mattress over and pull off the bottom cover (which is now on top, since you turned it over…)
When you have done it right, the finished mattress looks like a 100% metal set of springs. I haul these springs to our local recycling center, for a proper disposal where the springs can be recycled into something more useful. Some scrappers will pick up the springs for free, if you call them. If it was a real fancy mattress, you may have a bunch of individual springs, and those are more of a mess.
The box spring is similar. Make sure you are starting from the top side, as the bottom likely has more fasteners on the cover. The thing about a box spring, is the covering is much thinner. Run your utility knife around the edge, just like you did with the mattress. Pull of as much off the fabric as you can.
Notice the tag on this box spring, still attached. Never remove a mattress tag from a mattress, unless you are disposing of it. It is a violation of federal law. I know people that have went to jail for a long time because they took a tag of a mattress! (sarc)
You may see a piece of cardboard or other light platform after you remove the top fabric. Next, pull the bottom fabric off, just like the mattress. The corners typically have a plastic piece stapled to them, which takes a stronger pull to remove.
Once you get all the fabric off, you should have a wooden frame, similar to this one. From there, just get a circular saw, or a reciprocating saw, and cut it up. If you use a circular saw, it will have a bunch of kickback, so be careful.
Bring the springs to a recycling center, or sell them for scrap. Stack the wood in a pile, and burn it, or dispose of it. Roll the mattress covers into a nice small roll, tie it up with twine, and dispose of it in a regular garbage barrel. You get a workout, and save $100+.
Here is a method of getting rid of a couch without costing your landlord anything. This is preferable to leaving it in the garage for your landlord to dispose of at the landlord’s expense and time.
The moral of all this? Next time, get better tenants.
Are you a landlord that has had to get rid of a tenant’s mattress? How did you do it, and what did it cost you?
Are you a tenant that has left a mattress behind for a landlord to get rid of? Did you get charged for it?