Step by Step Guide to Breaking Down a Mattress and Box Spring

Cutting Up a Mattress and Box Spring for Easy Disposal

Each year an estimated 20 million mattresses and box springs are disposed of into local landfills. Many people find mattresses difficult to get rid of, and don’t realize they can be broken down and recycled. Mattresses and box springs are composed of steel, wood and cotton, and can be upcycled and recycled, rather than being disposed of. This not only benefits the environment, but also conserves valuable resources.

Take a look at our step by step guide to breaking down your mattress and box spring.

6 Steps to Breaking Down a Mattress

Before starting, we suggest wearing a pair of cut-resistant gloves and protective eye wear to avoid loose particles from getting into your eyes. If you have the available space, we also suggest taking the mattress outside to avoid having a mess in your home.

Supplies You’ll Need

Here are some necessary tools you’ll need before getting started:

  • Utility knife, seam ripper and/or shop box cutter to cut fabric.
  • Heavy pair of pliers to remove staples.
  • Bolt cutter and/or wire clippers to cut springs.
  • Saw for cutting the box spring frame.
  • Boxes and/or bags to hold mattress parts.

Step 1: Cut and Pull the Cord From the Mattress Edges

Find where the piping ends and use a seam ripper or utility knife to break the thread. Remove the cord from the mattress by pulling it away from the fabric, repeat this process on the other side.


Step 2: Remove the Mattress Sides

Once the binding cords are removed, you can pull the sides off of the mattress.

Step 3: Pull the Top Layer of Fabric Off the Mattress

When you pull back the fabric, you’ll reveal a layer of fluffy padding or foam. Watch out for staples binding the outside fabric as you pull the layer off the mattress. Snip the staples away until the top layer is completely free.

TIP: To make breaking down the mattress easier with some mattresses, remove buttons or tabs on both sides of the quilting all at once with a seam ripper.

Step 4: Gather the Fabric and Interior Padding

For this step you’ll need your gloves. Use your hands to sweep the inside fluff into a garbage bag, this stuffing is typically made up of cotton and foam, which can be recycled at a facility.

Step 5: Remove the Bottom Fiber Layer

Pull away the thin layer of fabric at the bottom. Your mattress might also have an added layer of foam cushioning for extra support. Once removed, you can break this layer down to recycle or compost.

Step 6: Cut & Recycle the Metal Springs

After you clear away the fluff and fabric, you’ll reveal the interior springs. You can cut this layer into smaller pieces with a bolt or wire cutter to take to your local metal recycling center or scrap yard. Or if you’re feeling crafty, you can upcycle the innerspring to make wine racks, pot holders and more.


How to Take Apart a Box Spring in 4 Steps

Now that you’ve broken down the mattress, it’s time to start cutting the box spring. Grab a saw and get ready to break it down.

Step 1: Remove Reinforced Corners and the Dust Cover

Most box springs have plastic pieces stapled onto the corners for added protection. Use a screwdriver to remove these pieces and set aside for recycling. Also, if your mattress has a dust cover, cut and tear it away to reveal the wood frame underneath.


Step 2: Pull Staples Binding Fabric

Use pliers to remove the staples holding the wood frame to the fabric around the bottom edges. Pull the fabric away from the wood frame with your utility knife.

Step 3: Remove the Fluffy Lining and Fabric

Collect the cotton and foam lining and pile it into a bag to be recycled. Peel away the fabric lining the edges of the box spring until the wood frame is completely exposed.


Step 4: Disassemble the Wood Frame

Use a hand saw or handheld buzz saw to break down the wood frame into smaller pieces. Make sure your work gloves and glasses are on. You can reuse these wood pieces for small garden projects or throw them in the a compost pile, if you happen to have one.

TIP: Some box springs have metal parts in addition to the wood frame. Like the bedsprings, you’ll need to cut this chunk of metal into smaller pieces before you take it to a recycling center.

Recycle Your Leftover Materials

After these steps you’re done! You saved your old mattress and box spring from the landfill, keep in mind this process can take an hour or two of time, be sure to take your time and be safe when using any tools and power tools. Remember if you have items that need to be disposed of at the landfill call us at Dumpster Rental Inc!

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