Selling a used mattress is a multi-step process that includes determining a reasonable selling price, researching applicable state laws, pinpointing a sales venue, and providing sufficient product information for prospective buyers. This guide for selling used mattresses includes step-by-step instructions to follow in order to facilitate a successful transaction — but be warned: most used mattress sellers will only recuperate a small percentage of the original product price.
Step 1: Determine a Fair Price
Generally speaking, a used mattress will command a resale price that is roughly equivalent to 20% to 30% of the original product price. If a mattress originally costs $1,000, then expect to resell it for $200 to $300; if the original cost is $2,000, then the resale price will probably fall between $400 and $600.
In addition to original price, here are a few more factors that may affect the resale price of a used mattress:
- Number of years it’s been used: The average mattress will need to be replaced after six to seven years of consistent nightly use. A mattress that has been used for three years or less will command a higher price than one that has been used for longer.
- Topper or protector use: Mattress toppers and protectors can be used to preserve the comfort layer of a mattress over time. A mattress that has primarily been used with a topper and/or protector will typically be in much better shape than one that has not been used with these accessories.
- Consistent or sporadic use: A used mattress that has been used on a nightly basis will typically command a lower price-point than one that has primarily been used as a guest bed on an inconsistent basis.
- Current mattress condition: Assuming the mattress was brand new when it was originally purchased, how much has its quality declined over time? Is it ‘Like New’, ‘Very Good’, ‘Good’, ‘Acceptable’, or in ‘Poor Condition’? Factors that affect the condition of the mattress include:
- Sagging or indentations in the mattress surface that measure one inch or deeper.
- Splits or cracks in the sleep surface.
- Coils, wires, and other metal parts protruding through the side wall.
- Issues with the cover, such as loose threads or broken zippers.
- Burns, cuts, scrapes, or other types of physical destruction.
- Permanent stains, such as bodily fluids or food.
- Lingering smells, including odors from tobacco products.
- Buildup of dust mites and other allergens.
- Sellers perks: Is the owner willing to deliver the mattress themselves? Are pillows, pads, and other accessories included with the used mattress? Incentives like these can help used mattress sellers add to the resale price.
- Brand: Mattresses manufactured by high-profile companies will usually command a higher price-point than those made by less prominent companies — but this factor is less likely to play a significant role compared to the other criteria listed above.
Step 2: Research Mattress Resale Laws and Regulations
Now that you have a ballpark price-point in mind, let’s look at some laws and regulations guiding the practice of selling used mattresses in the United States. It’s important to note that most mattress resale laws are enforced at the state level; as such, the rules vary from state to state.
Legal considerations for selling a used mattress include:
- Cleaning and sanitizing: In some states, used mattresses must be properly cleaned and disinfected before they can be sold by anyone, including private individual sellers. Approved methods often include commercial laundering, steam cleaning, and/or chemical treatment.
- Re-covering: Some states will only approve the sale of a used mattress is new cover ticking is used. Other states prohibit mattress owners from re-covering their mattress in order to hide stains or physical damage.
- Flammability: Mattress flammability is enforced at the federal level, specifically the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). According to 16 CFR Part 1633, the ‘peak rate of heat release’ for a mattress may not exceed 200 kilowatts during the standard 30-minute safety test, and the ‘total heat release’ may not exceed 15 megajoules during the first 10 minutes of this test. Mattress owners who are unsure about their model’s flammability status should contact the manufacturer or, alternatively, the CPSC.
Other factors apply to businesses and brands, but not individual sellers. One example is ‘tagging’. In some states, color-coded tags are used to indicate if a used mattress has been properly cleaned and disinfected, or indicate if mattresses that have been rebuilt from used or recycled materials. In virtually every state where tagging laws exist, they do not apply to individuals selling mattresses to other individuals.
Be sure to carefully research all applicable state laws and regulations. This information is typically found through the state’s departments of health and human services, consumer affairs, licensing, and/or agriculture.
Step 3: Write an Advertisement
When crafting a used mattress ad, it’s important to remain truthful about its present condition. Be sure to take several photographs of the mattress from different angles to emphasize its height and size, as well as licensing tags if they are intact. When listing out qualities and characteristics of the mattress in the ad, be sure to include the following:
- The mattress size (Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, California King, or specialty size)
- The mattress height, in inches
- The construction of the mattress, which includes:
- Materials in the comfort system, such as polyfoam, memory foam, latex, and/or microcoil layers
- The support core. Springs, foam, latex, or air chambers?
- Fabrics used in the cover, such as cotton, polyester, rayon, wool, and/or lyocell
- The age of the mattress, in years (or months if applicable)
- Whether the mattress was used as a primary sleep surface or a guest bed
- Whether a mattress pad or protector was used
Finally, be sure to list the mattress price somewhere in the ad. Also indicate if the price is negotiable with the abbreviation OBO (Or Best Offer).
Step 4: Choose a Selling Venue
In most cases, mattress owners will not be able to sell their used model to a brick-and-mortar retailer. These establishments usually prefer to exclusively sell new mattress models. In the event that a brick-and-mortar store agrees to purchase a used mattress, the resale price will typically be quite low.
Used mattress sellers typically have better luck using online marketplace sites like Amazon and Craigslist. These sites enable mattress owners to post advertisements for their used mattress, sell directly to other individuals, and coordinate delivery/shipping or pickup details.
Community-based websites, forums, and social media pages can also be valuable resources for used mattress sellers. Many allow users to post ads directly on their sites. Sellers can supplement their digital advertising with physical postings in local newspapers and on bulletin boards throughout their community.
Before attempting to sell a mattress to an individual purchaser, here are a few important considerations:
- Online marketplace sites regulate individual transactions to ensure that both parties are satisfied. In the event that a purchaser does not pay the full price or otherwise fails to fulfill their complete obligation, sellers should reach out to site personnel immediately.
- Mattress warranties are never transferable to secondhand owners, regardless of whether or not the warranty is still valid. Be sure to clarify this point with potential buyers, as they may expect their mattress to be covered under the original warranty.
- Most experts agree that May, June, July, November, and December are the best times of the year to sell a used mattress. These months precede new product rollouts from most leading mattress brands in January and August, and sellers face less competition in the marketplace. Likewise, January and August are generally considered the worst times to sell a used mattress.
- Whether or not a seller includes ‘OBO’ in their price listing, chances are they will need to negotiate with potential buyers. This is why it may be advantageous to sell the mattress at 40% to 50% of the original product price. Even if buyers haggle the price down, the seller may still net a profit of 20% to 30% of the original price.
- Expect visit requests from potential buyers who wish to view the mattress in person before finalizing their purchase. Sellers are free to decline these requests, but doing so may affect their resale success.
- Sellers are not obligated to deliver the mattress to the buyer. If they choose to do so, then the cost of transporting and handling the item should be factored into the price-point. If they choose not to do so, then they may want to consider deducting mattress transportation costs from the price.
- Remember: it is illegal to sell a mattress that has not been cleaned and sanitized, or is infested with bed bugs. It is also illegal (as well as unethical) to sell a mattress as new if it has been used. Those who mislead potential buyers could face legal ramifications.
Realistically, used mattress sellers are unlikely to earn a substantial amount of money compared to the original price — if they are able to sell the item at all. However, by following the tips listed above, you can improve your odds of resale success.