Is It Safe to Buy Used Mattresses?

Maybe money is tight. Maybe your friend or family member is willing to give you a second-hand mattress. Maybe you’re going to college and sleeping on a dorm mattress.

Whatever the reason you might be wondering if it’s safe to sleep on a used mattress. Personally, I wouldn’t, and I have some reasons why in this post. But also have some tips if the only option is to buy a used mattress.

It’s Disgusting

The number one thing that pops into people’s heads about buying a used mattress is that most find it disgusting. I agree, but some people like to point out – you sleep on a used mattress when you stay in a hotel or hospital.

The hotel or hospital bed is technically “used” but this does not mean the debate is over. The fear of a used bed stems from bed bugs and other germs/nasty stuff. Hotels (any good hotel), or hospital will spray and clean for those things.

On top of the spraying for bed bugs, hotels will change the sheets far more often and clean them more vigorously than any regular Joe. Bed sheets and bedding is changed every day when you stay in them; I don’t know anyone who does that. That level of changing the sheets and bedding keeps that bed a lot cleaner when compared to a used mattress you’re trying to get from someone who might have never used any sheets at all.

The best part is that many of the hotels even used mattress encasements to block bugs, germs, dead skin, and whatever may come off of people. The mattress encasement is cleaned or replaced every so often. I can barely get anyone I know to buy a mattress protector yet alone get them to clean one, so I’m sure the guy trying to sell his used mattress never even used a mattress encasement or even heard of one. 

Some hotels will even take it a step further and pay another company to come out regularly and clean their mattresses. I’ve never seen a person who would clean their mattress and replace the bedding as often as a hotel does. Sleeping on a used mattress is not the same as sleeping on the hotel bed.

As for hospital beds, come on. It’s a hospital, everything is kept clean, and the mattress is no different. Many, if not all, of hospital beds have a protective easy to clean layer on them. Some don’t even re-use the sheets so they can keep the hospital bills high.

Used Mattress Is The Only Option

I know money can be tight and you might need a mattress. I want to talk more about your options below.

But if money is super tight and a used mattress is the only option then I would recommend at least getting a mattress encasement like this one here* to put a barrier between you and the mattress.

The mattress encasement will help with any bed bug/dust mite issues. Also, if you spill something in the bed or sweat, you’ll keep the mattress from seeing it. A mattress is like a giant sponge and the more bodily fluids or any liquid touch it, the more it wears out.

You Don’t Buy Used Underwear?

I think buying a used mattress is like buying used underwear. Yes, that is gross, and yes it’s kind of the same thing. Let me explain.

Your mattress can experience sweat, urine, feces, vomit, water, spilled drinks, etc. – your underwear can also experience the same things. Then let’s not forget that the mattress will see “adult time” too.

About the only thing that is different is that you can throw the underwear in the washer, but you can’t do that with the mattress. If anything it would be more reasonable to buy used underwear since it’s been through the wash.

I know, the mattress you’re looking at “has never seen that stuff.” And that might be true, but it’s still a gamble.

You never know, the guy before you could have gotten drunk one night and peed on the bed or vomited on it and forgot all about it. Or suppressed the memory.

Buying New

I know the reason why you even consider a used mattress is because of cost. You go to the mattress stores, and you see a mattress in the thousands and know you can’t afford that. But that is your first mistake; you went to the mattress stores.

It feels like you’re being robbed by these mattress stores but that extra cost is due to them needing a physical location, they pay for the lights, salespeople, and so on. That is all overhead, and they have a lot of it.

But if you buy online something you find that it’s priced pretty affordable if you ask me. Buying online means they don’t have the overhead like the mattress stores do.

I think the best part is when I can sometimes find new mattresses online for the same (sometimes lower) price than someone selling a used mattress store brand on craigslist ( I can’t believe the prices that some people will charge for their used mattress). It makes sense if you think about it. Let say for example the guy selling his 3-year-old mattress paid over a grand for it and now wants a couple hundred for it. Pfft… you can buy a new one for around the same price online. Sure he took a good bit off, but it’s still used.

Check out the reviews which are something you can’t do at a mattress store. If you ask me buying online is a far better way to buy a mattress then a mattress store since you don’t have an annoying salesperson pushing the mattress of the month.

Age of Mattress

If the mattress you want to get is over 5 to 7 years old then its time for a new one.

This holds true for the box spring as well. Many people don’t realize that the box spring wears out too and can cause a mattress to be uncomfortable. I would recommend getting a simple platform bed frame to support your mattress.

Bed bugs can hide just as easy in a box spring as they would in a mattress so no point of taking it if you do get a used mattress.

We talk more about platform bed frames here.


Bed bugs are a concern, but mold is another one with used mattresses. The mattress could have gotten wet with rainwater or urine. Once that happens it’s hard to get it fully dry. We try to help you out with getting it dry here but sometimes you can’t get it completely dry.

If the mattress got soaked what they would do is try to sell it. It looks dry, but they want to get rid of it because they learned their lesson and will use a mattress protector or encasement from now on. So to recoup some money or maybe warranty is not fixing it they sell it on craigslist.

Mold is one reason if you have allergies to avoid a used mattress. Don’t forget that not only mold you should worry about but also if they ever had a dog or cat as their dander could be soaked in the mattress too. Let’s not forget our little friend dust mites either.

Guest Room

Sometimes you just need a used mattress for a second bedroom. You might also be getting the mattress for free (sweet!).

That’s cool, just make sure to get a mattress encasement still as we mentioned above. Even if it’s from family, I would still get it. It feels like a mind trick to me; a nice new mattress encasement can make the used “feel” new.

Avoid “Like New.”

You can sometimes find people selling “like new” or “new” mattresses on Craigslist or sometimes I’ve seen them put up signs around town. These mattresses are really cheap, and they say it’s “new.”

What these mattresses sometimes are a returned or a warranty item. A customer has a warranty issue, and warranty decides to replace their mattress for them. But where do the old mattresses go?

There are companies that will buy used warranty mattresses and clean them with some harsh chemicals. Stuff so strong that it leaves a lasting smell on them. The problem is that they don’t care enough and don’t do a detailed job of fully cleaning it.

They’ll take any mattress that they know they can sell and clean it up. I don’t get the warm fuzzies from places that try to sell these mattresses as it seems dishonest and a way to make a quick buck.

I do know some that will strip the fabric and heat the springs and frame to clean it fully, and that’s okay. But the sketchy ones don’t do that and will only do an outer cleaning.

Either way, I personally would prefer to buy a new mattress online instead due to the reasons we talked about above.