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Are There Risks With Buying A Used Mattress?

Are There Risks With Buying A Used Mattress?

Mattress Resources
Read Time: 6 minutes
  • Beware of the risks associated with buying a used mattress, including the potential for bed bugs, higher long-term costs, and the absence of a warranty.
  • Although the low initial cost and perceived eco-friendliness might seem like advantages, these benefits can be outweighed by the potential risks and hidden costs of purchasing a used mattress.
  • Even hand-me-down mattresses come with risks, and it’s crucial to inspect for signs of wear, pests, and other potential issues. Considering the health risks and challenges associated with buying a used mattress, it’s generally advisable to opt for a new mattress instead.

Are you shopping on a budget? You might be tempted to go to a thrift store or second-hand shop and pick up a previously owned mattress. Many people consider this route because used mattresses have a low price up-front.

However, there are many risks to buying a used mattress that could cost you more in the long run. From bed bugs to low-quality beds, used mattresses can come with tons of hidden costs. This makes them not worth the trouble.

Bed Bugs

This is probably the biggest risk of buying a used bed because it comes with such severe consequences.

Bed bugs are parasitic insects that feed on humans while we’re sleeping. They don’t spread disease and aren’t dangerous. But they can leave you waking up to itchy welts in the morning. This can interrupt your sleep and cause anxiety. Severe bed bug infestations can even leave you anemic and reduce your home’s value.

The big issue with bed bugs is they’re hard to get rid of. They can hide almost anywhere. They’re resistant to many at-home remedies. And their population can grow large before you realize there’s a problem. To get rid of them, you’ll probably need professional help. This can wind up costing you thousands of dollars.

Many used mattress sellers clean and inspect their products before selling them, but some don’t. However, even an inspected mattress can still have bed bugs. These wily insects are great at hiding and hitchhiking. That means they can often fly right under an inspector’s radar—and right into your home on your used mattress.

Higher Long-Term Costs

Just like virtually every other product out there, mattresses have a shelf life. Most of the time, you should replace your mattress every 5 to 20 years, depending on their materials. However, this life expectancy only applies to new materials.

If you get a mattress that’s already been slept on for a few years, how long the mattress will last is greatly reduced. That means you’ll have to replace your mattress much more often. This could cost you more in the long run.

For example, you could purchase a $300 used mattress that lasts 5 years. Then you’ll have to replace it with another $300 used mattress that lasts another 5 years. Or you could buy a mattress for $500 or less that lasts 10 years. It costs more up-front but less in the long run.

You also don’t know how the previous owner treated their mattress. A bed that looks good in the mattress store might have broken or worn-out components. This might be something you don’t find out until you get your mattress home. If that happens, you might have to replace it almost right after you bought it.

It can be tough to get a good night’s sleep on a saggy mattress. But replacing your current saggy mattress with a mattress that might start sagging in a few months isn’t the solution.

No Warranty

It goes without saying that it’s unlikely a second-hand mattress will come with a warranty. While you might think this is no big deal, it could come back to bite you. Mattress warranties cover all kinds of things, from defects to premature aging.

If your new mattress experiences certain damage while it’s under warranty, you can get it repaired or even get a replacement for free. However, if your used bed has a problem, you could wind up stuck with a broken mattress you have to pay to replace yourself.

Reasons People Purchase Second-Hand Mattresses

Low Initial Cost

It’s no secret that mattresses aren’t cheap, so you might be tempted to get a used one to save a few hundred dollars. It’s easy to see the price tag of a used mattress and think you’re saving money by buying one.

However, there are plenty of high-quality budget mattresses that won’t cost you all that much more than a used mattress. Both innerspring and memory foam mattresses come in a wide price range. Some decent-quality value memory foam or innerspring beds can cost as little as $200 or $300. This isn’t much more than the cost of a used mattress.

If you want specific suggestions for an inexpensive mattress, see our Best Mattress Under $1,000: Reviews & Buyer’s Guide.


Other people might think that buying a used mattress might be better for the environment because it keeps an older mattress out of the trash for a few years or uses less energy and fewer resources.

Again, there are better options. For example, older mattresses are less likely to have been made using eco-friendly manufacturing practices. On the other hand, new mattresses are often made using practices that leave a smaller environmental footprint and create less waste.

Those who want an eco-friendly mattress should look for Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) certifications instead of buying a used one. Shoppers who want to minimize their carbon footprint can even purchase an organic or natural mattress.



Should I accept a hand-me-down mattress?

If someone you know offers you their old mattress, it could be a little different than buying a used one. After all, with a hand-me-down mattress, you have some knowledge of where the mattress came from and its treatment.

However, there are still risks. The old owner might unknowingly give you a mattress with bed bugs. There are also signs of mattress aging that are easy to miss. That means even a friend or family member with good intentions could give you an inferior mattress. Keep that in mind and use your best judgment when deciding whether to accept a hand-me-down mattress.

Are there any health risks in getting a used mattress?

Yes. Pests are a big problem with used mattresses. Bed bugs can cause all kinds of issues like anxiety and insomnia. These can impact your mental health. If there are enough bed bugs in your bed, they can also give you anemia by feeding on you night after night. And scratching bed bug bites can leave you open to skin infection as well as triggering allergy symptoms.

Additionally, a saggy, unsupportive mattress can also cause problems. It’s your mattress’ job to support you and evenly distribute your body weight. If an older used mattress can’t perform this job, it could cause your spine to fall out of alignment and your joints to experience pressure. This could lead to back pain, joint pain, and other problems that disrupt your sleep.

Is there a safe way to buy a second-hand mattress?

There’s almost no way to buy a risk-free second-hand mattress. If you plan to do so anyway,  inspect your mattress for bed bugs. Look under buttons, between creases and folds, and beneath the cover if it’s removable. Also, check for other signs besides live bugs. These include:

  • Minor brown stains on the mattress
  • Shed exoskeletons
  • Droppings that look like tiny coffee grains
  • Eggs that look like little sesame seeds

You’ll also need to clean your used mattress thoroughly. Steam cleaning can help kill any pests that could be hiding in it. Baking soda can reduce odors and lift stains. And vacuuming can also remove mites and bed bugs.

What do I do if I get bed bugs from my used mattress?

Bed bugs are tricky pests to get rid of once you have them. However, you might be able to deal with small infestations yourself. Try steam cleaning and vacuuming your mattress to kill and suck up bugs. Insecticidal Diatomaceous Earth (DE) can kill bed bugs by ripping them to shreds when they crawl over it. You might also try certain plant oils to repel the bugs in your mattress. However, bed bug infestations don’t limit themselves to your mattress.

Bed bugs can be in your box springs, bed frame, sofa, and almost anywhere else. When that happens, it’s almost impossible to treat your whole house. Instead, you’ll have to call professional pest control companies that can charge you thousands of dollars. The best thing to do is to avoid getting bed bugs by purchasing a new mattress. There aren’t many mattresses on the market that cost more than bed bug treatments for your whole house.

What’s the difference between a used and refurbished mattress?

Most of the time, there is no significant difference. Sometimes, a refurbished mattress might have undergone cleaning or some repairs. However, most of the time, these terms are interchangeable, and mattress sellers just use the word “refurbished” because they think it sounds fancier.

Bottom Line

Buying used may seem like the smart choice, but mattresses are one of those things you should never purchase second-hand. It may seem counterintuitive to say that buying a used mattress can cost you more in the long run. Yet this can easily happen if you have to replace your mattress more often and pay to exterminate the infestations it brings into your home.

From bed bugs to dust mites to broken components and sagging, old mattresses can pose all kinds of costly problems for potential buyers. That’s why it’s a lot safer to spend a little more on a new mattress.

Harrison Wall is Sleep Junkie’s business strategist and sleep analyst. He also authors posts on bedding and mattress accessories. Harrison regularly coordinates with new mattress companies and tests their products to determine what really helps you get better rest and have brighter mornings.

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