7 Ways to Upcycle the Memory Foam From an Old Mattress

7 Ways to Upcycle the Memory Foam From an Old Mattress

Every mattress has a useful lifespan, and if you’ve ever kept an old mattress around for too long, you know the consequences: an aching back, sleepless nights, and an overall grungy feeling. A fresh memory foam mattress is a life-changing experience, but it leaves you with a fresh problem, too: What to do with your old mattress?

Just throwing away memory foam so it can sit in a landfill forever is a terrible idea—especially because that old foam still has a lot of use left in it even if it’s no longer up to the task of being a mattress. You can donate or recycle your old mattresses, of course—but if you’ve got an old mattress or topper that you’re replacing, there are a lot of ways to upcycle it, even if you’re not particularly crafty and have zero sewing skills. All you really need is a serrated knife of some sort (a bread knife will do the trick, or you can pick up an insulation knife). If you’re feeling fancy, an electric knife or a hot knife will make the work very easy.

Once you’ve got your tool, it’s time to get creative. Here are some easy ways to upcycle your memory foam mattress.

Pet bed

One of the easiest ways to upcycle old memory foam is to turn that old mattress into pet beds. This doesn’t have to involve major sewing skills—just cut your foam into an appropriate size for your pet and cover with a small fitted sheet, large pillow case, old sofa cushion cover, or any other material you have on hand. You can also shred your foam into small pieces by hand to stuff inside your covering material if you’d rather not take the time to measure and cut.

Freshen cushions

If you have old throw pillows, couch cushions, outdoor pillows, or other cushion-y things that have seen better days, your old memory foam mattress will make them feel like new. The old mattress might not have the support you need for a good night’s sleep, but it almost certainly has enough support left in it to make your old cushions feel like plump, brand-new replacements. All you need to do is cut the old foam to size, yank out the old stuffing, and push it into place. As with the pet bed, shredding your memory foam might make it easier to stuff inside.

Headboard

If you have some plywood, spray adhesive, extra fabric, and a staple gun, you can create a cool custom headboard for your bed. Just cut the foam and plywood to your desired shape and size, glue the foam to the plywood, cover with your fabric, pull tight, and staple in place. Then just mount your new headboard to the wall behind your bed and enjoy a slightly fancier bedtime.

Camping pad

If you like to head out to the wilderness and camp out, sleeping in a tent with a sleeping bag (or drive out in your camper), you know that one of the biggest drawbacks of the outdoor lifestyle is the ground: It’s just not meant to be slept on comfortably. Cutting your old foam mattress into camping pads that slide under your sleeping bag will make an enormous difference in your comfort when you’re out enjoying nature. Your new camping pad can be rolled up inside your sleeping bags, too, making them super easy to transport and deploy.

Garden kneelers

If you love to garden, your knees are probably suffering. You can buy garden kneelers, sure, but why spend the money when your old memory foam mattress can be fashioned into garden kneelers with just a few minutes work? The old foam might not be up to the task of keeping you comfortable all night, but it can definitely give your knees some respite and make your gardening—or any chore or DIY project) that requires a lot of kneeling a little more pleasant.

Packing materials

If you need to ship or store some delicate stuff—holiday ornaments, unused glassware, or your grandmother’s china, for example—you can cut your old memory foam mattress into strips to protect it all. Cut a section to go in the bottom of a box, place your delicates on it, then layer another section of foam over them. Repeat until the box is full—and now your fragile treasures will survive just about anything short of a tornado or earthquake—even the United States Postal Service.

Travel seat cushion

Travel is educational, healing, and a lot of fun—but sitting in cars, buses, vans, planes, and trains for hours on end isn’t. Sitting for long periods can cause back pain, neck pain, and circulation problems, You can turn your old memory foam into a neck pillow, and some memory foam inside a pillow case makes an excellent low-effort seat cushion for long flights or car trips. After thirteen hours in basic economy right next to the bathroom, you’ll be glad you didn’t throw your old mattress away.

Memory foam is some amazing stuff, and has a plethora of uses. If your old mattress is done for, a little time and creativity can give it a useful second life.


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