How to Recycle Duvets, Mattresses and Bedding
Treating yourself to new bedding is a delight, but what should you do with your old duvet, pillow or bed sheets? As we’ve become more aware of the damage that binning things does to the environment, many of us are increasingly interested in learning how to dispose of our bedding responsibly.
Read on to find out how you can reduce your impact on the environment by knowing when’s the right time to replace your bedding, how to repurpose or recycle your bedding and how to choose more eco-friendly products that will last longer.
How often should you change your bedding?
Replacing your bedding is an important way of staying in good health and keeping your home clean. But how often should you replace your bedding? Waiting until the day things start falling apart is too long, but it’s not good for the environment or your bank account to replace too frequently. Here’s the lowdown on when it’s time to replace key pieces of bedding.
How often should you replace your mattress?
Official guidance is that you should be replacing your mattress after about 8 years. But because not all mattresses are created or treated equal, it really depends on the individual condition of your mattress. Your mattress’s age is less important than how it feels, looks and (sorry!) smells. Some of the signs that it’s time to replace your mattress include:
- Springs digging into your body when you lie on the bed.
- A dip in the centre of the mattress which means you can’t help but roll down into it when you go to bed.
- Ripped, threadbare or discoloured fabric.
- Mildew or other signs of damp and mould on your mattress.
- An unpleasant smell that airing for a few hours doesn’t solve.
- An increase in allergies or aches and pains.
- Noticing how much better you slept at a friend’s house or in a hotel.
Although a new mattress is an investment, replacing an exhausted mattress can transform the way you feel. With better sleep each night, you’ll feel brighter, have more energy and suffer fewer aches and pains.
How often should you replace your duvet?
Cared for well, a duvet will last for anywhere upwards of two to five years. How long your duvet lasts depends on what it’s made with, how it’s been made and how you care for it. Just as with your mattress, it’s more important to examine your duvet’s condition instead of focusing on how old it is. If you notice the following signs, it’s time to treat yourself to a new duvet.
- The fill is stiff, lumpy or uneven.
- The casing is ripped, stained or damaged in some other way.
- It has a smell that washing doesn’t fix.
- You slept at a friend’s house or in a hotel and noticed how much more comfortable the duvet was.
Replacing your duvet will not only make you feel more comfortable as you nod off to sleep, but it may also help reduce allergic symptoms. That’s because an older duvet may well have a build-up of bacteria and other allergens that can leave us feeling less than perky in the mornings.
How often should you replace your pillows?
Pillows go through a lot. Not only do they have the weight of our heads on them all night, but they also take the brunt of the moisture that we breathe out as we sleep, as well as a build-up of oils from our heads, skin and products we use. For this reason, experts recommend that we replace our pillows every 1 to 2 years. This not only means a more comfortable night’s sleep with better neck and shoulder support but is important for your health too. The build-up of moisture and oils in a pillow creates the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and allergens – and who wants to share a bed with those?
How often should you replace your bed sheets?
Because bed sheets should be regularly laundered (at least fortnightly), there’s less urgency to replace them with the same frequency as other pieces of bedding. Although some people may claim you need to replace them every 1-2 years, there’s no need to do this unless you want to.
Keep your bed sheets clean, store them well and you can use them for far longer than just two years. This does of course depend on whether you rotate your bed sheets. If you use the same bed sheet week in, week out, then it will need to be replaced sooner than if it’s one of two or three that you rotate each laundry day. Of course, if you notice your bed sheets are thinning or have stains that won’t shift, then it’s probably time to invest in some new bed sheets.
Where to donate old bedding?
Many organisations are extremely grateful to receive donations. They do request that all textiles have been washed and are in good condition.
- Salvation Army Trading - Bed-linen
- Reuse Network - Cushions, pillows
- Homeless.org - Tool to find local housing shelters for donations
Just like us, animals feel the cold in the winter. Many local animal shelters heavily rely on donations of bedding, duvets, blankets, pillows, cushions and towels to keep their furry friends warm.
Feather-filled duvets and pillows can be used as bedding for cats and dogs, and blankets and bedspreads are best for animals like rabbits (who like to nibble!).
- RSPCA - bedding, towels, blankets
- National Animal Welfare Trust - Blankets, towels, bedsheets
If your bedding isn’t in great condition, it may be possible to give it a new life. Used bedding can be recycled at many recycling points across the country. Here are some organisations to help you find one in your local area:
- Drop Point - Blankets, towels
- Recycle Now - Tool to find local linen recycling points
- London Recycles - Tool to find local linen recycling points
Alternative uses for old bedding
If you’d prefer to get creative with your old bedding, there are plenty of ways you can give them a second lease of life. Here are a few of our favourites:
- Repurpose the fabric from old bed sheets and duvet covers. From cleaning cloths to a child’s garden teepee, the only limit is your imagination.
- Treat your pets to a snuggly new bed. Whether it’s an old pillow or duvet, your pets will love having a soft new bed that reminds them of you – you find a home for your old bedding and save on the money for a new pet bed – win-win!
- Use duvet or pillow fill for craft projects. Just because the fill isn’t worth sleeping under, doesn’t mean you can’t use it. Synthetic and feather & down fills are ideal for using in cushions, draft excluders and toys. Just make sure you’ve thoroughly cleaned the fill before using it.
- Give back to nature. Place small amounts of feather and down around your garden in the early spring so that birds can use it to build their nests
- Compost. Yes, you did hear right! Natural fibres – cotton, linen, hemp, silk, wool and feathers - can all be composted, some of which will biodegrade in a matter of months. So, if your bedding is too old or damaged to use, you could compost it instead. We’d recommend you cut your bedding up into smaller pieces before adding it to your compost heap as this will speed up the decomposition process.
Choosing the best eco-friendly bedding
Because sustainability isn’t just about what we do with products at the end of their life, it’s also important to think about what you choose to buy initially. Choosing durable, responsibly made bedding is just as important.
Best eco-friendly mattress
All Soak&Sleep mattresses are made in the UK which means fewer emissions in the supply chain. Our Wool 2000 pocket spring mattress contains natural fibres such as wool and viscose (a manmade fibre that’s derived from natural sources) which biodegrade at the end of their useful life.
Best eco-friendly duvet
You might be surprised to hear that you can buy duvets made with recycled fill. Our 80% recycled down duvet is made entirely from 80% recycled down and 80% recycled feather for a lofty, warm treat of a duvet that’s kinder to the planet. Not only does pre-loved feather and down mean less landfill, but it also uses a fraction of the resources needed to rear birds for virgin feather and down.
Best eco-friendly pillows
Our 80% recycled down pillows use the same high-quality down and feather as our 80% recycled down duvet. So that’s even less waste to landfill and fewer resources needed to raise birds for virgin down.
Best eco-friendly bed sheets
One of the most eco-friendly fabrics to hit the UK market is hemp. It’s an incredibly relaxed crop which needs far less water than cotton and is less affected by diseases. And because it’s such a vigorous crop it crowds out competing weeds. This means it needs fewer pesticides, herbicides, water and fertilizer than other fabrics. And if you’re worried that hemp bed sheets might feel a little too ‘worthy’ (read scratchy), don’t! With customer feedback such as ‘beautifully soft’ and ‘soft, cocooning and looks fabulous’ you can be confident of getting a blissful night’s sleep.
How to make your bedding last longer
One of the easiest things we can all do to be more environmentally friendly is to make the products we already have last longer. Care for your bedding well and it will last you for many years – something that benefits both you and the environment. Here are a few ways to make your bedding last longer:
- Protect your bedding. Using duvet, pillow and mattress protectors will keep your bedding fresher and cleaner for longer so that it lasts longer.
- Air your bed. Pulling back the covers when you first get out of bed is an easy way to make your bedding last longer. Doing so helps the moisture that’s built-up in your bed overnight to evaporate. This in turn helps keep your bed clean, fresh and allergen-free. Give your mattress, pillows and duvet another airing when you change the sheets – strip your bed completely and leave it without any bedding for a while to freshen it up some more. Airing your mattress and pillows outside when it’s sunny is another great way to freshen things up.
- Turn your mattress regularly. This helps ensure the fillings are distributed regularly and that you use each side of the mattress regularly. By doing this, you’ll help your mattress last for longer.
- Launder your bedding when necessary. Keeping things clean will help your bedding last for longer. We’d recommend you use professional capacity washers and dryers for your duvets, toppers and pillows to keep them at their best. And always make sure the fillings are bone dry before using your duvet and pillow. If not, the fillings will clump and your duvet or pillow will be unusable.
- Use the right detergents. Washing your bedding with the wrong products can damage them in the long term. Check the labels and follow the wash-care advice. It’s especially important to avoid using fabric bleach as this can damage the fibres in your bedding, especially with bedding that includes hemp, linen, wool or silk.