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November 23, 2017

Used Mattresses and Upholstered Furniture


Selling used mattresses and upholstered furniture comes with certain risks. The stuffings used in upholstered furniture can absorb bodily fluids, spilled beverages, and food debris. Stuffing can harbor mold, mites and diseases; spinal meningitis is commonly transferred through shared mattresses and bedding.

In my home state of Virginia, bedding is defined as:

“any mattress, mattress pad, box spring, upholstered bed, davenport, upholstered sofa bed, quilted pad, comforter, bolster, cushion, pillow, featherbed, sleeping bag, or any other bag, case or cover made of leather, textile, or other material which is stuffed or filled in whole or in part with concealed substance, which can be used by any human being for sleeping or reclining purposes”.

Laws about selling bedding and upholstered furniture vary from state to state, so check your state laws before doing so. Most states allow the resale of used mattresses and upholstered furniture, but sometimes require used mattresses to be disinfected and permanently marked or tagged with the declaration that the item is used and has been sterilized according to the state requirement.

In Virginia, it is LEGAL for executors to sell bedding at an estate sale. Virginia’s Bedding and Upholstered Furniture law states:

§32.1-225. Exemptions.
A. The provision of this article shall not apply to:
1. Any item of bedding or upholstered furniture sold under the order of any court, or
pursuant to §55-419, any sale of a decedent’s estate or any sale by any
individual of his household effects.

Disposal Options

Most charity organizations, including Goodwill, won’t accept used mattresses. Giving it away to a friend or relative is legal, but not always possible. As a result of the difficulty of getting rid of a used mattress, landfills are filled with them; about 40 million mattresses are thrown into landfills each year.

If the decedent was bedridden prior to death, throw the bedding – all of it – away. There’s no point in risking a lawsuit if someone gets sick from the bedding you sold them.

My recommendation is that you sell the bed and give away the mattress and box spring for free, but mark it clearly that it has not been disinfected and that it is up to the buyer to have it disinfected. Used mattresses seldom bring more than $25-50 (even high-end mattresses) and disinfecting and cleaning costs more than the mattress is worth. If there is a lot of high-end upholstered furniture in the estate, hire an upholstery cleaner to clean all the furniture and mattresses in one trip. Usually, cleaners will give you a nice discount if he’s cleaning everything. If you do this, have the cleaner tag each item that has been cleaned and mark clearly that it has been disinfected. Then, add $15-$20 to the price of each item.

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Originally posted 2013-03-01 17:25:00.

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About Wayne Jordan

Wayne Jordan is a Virginia-licensed Auctioneer (#3481), as well as an AIA and CAGA Certified Personal Property Appraiser. Learn more at http://www.resaleretailing.com/wayne-jordan-auctioneer-appraiser/

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