Than Once Upon a Mattress: Used Bedding Labeling Rules
Buying a mattress? Factors to consider may
include soft or firm, innerspring or foam, new or used. Used? Yes, in most parts
of the country, used mattresses can be resold as long as they meet certain labeling and
Bedding can be expensive. It's important to know what you're buying. The easiest way to
tell if you're buying new or used is to look at the label attached to the mattress. In
most cases, new mattresses will include a white tag or label that indicates that
the mattress contains "all new materials, consisting of...." Depending on the
state, used mattresses may contain a tag, sometimes red or yellow in color, that
warns that the mattress contains used materials. Federal law requires that any mattress
that contains used stuffing bear a tag or label with that information. If you don't see any
tag, consider doing business with another retailer. Otherwise, you simply don't know what
Not all states have labeling requirements for the sale of used mattresses, and for
those that do, the requirements can vary. For example, in many places, old mattresses that
have been recovered with new ticking (strong, tightly woven cotton or linen fabric) can be
sold as long as they are sanitized or disinfected in some way before sale. In other
states, only certain parts of mattresses, such as the springs, can be reused. These rules
apply to traditional retailers as well as to thrift, secondhand and consignment shops.
Mattress Shopping Tips:
- Shop around. Mattress prices and quality vary greatly.
- Ask if the retailer sells used bedding. If so, and you want a new mattress,
make sure your mattress has a "new" mattress tag.
- Make sure you look at the tag on the actual mattress you're buying, either before
you leave the store or before the delivery person leaves your
house. Don't let the heavy plastic wrapping stop you from looking for - and at - the tag.
- Ask the retailer to write "new" on your sales receipt if you've been told
you're buying a new mattress. If it turns out that the mattress is used, you'll have
- Avoid retailers with mattresses that don't carry tags. You simply don't know what you're
getting, regardless of what the salesperson claims. It's what's in writing that counts.
- Ask about the retailer's return and refund policies, and get copies in writing.
For More Information
The agency that regulates mattress labeling varies by state. To find out what the
bedding laws are in your state, you may have to contact the State Departments of Health,
Consumer Affairs, Agriculture or Licensing.
The FTC works for the consumer to
prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the
marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and
avoid them. To file a
complaint or to get free information
on consumer issues, visit
call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The
FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft and other fraud-related
Consumer Sentinel, a
secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law
enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION
FOR THE CONSUMER