By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Why does the tag on the mattress say “do not remove under penalty of law”.

The answer to the bad comedian’s line “Why is there a tag on the mattress and who’s going to arrest me if it’s removed” is more icky than funny, actually. Because while individuals cannot strip off the sheets of the beds they just slept on and resell the mattress, in most states there is no law requiring that mattresses be made of all new materials.

And, in fact, California just became the third state to fund a program for mattress recycling.

So, long as the mattress materials are properly sterilized and approved by the Health and Safety Department of your state, you could actually be sleeping on the former bedding of another.

The good news is that – under penalty of law – the mattress seller must have a tag on all mattresses advising you if the material is all new or secondhand, or it faces a penalty for every single mattress without such a tag.

Before buying a mattress, don’t assume it’s all new just because it’s wrapped in plastic. Read the tag. Once you buy the mattress, you are free to remove that tag without fear of the mattress police.

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