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Why is it Illegal to Remove a Mattress Tag? (Penalty)

Is it illegal to cut off a mattress tag

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Is it illegal to remove a mattress tag? I’m sure you’ve heard the urban legend about people getting sent to jail for taking the tag off their own mattress. If you just cut your tag off and you’re worried about getting sent to the slammer, read on. Our team of writers spent countless hours researching mattress tag laws and how they’re enforced. This guide teaches you everything you need to know about them.


Why Is It Illegal to Remove a Mattress Tag?

As the end-user, you are free to remove any tags once you buy a mattress. It is illegal for mattress manufacturers or retailers to remove it.

"Under penalty of law" mattress tag close-up

In the past, manufacturers and mattress sellers used to risk consumers’ health by stuffing their mattresses with unsanitary materials. This stuffing often contained bacteria, pathogens, and bed bugs.

As a consumer, you would never know what kinds of surprises were lurking in your mattress because it was all sewn in and covered up.

As far as we know, the law label was introduced in the early 1900s to prevent some manufacturers from stuffing mattresses with used bedding materials or horse hair, food waste, corn husks, and whatever else they could come up with.

Since this type of unscrupulous behavior is still observed today (though not exactly the same) particularly by sellers of used mattresses, this law still serves its purpose.


Laws on Mattress Tags

Law labels are legally required on mattresses, upholstery, and stuffed items (pillows, plush toys, comforters, and bedding) in 31 states and Canada.

The US code on Textile Fiber Products Identification makes it illegal to rip off mattress tags before delivery to the final consumer. A legislator explained this as follows:

“After shipment of a textile fiber product in commerce, it shall be unlawful, except as provided in this subchapter, to remove or mutilate, or cause or participate in the removal or mutilation of, before the time any textile fiber product is sold and delivered to the ultimate consumer, any stamp tag label or other identification required by this subchapter to be affixed to such textile fiber product, any person violating this section shall be guilty of an unfair method of competition, and an unfair or deceptive act or practice under the Federal Trade Commission Act.

As you can see, the prohibition of ripping the law tag applies exclusively to manufacturers and sellers of mattresses. A law label aims to inform consumers about the contents they can’t see, or “filling materials” inside bedding and furniture products.

You, as a final consumer, are free to remove a label, but if you plan to sell your used mattress in the future, a law tag is required.

We recommend you keep your mattress tags in mint condition in case you want to resell it. Also, removing the tags voids the mattress warranty, whether it is brand new or used.

Gavel in a court case

Penalty for Removing Tags

You’re probably wondering about the penalties for ignoring the “Do Not Remove Under Penalty of Law” mattress tags. The punishment for disregarding this rule varies by state, ranging from monetary fines to cease and desist orders.

First-time offenders are more likely to receive lenient sentences than repeat offenders. Also, consumers can sue mattress manufacturers and retailers who remove or destroy tags to conceal the contents. Damages can reach several hundred or even thousands of dollars.

What information is on a mattress law tag?

The law tag is a white label typically placed on the underside of the head or foot of the mattress. This tag can contain details such as the serial number, product name, and warranty information. The law tag tells consumers what’s inside and assures them the product is new and has never been used before. This information could also be useful for registering a product, obtaining a warranty, or finding a similar item.  

In most US states, law labels are mandatory. However, there are some differences when it comes to:

  • Product labeling information
  • Registration information

Depending on state to state, the mattress law tag contains:

  1. Warning (Do Not Remove by Penalty of Law Except by The Consumer)
  2. Information about hidden materials
  3. Serial number
  4. Company name
Detailed information about the different parts of a mattress law tag

Red and Yellow Tags (Labeling Used Mattresses)

Labeling used mattresses is made mandatory by federal and state regulations. Used mattresses are labeled with yellow or red tags. Sometimes both. If you are selling used mattresses as a retailer, you could be obliged to tag them with proper labels. If you are a potential buyer, you should pay attention to the meaning of color-coded tags.

  • Yellow tag – A yellow tag informs you that a used mattress has been cleaned, washed, and sanitized.
  • Red tag – A red tag informs that a used mattress is rebuilt or made from used or recycled materials.
  • Both tags – A mattress that has attached both tags (yellow and red) meets sanitation requirements and informs the customer about the materials used in its production.

Under the threat of legal sanction, only buyers should remove these tags after purchasing. The labeling purpose is to assure consumers that they are buying a second-hand mattress without visible stains, dust mites, and other allergens and to inform them if they are about to buy a mattress made of used materials.

FAQs

Can I return a mattress without tags?

No, you can’t. A mattress is eligible for a return only if the law tags are attached. Also, it should be free of dirt, burns, and tears. You may find a mattress with a different length of time and quality warranties (or even a lifetime warranty) and long trial periods, but if you remove the tag, you’ve voided your guarantee.

Why do pillows have Do Not Remove tags?

Pillow tags identify the product. You can find information such as the warranty or guarantee, stuffing material, and how to wash it. This information is crucial for consumers, as it can help them determine whether a pillow is the right fit for them and whether it is safe for them.


Conclusion

Removing tags from mattresses is illegal for business owners. End-buyers can take off tags without any legal consequences. Nevertheless, our suggestion is to keep tags attached to your mattress. This can be helpful if you want to resell it or claim a warranty if needed. Also, you will have valuable information about mattress stuffing and maintenance. 


Next step: Now that you’ve got the 411 on mattress tag laws, it’s time to take a look at your options. If you’re looking to stretch out your payments, we created a guide to the best mattresses with Klarna financing. Brands on this list are offering split payments on their mattresses so that they’re more affordable. If you’re looking to upgrade your sleep, you can’t go wrong with anything on this list.


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