Certified master cleaner Jeremy Reets of Champion Cleaning Systems made some stomach-churning discoveries while examining mattresses sold as new by an Atlanta business.
The beds turned out to be used, and among the old materials used to fill those secondhand mattresses, Reets says he found perspiration, urine, feces, blood, dust mite and skin cells.
"There are potentially very unhealthy bacteria in these mattresses," Reets said.
The sale of used mattresses is quite common, but it happened unknowingly to Raytown resident Becky Echols.
"I don't know who was on this mattress before me," Echols said. "My husband and I refuse to sleep on it now."
Neither Echols nor her husband have been able to rest easy since discovering the truth about their locally purchased bed. The couple had no clue they were sleeping on a used mattress until a warranty man came to examine some sagging and pointed out a certain yellow tag.
"I called my husband. He was like, 'I don't know I don't have my glasses on.' I started to read it and it said right there it's used," Echols said. "I think it's disgusting."
The tag claims the Echols' second-hand mattress had been previously owned, then sanitized by the Texas Department of Health and resold. The unpleasant discoveries continued.
"Now I see stains," Echols said, "Some small stains that obviously we had a mattress cover on it since we bought it. We won't sleep in here."
It was back in April 2011 that the Echols bought a queen mattress from the Mattress Firm store on East 39th Street in Independence, MO, for $1,206. According to the receipt, the price included setup for "the new mattress." The bed's actual history wasn't revealed for more than a year.
"I couldn't believe it, because I knew this isn't supposed to be," Echols said.
KCTV5 sent an undercover producer into the Independence store where Becky bought her mattress to figure out how someone could pay for a new mattress but end up with a used one.
After chatting about the different kinds of available beds, the producer asked the salesman if his store sells used mattresses.
The employee said that his company does have a clearance center where secondhand beds are sold after they've been sanitized and repackaged. But he said those beds must be clearly marked as used; none were kept inside the store.
When that visit failed to explain Echols' situation, KCTV5 investigative reporter Eric Chaloux went to the store. The employee did not want to speak on camera, but gave Chaloux a phone number to contact the Mattress Firm corporate office.
Turns out, Echols should never have received the mattress where she and her husband had been sleeping. Mattress Firm said the mistake was caused by a delivery error that went undetected for more than a year.
Once KCTV5 got involved, Echols' not only received a refund, the company allowed her to pick out a brand-new replacement mattress.
For anyone in the market to buy a new bed, federal law requires that any mattress that contains all old stuffing must come with a "used" tag. All other second-hand bedding disclosure rules are left up to each state. And they can differ a lot.
Missouri's strict mattress-label law states that a bed can carry a white tag when it is only made of "all new material." A yellow tag is required when "any second-hand materials" are used.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment says there aren't any additional bed label laws beyond that federal law.
KCTV5 did attempt to track down the Echols' used mattress with that yellow tag that listed the Texas Department of Health. Officials there say they have no record of the bed or tag number. It's a mystery still haunting the Raytown couple.
"I don't know who slept in this bed," Echols said.
The Federal Trade Commission has come up with some mattress buying tips for consumers. You can read them by clicking here.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.