How to Safely Dispose of Items Before a Move

Start fresh in your new place by disposing of your old items in safe and environmentally-friendly ways.

New home, new you? Moving is a great opportunity to seriously KonMari everything that has been slowly accumulating since you first settled in. Maybe you even want to start fresh in your new place with updated appliances or new furniture. As good as it feels to get rid of things you don’t need, chances are that not everything you’re disposing of can just be tossed in the trash or the recycling bin. Maybe you’ve even tried selling your old wares on a community forum or giving them away to friends and family, but you still have a few remaining items that you just don’t know what to do with.

For items that are too large for the trash can, such as furniture and large appliances, or potentially hazardous waste items like batteries and propane canisters, there are procedures you should follow to dispose of them safely, sustainably and easily. Follow this guide for tips on how to safely dispose of your unwanted items before the big move.

Large Appliances

Whether they’re simply too large or move or you would rather just start over with a new appliance in your home, it can be tricky to figure out what exactly to do with your old appliances. If you’ve tried selling your appliances to no avail, explore community forums like Freecycle and Nextdoor, or haul it yourself to a local appliance donation center. Most sellers of your new appliance will even cart the old one away for a small fee.

If you’re hiring a mover, they may offer services that will dispose of your old appliances for you. A local waste management service can also accept your large appliance to dismantle and recycle it. When hiring a commercial waste disposal service, always check to see if they’re taking your old appliance to a recycling plant or a landfill. The environment will thank you!

Expired Medicine

It might be tempting to just toss expired prescriptions or over-the-counter medication when you’re prepping for a move. However, simply disposing of your expired prescription medication can leave it susceptible to getting in the wrong hands, being found by a child or used illegally. The FDA has even launched a large campaign warning against the irresponsible disposal of prescription drugs.

Look for disposal instructions on your medicine, as some can safely be flushed down the toilet or sink. You can also review the FDA guidelines for more information on the safe disposal of medicines.


You’ve tried selling your old furniture and you’ve tried giving it away on one of the aforementioned local networks. Now what? If your furniture is still in relatively good condition, consider contacting a local non-profit organization or charity. Many non-profit resale organizations offer pick-up services in exchange for valuable donations. Simply enter your zip code to see if you are eligible for The Salvation Army’s services. Many organizations will haul away furniture, household items and even your old clothing or books.

Much like with large appliances, your local waste management company might offer to haul your old furniture for a fee. You may even be eligible for curbside pickup, where your trash company will accept oversized items on a designated pickup day. If you’re willing to pay for furniture removal, there are private companies such as 1-800-GOT-JUNK that will collect it for you.

Depending on what moving company you are using, many also offer large item disposal and cleanup for free or a small fee.

Hazardous Materials & Electronics

Hazardous materials come in many forms, and you may not realize that everything you’re tossing in the trash could be potentially hazardous. There can be serious consequences when hazardous materials end up in recycling plants or landfills, so you’ll want to be very careful when sorting through these items. Hazardous materials include household items that are combustible, corrosive, reactive or toxic. Some examples of these are gasoline or propane tanks, drain cleaners, aerosol cans, antifreeze and most cleaning materials that contain either corrosive acids or bleach.

First and foremost, check the labels of any hazardous materials for disposal instructions. Even inside of empty containers, the chemical residue could make these items unsafe to simply toss or recycle. Check with your local waste management company for guidelines on disposal. If your company doesn’t offer home pickups, you may be able to drop the materials off at a designated site for a small fee.

When it comes to disposing of electronics, first check if there is a local curbside collection service available to you. If you would like to recycle your electronics, many manufacturers offer a trade-in or take-back program. Most electronics retailers offer a similar service. If you’re dealing with older electronics, it is even more important to be diligent about their safe disposal. Many old electronics contain lead or mercury, which is very environmentally toxic. Your local waste management company might do a home pickup for a small fee. Many waste companies also offer mail-in bulbs, batteries and electronics recycling kits like this one.