What to Do With Old Appliances—Donation and Disposal Options

Stack of disposed fridges
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Old appliances aren't just clutter; they can take up half of a car space in your garage or, worse, half of your patio space. So you usually can't stash them to deal with "later," even if that's your inclination. You also can't toss them in the trash or even disassemble them for the recycling bin. Why not? Because they're made with heavy metals and contain motors, toxic refrigerants, and other parts that aren't suitable for wholesale disposal.

You'd think you could just donate that old refrigerator, but often it's more complicated than that. Fortunately, there are several options.

Trade It In

If you're upgrading to a new appliance, it's quite common for the dealer to agree to remove the old one when delivering the new unit. Sometimes they charge a nominal fee, especially when it comes to refrigerators, which must be serviced and prepared properly for disposal. This type of removal is the best strategy when upgrading any large appliance. Let them deal with removal and disposal of the old one.

You can also check with your local utility to see if they have a removal service for older energy-guzzling appliances. Many utilities offer a rebate for your trade-in, and you might be surprised to learn how recent the old refrigerator model can be and still qualify for this promotion.

Sell It

Maybe you've received duplicates as gifts and these have never been used and are still in new condition.

Having the original packaging and product manuals is even better. You may have some appliances that have been gently used but their novelty has long since worn off. Or maybe you are moving or downsizing and cutting your overall clutter and storage area. These appliances can be sold and are very much in demand.

You can try to sell them at a garage or yard sale or sell them to a local appliance reseller. In either case, clean them up and make sure they have all their parts. Appliances with missing parts have much less value than complete units.

As for price, consider what you would pay for the item if you were doing the shopping. Don't expect to get near the full value or even close to half price for an appliance, even if it has never been used. We're talking yard sale pricing here. Have an electrical outlet handy, so purchasers can try them out before buying.

Donate It

If having a yard or garage sale is not your cup of tea, many non-profit groups, churches, community thrift stores, and trash-to-treasure startups will be happy to take working appliances for free. Many companies will pick them up, saving you that hassle. Check your community for local outlets. Some centers operate with proceeds going to cancer research or another worthwhile cause, so donating unwanted appliances to these centers is important. There are also centers that accept appliances to recycle them for use by needy families.

Scrap It

Scrap-metal dealers accept some appliances for drop-off or will pick up appliances at your home, often for a small fee.

There are also companies that accept working and non-working appliances for repair and resale. They may pay a small amount for working units that are relatively new. Search online or in the phone book under "metal scrap," "metal recycling," or "appliance recycling."

Wait for a Dump Day

Cities of all sizes commonly host "dump days" in which residents can donate or dispose of a variety of household goods, including working and non-working appliances. This may be free for residents, or you may pay a nominal fee upon entering the dump site or pay individually for specific appliances and equipment. In any case, the fees tend to be low. If you can hold on to your unwanted appliance until the next dump day, this can be an inexpensive and efficient option. Check with your city office for information on the next dump day or seasonal recycling event.