The Best Places to Find Free Pallets Near You

Tips for Finding, Inspecting, and Collecting Used Pallets

free palettes

The Spruce / Christopher Lee Foto 

Wood pallets are used in many DIY woodworking projects like potting benchespatio furnitureporch swings, beds, and compost bins. They're usually free to obtain, and there are numerous possibilities and free pallet plans for creating something unique.

While these projects may excite you, you might wonder: "Where do I find free pallets near me?" Sourcing can be the toughest part, but plenty of businesses and some individuals dispose of them because they have no use for them. You can likely find a local store to visit that will hand them over.

Here are some tips and things to remember when looking for free wooden pallets. Many of these same tips can be used when looking for free lumber.

What Do Companies Do With Used Pallets?

Large businesses order many supplies; most big shipments come on wooden pallets. While this sounds like an excellent opportunity to jump in and snag a few dozen or more for your woodworking projects, it probably won't work.

Bigger companies like Home Depot, Lowe's, and Walmart likely return, recycle, and reuse the pallets either through internal logistics teams or with the aid of third-party companies. It certainly won't hurt to ask to store manager, but don't get your hopes up about the big businesses.


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The alternative is to seek out small businesses. Many smaller businesses toss their pallets into the dumpster due to a lack of budget for a hauling company or because they don't have the time or other resources to do it. They may even lay them out next to the dumpsters so that trash services can pick them up.

Striking a deal with the workers or managers of a construction site may be another ideal place to look for free pallets. It's as easy as picking up the phone and asking.


Remember that pallets leaned against a wall or even sitting next to trash receptacles may not be free for the taking. They probably are, but it’s essential to ask to be on the safe side.

How to Find Free Pallets Near You

Best Locations for Free Pallets

Any business that has inventory will most likely use pallets. When you ask yourself (or the internet) where to find pallets, look first to some local businesses like these:

  • Hardware stores
  • Construction sites and builders
  • Small garden shops
  • Furniture stores
  • Equipment stores
  • Newspaper companies
  • Pet stores
  • Grocery stores

However, if you turn to grocery stores as your source, inspect the pallets closely for spills or stains. Some stains can turn to mold in due time.

Also of note, an old study from 2010 by the National Consumers League found that 10 percent of pallets carrying food produce harbored E. coli bacteria. Although an update to that study hasn't been published, use your discretion if choosing supermarket pallets.

Become Your Own Pickup Service

If a small company needs to dispose of its pallets, and you need pallets, the math should be easy: Get free pallets while helping a small business clean up their waste; be the "trash pickup service" they need.

If you know of some local places constantly getting rid of them, ask if you can take the load. If they're already paying someone to do it, you could always offer your services at no cost because you're interested in using them for DIY projects. You could then give any excess you don't use to someone else who needs them or take them to a dump.

This type of relationship may transform into something even more significant. The business may eventually contact you if they have other kinds of waste that you could use for your at-home projects.

Seek Out the Distribution Center

If the company receiving the pallets won't hand them over, you can try working directly with the distribution center shipping them out.

They may have tons that don't work with their machinery, are slightly broken, or don't conform to their standards. Ask if they can set them aside for you to pick up.

Also, look out for pallet recycling companies. They might be able to give away some pallets to you for free, if not for a small fee.

Use the Internet

An excellent way to find free wood pallets is to form a relationship with individuals looking for them (and you can work together) or those with excess that you could take.

Simply searching online for "free pallets near me" or "free wood pallets in my area" may yield helpful results. You can also advertise by making an "ISO" post (in search of), asking for free or cheap pallets. Facebook, other social media sites, and the freebie-finding website Freecycle can also be helpful.

Consider making a clean trade, too. If you have excess stone, unused lumber, garden seeds, or anything else someone may want, you can make a trade.

Otherwise, someone may want their pallets picked up and removed, so you can take them and use them yourself.

Using Pallets Safely at Home

Inspect the Wood

The best pallets seem to come from dry goods industries. Many of these products carried lighter-weight goods keeping the wood integrity intact. Also, since you want to avoid using pallets with spillage or food stains, dry goods usually do not have those issues.


Whenever picking up or working with pallets, always use heavy-duty gloves. If you plan to cut or sand a pallet, use a mask and eye protection.

Keep an eye out for nails sticking out and splinters. Check the front and back of the pallet for massive fissures or splits in the wood that might make that pallet a poor choice for use.

Also, avoid using pallets that have grease or oil stains. Petroleum stains are hard to remove or cover up with paint.

Review Markings and Stamps

Look for the stamps or markings that many pallets have. If you see no markings, it came from a domestic product. Any wood or plant products from outside the country require an International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) stamp on the pallets.

Approved markings, as noted by the IPPC, include the following:

  • HT (Heat Treated): Heat treatment using conventional steam or dry kiln heat chamber 
  • DH (Dielectric Heated): Heat treatment using dielectric heating (microwaves or radio frequencies)
  • MB (Methyl Bromide): Methyl bromide treatment (fumigation chemical treatment that leaves behind chemicals)
  • SF (Sulphuryl Fluoride): Sulphuryl fluoride treatment (fumigation chemical treatment that leaves behind chemicals)


It is best not to work with or use chemically treated pallets. Most significantly, never use them inside the house or with edible plants. Cutting, sanding, or burning these wood products can release toxic pesticides and rodenticides into the air.

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Identifying and Mitigating Mold on Wood Pallets. National Wooden Pallet & Container Association.

  2. NCL calls on FDA to regulate industry after tests reveal hidden pathogens on pallets used to transport food. National Consumers League.

  3. Adopted standards (ISPMs). Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

  4. Be safe around wooden pallets. Pennsylvania State University Extension.