How to properly dispose of household items and chemicals when moving

When you are relocating from one place to another, chances are that you are not going to take everything with you. Most of the time, you will decide to leave certain household items and chemicals behind. However, if you don’t know how to dispose of household items and chemicals, you may end up being on the wrong side of the law. You can’t delegate this task to one of the best moving companies, either; it is something that you need to do on your own. That is why this article will cover all the available waste disposal options and provide you with tips on how to dispose of each specific group of household items and chemicals.

How to dispose of household items and chemicals – Available options

To start things off, you have the following four options when it comes to waste disposal:

  1. Hire junk removal services
  2. Rent a Dumpster
  3. Recycle
  4. Donate
two movers standing next to a couch
Your movers can also help you dispose of household items and chemicals.

Before you start looking into these options, you may want to research your county’s waste management laws first. Each county has its own set of rules when it comes to waste disposal, and you need to know them before you start disposing of your household items and chemicals. The best way to find out about these laws is to contact your closest hazardous waste collection facility. Alternatively, you can do a simple online search and find the information that way. By making sure that you fully understand the laws, you will be able to minimize anxiety during a move and ensure that you do not get saddled with unnecessary penalties and fees. With that in mind, let’s take a look at all the waste disposal options you may have available to you.

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Junk removal services

The easiest way to manage your waste disposal is to simply let the professionals handle it. If you hire junk removal services, you will not need to worry about anything else. That being said, there are a few things to think about even when hiring junk removal services. If you only need to dispose of common household items, you might be able to hire these services from your moving company. However, if you need to dispose of hazardous materials such as asbestos, you will need to contact specialist junk removal services. This is especially important when planning your long distance moving process, as additional disposal costs might influence your overall budget. Even so, hiring junk removal services will allow you to save a lot of time. This is the simplest option available to you, but it is also the costliest one.

Renting a dumpster

The second option you have is to simply rent a dumpster (or two). You will need to fill the dumpster on your own, and you may need to deliver the dumpster to your local waste management facility. This option is best used when you don’t have any hazardous waste but simply want to get rid of miscellaneous household items. A dumpster can also be quite useful when packing your home for relocation, as you will have extra “storage” for packing materials. Renting a small residential dumpster will cost you between $100 and $300 per week, so you might want to get the most use from it.


Recycling is one of the best ways to dispose of household items and chemicals. Of course, you can’t recycle everything you have; the items need to be recyclable to begin with. Some of the most common recyclable items include batteries, used car oil, electronic waste, and items that contain mercury.

a recycling bag, symbolizing the best way to dispose of household items and chemicals
You can recycle most household items and chemicals.

Depending on where you live, you may be able to benefit from free recycling options. Otherwise, you will need to pay a small recycling fee, as well as pay for the delivery of your items to the recycling facility. If you want to minimize the costs, you can deliver the items yourself. You may even be able to strike a deal with your moving company to have your items delivered to the facility at a reduced price. In fact, this is usually one of the reasons to hire professional movers in the first place. The reason why recycling is usually the best option for disposing of household items and chemicals is the fact that this process allows their reuse. By recycling, you are effectively doing your part to help the planet!

Donating your items

If your household items and chemicals are in good condition, you can always donate them to someone that can use them. Donating is the absolute best way to dispose of household items and chemicals, as it all but guarantees that they will actually get used. However, donating your items can be a time-intensive process, as not every charity or organization is going to take all of your items. In fact, you may need to contact a dozen different charities/organizations before you can dispose of all your unwanted belongings. If you have a lot of items to dispose of, you may also want to consider one of the different types of storage solutions for the time being. To make donating a bit easier, here’s a small list of who you may want to contact:

  • Community centers
  • Homeless shelters
  • Charities
  • Churches
  • Schools
  • Local businesses

If your donation is substantial, you will usually be able to schedule a pickup. For example, if you are donating your items to a local business, you can expect them to come and pick up the items from your doorstep. If you are donating to a school, however, chances are that you will need to deliver the items on your own.

How to dispose of household items and chemicals according to their type

When disposing of household items and chemicals, the first thing you will want to do is check the labels and packaging of each item type. Most of the time, this will provide you with enough clues as to how to safely dispose of your items. However, it may so happen that you don’t have the labels/packaging on hand and that you need to “improvise”. Or you may be in the middle of planning a nationwide family relocation, and you don’t have the time to read the labels and packaging. If that happens to be the case, here are a few suggestions on how to dispose of common household items and chemicals according to their type.

stacked tires in a dumpster
Each item type needs to be disposed of in a certain way.

Bulky items

The best way to dispose of bulky items is to disassemble them first. Of course, this usually applies to large furniture items. For bulky appliances, you may want to enlist additional help from your movers. Not only will your movers be able to safely handle any such appliances, but they can also deliver them to your local waste disposal center for you.

If you are conducting a DIY move, however, you may want to procure certain equipment for handling bulky items. This will minimize the risks of moving by yourself and allow you to safely handle any such items. The equipment you will need will depend on which items you need to dispose of, but you are going to need a dolly and moving straps at the very least. Even if you are planning on a DIY move, you may want to contact a local moving company and see if you can rent or purchase the equipment you might need.

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Small appliances

Most of the time, you can put all small appliances in the trash. However, some appliances may contain hazardous waste and require specialized means of disposal. String lights, for example, may contain dangerous chemicals, requiring them to be brought to a waste disposal facility. Other appliances that you may not freely dumpster away include thermostats, microwaves, TVs, etc. Appliances that are generally safe to throw away include light fixtures (excluding lightbulbs), toasters, vacuum cleaners, and the like. Furthermore, if an appliance has any rechargeable batteries, those will need to be disposed of separately.

Cleaning supplies

When disposing of cleaning supplies, you will always want to refer to their packaging instructions. Mild chemicals can usually be poured down the drain, but some may require a trip to a waste disposal facility. If there are no instructions on the packaging itself, you may want to run a quick online search and see whether the chemical can be safely disposed of. Some of the cleaning supplies that usually require disposal at a specialized facility include metal polishes, tile cleaners, drain and oven cleaners, and similar. The “stronger” the chemical is, the more likely it is to need specialized disposal.

unlabeled cleaning supplies
If your cleaning supplies come without a label, you might want to be careful when disposing of them.


Checking your medicine cabinet for expired medications is one of the essential tasks when moving to a new home. By doing so, chances are that you are going to discover that some of your medications are well beyond their expiry date. While you can simply throw your expired medications into the trash, there are good reasons why you may not want to do so. First, there is always a chance that drug addicts will rifle through your trash and steal the drugs that they can use to fuel their addiction. Second, some medications have specific disposal instructions. Third, your community may have a drug take-back program you might be able to take advantage of.

Sharp items

Depending on where you live, simply throwing away sharp items may be illegal. To be on the safe side, you will want to tuck away your unwanted knives, needles, syringes, etc., into a safe container before taking them to the nearest waste disposal facility. Even if your state does not make it illegal to simply throw away any such items, taking them to a specialized disposal center is always the best thing to do.


There are several ways to dispose of batteries. The one that you can use will depend on the metals that the batteries contain. For example, you will need to dispose of lithium batteries and most rechargeable batteries via a recycling center. Some battery types you can simply throw away, while others may require specialized handling. It all gets rather complicated, to be honest. The best thing to do is consult the EPA battery chart when you want to dispose of any batteries. If you have an overwhelming number of batteries in your household that you need to dispose of, it may be worthwhile to hire professionals and let them sort it all out.

Light bulbs

You can safely throw away most light bulbs. However, if you want to dispose of CFL or fluorescent light bulbs, you will need to take them to a local collection center for proper recycling. The reason why these two battery types need to be recycled is that they contain mercury, which can contaminate water and soil.

a light bulb
Most of the time, you can simply throw away your light bulbs.


The best way to dispose of your mattresses is to recycle them. You will want to find a specialized mattress recycling center and bring your mattress there. If you don’t have easy access to a recycling center, however, you may want to break down the mattress into individual parts and recycle them instead. Of course, you can simply dump them at a landfill, but that has a major environmental impact.

Personal electronics

Any personal electronics can usually be given to a retailer via a take-back program. This is the best way to dispose of them, as that ensures that they will be properly recycled. If there is no such program available, you can always take add them to the landfill.

Aerosol cans

When it comes to aerosol cans, there is one simple rule: Do not throw away any cans that are not completely empty. Aerosol cans that still have pressure in them can potentially explode. To ensure that your can is empty, try to spray on a piece of cardboard until nothing comes out for several seconds. If you have to dispose of non-empty aerosol cans, taking them to a hazardous waste disposal facility is your only option.

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Aside from needing to dispose of household items and chemicals, there are many other issues you may discover during the relocation process. If you need any additional help, you can count on Consumer Opinion Guide to provide a helping hand! Our expert articles will provide you with all the tips and tricks you might need for a successful and easy relocation!

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