How to Dispose of Everything, Including Old Cell Phones, Mattresses, and Batteries

If you've got Marie Kondo fever, we've got you covered.

how to dispose of everything
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The average American produces 4.48 pounds of trash per day, according to the (EPA), and only 34% of that waste gets recycled. While most of us know to put our cans and bottles in the blue bins, when it comes to appliances, electronics, old medications, and other unused items, disposal can get a little tricker.

A solid first step: Try donating items in good, working condition to nonprofits like , , the , or local charities; or list them on , , or even . But if it's time your items really hit the curb, here's what to do:

Cleaning Products

Close-Up Of Spray Bottles In Kitchen
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The best way to dispose of cleaning products is to use them! If that's out of the question, it's important to read the labels to figure out the right way to toss them. Hint: In most cases, water-soluble products (like ) can be flushed down the drain or toilet with running water, and solid cleaning products like bar soaps and scouring pads can go in the trash.


  • Washers and Dryers: If they're still in good working order, donate them to a shelter or home that would likely benefit. If you're buying new laundry appliances, ask the manufacturer whether they're certified to recycle your old ones. If all else fails, call your local waste management office to see whether you can leave them on the curb, or check out for more options.
  • Refrigerators and Freezers: Leave the disposal of these hefty appliances to the professionals. Contact your local department of public works to schedule the removal, or use this to find a partner program near you. The costs for this service will vary. According to the , removal can cost anywhere from $10 to $50, but you may receive a rebate for disposing your appliance responsibly. Score!
  • Microwaves: Some municipalities let you recycle broken microwaves as scrap metal. (Electronics recyclers will do the same for a small fee.) You could also bring it to a bulk items or appliance recycling day hosted by local authorities.


    Some cities will collect your mattress if you put it out (sealed in a plastic bag to prevent bedbugs) with your regular garbage for bulk collection. If you're planning on buying a new mattress, many retailers will also haul the old one away for you.

    If it's gently used and in good condition, you could try donating it to a nonprofit (like Habitat for Humanity, the Salvation Army, or a local homeless shelter). Just double-check that health department regulations in your area allow it. If not, try the site to find a recycling center near you or hire a removal service like to do the dirty work for you.


    Colorful pills and capsules, studio shot
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    It's important to dispose of expired or unused medication as soon as possible to prevent others from accidentally taking or intentional misusing them. To dispose of them safely, use this to find a certified disposal site near you (including some pharmacies). Your local law enforcement agency may also host periodic collection days.

    If you can't find one, you can also dispose of some medications in the trash following this FDA-suggested method:

    1. Mix the medicines (do not crush) with an unpalatable substance like dirt, cat litter, or old coffee grounds.
    2. Place the mixture in a sealed plastic bag.
    3. Throw the bag in the trash.
    4. Scratch or black out all personal information on empty pill bottles or packaging before throwing them away.

      Note: The FDA recommends flushing a few specific medicines down the toilet when a take-back option is not available due to the potentially fatal risk of someone taking them accidentally. These include hydrocodone (e.g., Vicodin) and Oxycodone, and a few others. You can see here or check the label for specific disposal instructions.


      Pile of mobile phones
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      • Cell Phones: Before getting rid of your old cell phone, first delete all of your personal information using a factory or hard reset option. (Check the manufacturer's website for info on how). You'll also want to remove or erase the SIM or SD card. Then you can trade in, donate, or recycle your device — usually right at the store. For example, AT&T runs the charity that donates devices to troops overseas. You can also look for e-cycling locations in your area , including private recyclers, nonprofits, and other programs.
      • TVs: Don't toss your old TV or monitor in the trash! Some old sets contain toxic materials like lead and count as . , , , , and all offer (either in-store, event, drop-off site, and haul away options). You can also try ing your local sanitation department for guidance.
      • Laptops and Computers: Check out , , and if you're interested in donating your device. Similar to TVs, you'll want to recycle these responsibly, so get in touch with the manufacturer or retailer to see if they'll help out.

        Light Bulbs

        Some states and jurisdictions may actually require recycling light bulbs, so check your local laws before tossing these in the trash. As bulbs often break when they're thrown away, they can release mercury into the environment. Try for info on how to safely get rid of these (plus other hazards, like paint and pesticides) near you.

        Coffee Pods

        Close-Up Of Coffee Capsules On Table Against Black Background
        Michael Gabriele / EyeEmGetty Images

        If you love using your single-serve machine, you can take steps to eliminate the environmental impact. offers capsule recycling at more than 122,000 places around the world. Visit any Nespresso boutique or partner store (including and ) or pick up a online that comes with a prepaid UPS shipping label.

        For , only a few varieties right now (including the Green Mountain kind) can get recycled. Check for a #5 recycling sign on the bottom first. Then remove the foil lid and throw that out along with the grounds. Then recycle the empty cup.


        Alkaline batteries can safely go in the trash everywhere except California, according to . For other kinds of batteries (or more eco-friendly disposal), you can also look up nearby recycling sites on and .

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