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How to Get Rid of Anything

Learn how to get rid of household junk, unneeded building materials and other unwanted stuff with these tips and strategies from TFH staff and Field Editors.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

"Free" makes junk vanish

Break up a cast iron tub

How to get rid of stuff online

Even if you think no one would want the item, list it in the “free” category on a Web site. You’d be amazed at what people will take. Our Field Editors have gotten rid of all kinds of junk this way: half-rotten fence planks and worn-out appliances. Here’s a list of Web sites where you can place listings to sell, give away or trade your stuff, plus find information about recycling and safe disposal.


Cut a water heater in half

Cut it up fast with a ferrous-metal blade

Turn waste wood into mulch

Field Editor Tom Berg

Field Editor Tom Berg

He Saved $400

For most of us, trash disposal is an unavoidable cost of remodeling. But Tom Berg managed to complete an entire home addition without spending a penny on junk removal. He listed lumber, siding, windows and doors on freecycle.org and was surprised when people hauled them away for free. Even the scrap lumber got used as a bonfire for a church outing. He turned the cedar siding into mulch (see above) and threw the small amount of remaining stuff in the regular trash.

Buy a Bagster bag

Dumpster Rental Tips

Trash bins, aka “Dumpsters,” aren’t cheap. And there are plenty of ways to make mistakes with their rental and use. We pooled our experiences to bring you these six money-saving tips:

  • Search for a local hauler either on the Internet or in the Yellow Pages. Most of the top Dumpster listings on Internet searches are actually just brokers who may charge about $200 more. So scroll down until you find an actual local trash bin supplier.
  • Telling the hauler what you’ll be putting in the bin may help you get the size you need. For example, the staff will know that you’ll need a 15-yard bin to dispose of 20 squares of shingles.
  • Negotiate a longer rental period up front if you know you’ll need extra time. It’s cheaper to extend the rental time than to rent a new bin to finish the job.
  • Get the bin properly placed. Figure out where you want the bin, allowing enough room for the swing door to open fully. Then mark your driveway so the driver knows exactly where to place it (if you won’t be there when it arrives). Provide wood blocks to protect your driveway if they’re not included with the rental.
  • Don’t let it become the neighborhood trash bin. You’ll be amazed at how many “good” neighbors will dump trash in it without your permission. So tell them you’re renting a bin and ask if they want to share the cost. That way, they’ll be on the lookout for nonpaying “dumpers” too.
  • Cover it with a tarp if you won’t be using it for a few days. That’ll keep snow and rogue “dumpers” out.

Disassemble your old box spring

Faced with the problem of how to get rid of his old bed, Field Editor Andrew Pitonyak stripped the fabric and padding from his box spring and left the metal springs on the curb for the local scrap collector to pick up. He saved the $20 cost of getting rid of the box spring and helped the environment by recycling the metal.

Recycle a sidewalk

Excess dirt is an opportunity

Heavy-duty contractor bags

Heavy-duty contractor bags

Disposal Tip

Buy 3-mil heavy-duty contractor bags. They'll stand up to most tear-out debris without ripping.

Dry out your old paint

Get money for metal

Wondering how to get rid of metal junk? You can get money for almost any kind of scrap metal. You won’t get much for steel (about 10¢ per pound as of July 2012), but that’s better than paying to get rid of it. And other metals are worth a lot more: about $3 per lb. for copper and 80¢ per lb. for aluminum. You can even pull circuit boards out of electronic equipment and turn them in for bucks.

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Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

    • Ferrous-metal saw blade
    • Circular saw
    • Leather gloves
    • Dust mask
    • Hearing protection
    • Drop cloth
    • Reciprocating saw
    • Safety glasses
    • Sledgehammer
    • Wrecking bar
    • Wood chipper

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.

    • Trash bags
    • Bagster bag
    • Painter's plastic

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