How to Dispose of Household Items That Are Difficult To Get Rid Of

If you're tidying up and organizing your home, you'll probably come across some items you need to get rid of. Here's a look at how to dispose of some of those hard-to-get-rid-of items.

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Mattress and Box Springs

If you have an old mattress and box spring in good condition, consider selling them or giving them away on a web site such as Freecycle Network, Nextdoor or craigslist. If you purchased a new mattress, see if the store will take your old mattress for recycling.

You can also check with your local recycling center or garbage disposal service to see what their rules are with old mattresses and box springs. Garbage haulers will often pick up a certain number of oversized items each year. Yet another option is a junk removal company, like 1-800-Got-Junk?

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Cleaning Products

When getting rid of household cleaners, follow label directions. If there are no directions, here’s a rule of thumb, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):

  1. If it’s a product you mix with water, dispose of it down the drain with the water running.
  2. Solid products, such as scouring pads, can be thrown in the trash.
  3. For products such as oven cleaners and furniture polish, never throw them down the drain. Call the toll-free number on the label and ask how to proceed.

If you’re unsure about a certain product, you can also check with your local waste disposal facility.

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Battery maker Duracell notes that if you live in an area with a recycling or collection program, contact them about their rules for battery disposal or recycling. Never dispose of large numbers of batteries at one time, and don’t mix batteries with other recyclable items.

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Medications are one thing you should never flush down the toilet. To get rid of unwanted or unused medications, the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends local disposal options.

Many communities periodically offer take-back events that let you drop off medications to be safely disposed of. Some cities and pharmacies also have fixed drop-box locations. To find an authorized collector in your community, visit

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Want to get rid rid of those old tires? You can’t just throw them away. Call your local auto shop first and see if they’re worth taking in to be retreaded or repaired.

If you’re buying new tires at a tire shop, see if they will recycle your old ones. Earth 911 says if you plan to recycle the tires yourself, remove the rim and wheel weights. Both are made of metals you can recycle as scrap. Don’t know how to recycle in the right manner? We’re here to help! Here’s our homeowner guide to teach you how to recycle.

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The World Health Organization says millions of people in low- and middle-income countries lack basic health services, including eye care. If you have old eyeglasses, contact your local Lions Club. They collect eyeglasses and get them to people around the world who need them. You’ll likely find a drop-off location not far from where you live.

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Old Appliances

If you’re buying new appliances, see if the retailer will take your old ones to be recycled. Getting rid of old appliances can sometimes be a challenge.

Many donation centers, such as Habitat for Humanity ReStores, will also take appliances that still work. If they don’t work, check with your waste hauler to see if they offer special pick-up services, or if the appliances can be recycled curbside.

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motor oil

Used Motor Oil

It’s illegal to throw used motor oil in the trash! But there are ways to dispose of it properly.

Take your used oil to an oil change facility that accepts it, or to a household waste recycling facility near you. Regardless of the option you choose, Mobil suggests calling ahead first to make sure the facility will accept used motor oil.

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Old Electronics

Call your local recycling center for the rules regarding old electronics. Call2Recycle is a helpful web site that allows you to find drop-off locations by entering your ZIP code.

Check with your local senior center or other donation centers to see if they are in need of older but still usable computers, televisions or DVD players. Here are a few interesting facts about recycling electronics.

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Building Supplies

If you’re doing a home improvement project and have leftover building supplies or materials in good condition, donate them to a Habitat for Humanity ReStore outlet. Proceeds from these items help fund Habitat for Humanity homes.

If there isn’t a ReStore location near you, there may be a local charity that could use the supplies. Or you could sell them or offer them for free on Freecycle Network, Nextdoor or craigslist.

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Old Linens

If your used linens are torn and tattered or you’re having trouble finding places to store them, donate them. Used linens like towels, blankets and sheets are often put to good use at animal shelters and Animal Humane Society locations. Check with your local animal shelter to see if your old linens can be donated.

Rachel Brougham
Rachel Brougham lived through a major home renovation in 2019, knows the ups and downs of home improvement, and loves sharing tips with readers. A veteran journalist of both print and television, she’s won several awards for her writing and has covered everything from the environment and education to health care, politics and food. She’s written for several publications beyond newspapers including Bob Vila, Taste of Home and Minnesota Parent, and she currently writes a weekly syndicated newspaper column. Her memoir, Widowland, about the sudden loss of her husband, was published in 2022. She specializes in everything from home decor and design to lawn and garden, product reviews and pet care. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her tending to her garden (both vegetables and native plants), playing with her dog, watching sports with her family or getting some exercise. A native of Michigan, she currently lives in Minneapolis. An avid user of Instagram, you can follow her @RachBrougham.