HomeWork: Donating items for reuse is ideal, but unfortunately not always possible. Here are a few other options.

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Q: Are there any tips you can share regarding how a homeowner can safely and lawfully get rid of large household items and appliances?

A: If you’re remodeling or moving to a new home, there may be large or bulky household items you’ll want to replace and recycle. A remodel may mean updating kitchen appliances. You may want to replace the carpet or get new mattresses and box springs. Or you might need to declutter and get rid of old electronics in your new home.

When clients come to me for tips as they look to clear out or update their home, I guide them to be environmental stewards, to utilize conservation resources and follow sustainable practices. Note that professionals in construction and remodeling have different rules and regulations to follow for the disposal of or when recycling large household materials and appliances.

Donating items for reuse is ideal, but unfortunately not always possible. Can the materials be sold at a garage sale, gifted to another or donated to a charity or service organization? The first two are easy enough to try, but the third — donating to an organization — may present a challenge. Each organization will have different acceptance policies with explicit directions online. Because you are giving away larger items, ask if the organization will pick up from your location.

Depending on where you live, you may be near a transfer station with recycling and disposal options or recycler. Your city may also offer disposal or recycling through a special “bulky item collection.” The King County Solid Waste Division website provides info on recycling, reuse and disposal options, green home remodeling, and more.

Electronic products

Take it Back Network locations will accept electronic products such as computers, televisions, cell phones and certain household electronics. The network is a partnership among government agencies (King County Solid Waste Division, Snohomish County and Seattle Public Utilities) and retailers, repair shops, charitable organizations and recyclers that provides consumers with options for recycling certain wastes — and their hazardous components — in a safe and cost-effective manner. Search for a Take it Back Network location here.


Many secondhand stores or nonprofit organizations will accept your appliances. Most have online guidelines as to the kind and quality of appliances they accept. As refrigerators, freezers and air conditioners contain chlorofluorocarbons, which are regulated under the federal Clean Air Act, they cannot be disposed and must be recycled. Check your local transfer station for restrictions and fees that may apply for recycling specific appliances.

Your local utility company may offer to recycle your old appliance for no cost, and in some cases, you may get a rebate check. Ask if the utility will haul away your unwanted fridge or freezer. Look online for easy-to-follow guidelines or options for recycling from your utility company.


Mattress recycling is becoming more common. When you buy a new mattress, ask the company you purchased it from if they will haul away and recycle old mattresses and box spring. Few secondhand stores will accept used mattresses.

Another option is to search King County’s What Do I Do With…? Page to find a hauler who will recycle mattresses. Most transfer stations will accept mattresses and box springs for disposal; be sure to check fees and restrictions before you go.


Because of health concerns, used carpet and padding is not typically accepted for donation. Some organizations may accept new or unused carpet, depending on their guidelines. If you are replacing carpet, ask your retailer or installer if they offer removal options.

Carpet recycling options are currently very limited in Washington state. Most transfer stations accept carpet for disposal, with restrictions, depending on whether the homeowner or installation company is disposing. Always make sure to check online before you take your materials to a transfer station, as different locations may have varying rules on what they will accept.

Happy purging!


Brenda Nunes of Keller Williams Eastside is a member of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties, and HomeWork is the group’s weekly column. If you have a home improvement, remodeling or residential homebuilding question you’d like answered by one of the MBA’s more than 2,800 members, write to homework@mbaks.com.