How to Dispose of Large Items the Right Way

TV on the side of the road

How to Dispose of Large Items the Right Way

If you’re spring cleaning, redecorating, or clearing away the clutter after a move, you may find yourself wondering how to dispose of large items like appliances, furniture, or mattresses. One thing’s for sure: you certainly shouldn’t just dump bulky items on the curb and hope for the best. 

With this guide, Texas Disposal Systems teaches you how to dispose of large items conveniently and responsibly. For quick references to specific items, our Waste Wizard can guide you with identifying instantly which stream to use to dispose of items the right way.

This article focuses on residential bulky item disposal. Check out our site services for more information on construction site waste removal, including concrete recycling.

1. Schedule a bulky item pick-up

Bulky item pick-up is the most popular option for residential customers seeking to dispose of large items. It’s convenient and requires less physical effort on your part than hauling items to the dump yourself. Importantly, you can also schedule a bulky pick-up at a time that works for your household, giving you more control over how long bulky items are taking up space in your home or on your lawn. 

We answer some of the top questions about how TDS handles bulky trash pick up below. For a full run-down of bulky item FAQs, check out our bulky item collection services page. 

Many local waste disposal services (typically those run by the city) even offer free bulky trash pick-up a few days each year. If you have a bulky item to dispense of around those dates, you may be in luck! Just make sure to research your local waste hauler’s bulky trash collection program before you haul your items to the curb. 

How do I schedule a bulky item pick-up?

If you’re in Central Texas, simply call the Texas Disposal Systems Customer Care team at 800-375-8375 to get started.

Have a list of the items you plan to dispose of on hand when you call so you can confirm that those items are eligible for pick up. An inventory of your items will also help the representative provide you with an accurate quote.

What can and can’t be picked up for bulky item collection?

Different waste disposal companies accept different items for bulky collection. At TDS, we accept a wide variety of bulky waste items including:

  • Furniture
  • Appliances (drained of freon and water if applicable)
  • Wood (without nails)
  • Carpet
  • Doors
  • Fiberglass bathtubs
  • Toilets
  • Soft metal
  • Mattresses and box springs (for an additional fee)

TDS does not accept the following bulky items:

  • Hazardous materials, such as paint, household cleaners or other chemicals
  • Vehicles and vehicle parts (including tires)
  • Construction materials (soil, concrete, bricks, fiberglass insulation, glass)
  • Dead animals

While materials from a construction site residential demo project may not be eligible for bulky item pick-up, TDS can often collect and process these materials through other means. Please see our Builder’s Solutions page or skip to our section on renting a dumpster for more info.  

How much can I put out for bulky item pick-up?

In most cases, TDS will pick up three cubic yards per bulky item pick up. To visualize three cubic yards, imagine three washing machines sitting side-by-side. For reference, see the TDS bulky items assistance flier. More bulky trash can be picked up for an additional fee.

How should I prepare for bulky item pick up?

  • Ensure that there are no hazardous items like batteries or fluorescent light bulbs mixed in with your bulky trash. These items should be disposed of separately from bulky items. Check your state environmental agency website for more details. 
  • Drain water from appliances like hot water heaters. You can do this on your own or call a plumber: whichever is most comfortable and convenient for you. 
  • Call a professional to drain refrigerant from refrigerators or freezers. Because freon is a powerful greenhouse gas that also depletes the ozone layer, it was banned in the United States in 1995 and replaced with more ozone-friendly hydrofluorocarbon refrigerants. However, even refrigerators and freezers manufactured after 1995 must be drained by a certified refrigerant reclaimer before disposal. 
  • Cut especially large or long items down into smaller pieces for easier pick up. Very large items like sectional couches or long pieces of wood are easier to pick up if they are broken down into manageable pieces. 
  • Place items at least five feet from any obstacles like mailboxes, cars, or private property. Items should be on your curb by 6am on the date of your scheduled pick-up. 

What if I want to drop off my bulky items?

If you have access to a truck or trailer, you might be wondering where to dump large items. One thing you should certainly never do is drop off your large items in a location that is not a landfill or recycling center. Illegal dumping can be dangerous for the environment and disastrous for your pocketbook: fines can extend into the thousands of dollars!

If you’re trying to decide where to throw away large items responsibly, consider dropping your large items off at a landfill or transfer station

Central Texas residents can dispose of large items at one of our local transfer stations. You can check out the TDS gate rates for various items here.

If you’re near Southeast Travis County, you also have the option to bring your bulky items to our Citizens Convenience Center, a state-of-the-art public disposal center. Professionals will help you unload your items upon arrival and they will sort those items to our landfill, recycling center, and Resale Center.

No matter where you drop off your bulky items, make sure to do your research before you arrive. Some facilities have strict rules about what types of items they will accept and many charge a gate fee for drop-off. It’s especially important to research how your landfill handles the disposal of refrigerators and freezers. You’ll likely need to call a professional to drain their refrigerant before drop-off.

2. For medium and large projects, rent a dumpster or mini roll-off dumpster

If you’re in the midst of a long-term undertaking like a renovation or landscaping project that creates a lot of bulky waste, renting a residential roll-off dumpster might be your best bet. 

Renting a dumpster allows you to dispose of large items on your schedule. Additionally, you will receive an up-front quote on your dumpster over the phone, so budgeting for the expense is easy. 

You’ll want to be careful to select the right dumpster for your project, particularly in terms of size. You’ll also want to check with the company about what can and cannot go in your dumpster (at TDS, for example, items including hazardous waste, liquid waste and soil are prohibited). 

To help make dumpster selection easier, Texas Disposal Systems created a comprehensive dumpster rental guide. If you still have questions, you can always speak with a TDS representative, who will make sure that the dumpster you rent meets your needs. 

Last but not least, be sure you have somewhere to place your dumpster where it will not impede traffic or break community regulations. If you plan to place it on a public sidewalk or street, you may need to obtain a permit first.

When you have a project that’s too large for your regular trash can but too small for your typical roll-off dumpster, consider one of TDS’s mini roll-off dumpsters, available in 14 cubic yard and 10 cubic yard options!

Buyer beware: Some companies will try to upsell you on a bigger dumpster than you need. Always make sure that you rent a dumpster from a trusted waste disposal company like TDS. 

3. Investigate take-back, trade-in, and recycling programs

Whenever you purchase a new appliance, mattress, or piece of furniture, ask the retailer if they haul old appliances or furniture away upon delivery. Many companies charge a small fee—typically around $30—but that could be well worth it for the program’s convenience. 

Similarly, some manufacturers and retailers have trade-in programs for old appliances and electronics that can make the replacement process easy. You may even be able to exchange old items for store credit or discounts on your next purchase. Determine the brand of your appliance or furniture and check their website for more details.

Finally, check with your utility provider if you have an old refrigerator or freezer on your hands. Some companies will pick up old appliances for little or no charge in conjunction with the EPA’s Responsible Appliance Disposal program.

4. Donate your items

If you’d like to dispose of large items while helping someone in need, consider donating them to a local charity. Some charities will even pick up your bulky items for free. However, be sure to call ahead! Some organizations only take certain types of items and most have specific guidelines for donation. 

Schools, libraries, community theaters, and shelters may also welcome gently-used furniture or bulky electronic items: drop by or call to enquire!

If you live in Travis County, you can drop off your unwanted large items to TDS’s Resale Center, dubbed “Austin’s best unadvertised garage sale” by The Austin Chronicle. When you bring your bulky items to our Citizens Convenience Center, our professionals will set aside any items that are eligible for donation to the Resale Center. Gate rate fees will apply.

Some items should not be donated. Avoid donating items that require repairs, no longer work well, or are unsafe or dirty. This should go without saying, but you should also refrain from donating furniture or mattresses that are infested with bedbugs or other pests.

5. Hold a garage sale or sell your items online

You’ve heard it before: one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. If your furniture or appliances are presentable and in good working order, why not hold a garage sale to dispose of large items? Garage sales are a fun way to get to know your neighbors and to involve the whole family in a decluttering project. 

Keep in mind that you will need to advertise to attract buyers. You should start with colorful posters on major street corners in your neighborhood, but you might also consider posting on Nextdoor, Facebook or other social media sites to get the word out in advance. 

7. Sell your items online

If you think your large items could be worth something to the right buyer, try listing them on a site like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace or on an app like Offerup. It may take a while for the right buyer to find you, but you may make a bit of money in the end. 

If you’re crafty, you might even try refurbishing your old furniture and flipping it for a profit!

Just make sure that you follow the safety guidelines outlined by whichever online marketplace platform you choose.  

Make Bulky Item Pick Up Easy with Texas Disposal Systems

When you need to dispose of large items, you can rely on Texas Disposal Systems, Central Texas’s top choice for recycling, solid waste, and compost services. Whether you need to schedule large item pick up, rent a roll-off dumpster, or learn more about the services available at our Citizens Convenience Center, we are here to help.

Simply fill out a contact form at any of the service pages linked above or, if you have questions, call our Customer Care team at 800-375-8375.  Didn’t find what you were looking for? If your bulky waste is made up of more than just furniture, check out our tips on how to dispose of electronics safely and responsibly.