How To Dispose Of A Refrigerator

When your old refrigerator finally kicks the bucket — or you decide it’s time to upgrade to a bigger, better model — you’re left with the task of disposing of a rather large and unwieldy appliance. Most of the time, this isn’t as simple as we’d like it to be, so the fridge either winds up in the garage or basement and sits there for years. So, how can you dispose of a refrigerator the right way?

If your refrigerator is in working condition, you can sell it or donate it to charity. Otherwise, you can take the fridge to an appliance recycling center, schedule a bulk pickup with your waste management company, or hire a junk removal service for hassle-free fridge disposal.

The biggest problem with getting rid of a fridge is that they’re bulky and heavy. Plus, older models contain refrigerant chemicals that can harm the environment if they aren’t disposed of properly. So, refrigerator disposal has to be done with extra care. Let’s look at some of the options you have for refrigerator disposal.

How Do You Get Rid of a Refrigerator?

Big refrigerator isolated on white

Your refrigerator’s condition and local regulations will largely dictate your options for getting rid of your fridge. Plus, your budget may limit how much you’re willing to spend on the fridge disposal process. We have a few options to help you make the best decision for your family, wallet, and the environment.

So when you’re ready to say goodbye to your old fridge, choose the disposal method best for you.

1. Sell It or Donate It to a Local Charity

If your fridge is still in working condition, you may be able to sell it. Take a few good pictures of it and post them on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace with all the specifications — or advertise for a garage sale if you’ve got a lot to get rid of. These are great ways to keep the fridge out of a landfill and make a little money.

Another good option is donating to a local charity. Charities are always looking for useful appliances for underprivileged families. So, do a quick Google search to see if charities in your area accept fridges. Such organizations usually come and pick it up from your house, so it’ll be less hassle for you, and you’ll be able to help a family in need.

2. Trade-In With the Retailer

Some stores give a trade-in offer when you buy a new fridge. That means when their truck delivers your new fridge, they’ll take away the old one for free. They either recycle it or dispose of it through some other means. Most retailers offer free local delivery but are sure to ask before you seal the deal.

Some refrigerator manufacturers even offer rebates when you take advantage of this trade-in offer on their fridges. You might get around $100-$200 off your new model. Of course, such policies vary from company to company, so make sure you read the fine print and ask your retailer about this option when buying a new refrigerator.

3. Take It to a Recycling Center

All the scrap metal, foam, glass, and plastic from the refrigerator can be recycled. But if your fridge is from the 1990s or older, it most likely contains Freon, a highly polluting greenhouse gas that a professional must remove before recycling.

So if your fridge has Freon, you’ll have to pay to get it removed first and then take it to the recycling center.

An alternative is finding a special facility that deals with such appliances. RAD (Responsible Appliance Disposal) programs partners with appliance retailers and others to offer free or low-cost fridge recycling. Check whether there’s a RAD program near you, and then drop your fridge there for recycling.

4. Request a Bulky Pickup From Your Waste Management Company

Some cities have special pickup days for bulky items like fridges, or you could schedule a pickup for a fee. But because these companies don’t usually deal with hazardous material, you’ll have to make sure the fridge is emptied of all its Freon first. This will cost you around a hundred bucks in addition to special pickup charges in some cases.

You may also have to disassemble refrigerator doors since most companies don’t take them due to safety concerns. After completing all of that, call your city’s waste management to schedule a collection. Then leave your refrigerator on the curb on the day of pickup, and they’ll haul it away for you.

If you go this route, ask your waste management company about their policies and procedures for fridge disposal. Most likely, they’ll toss it in a landfill, so the method might not be the most environmentally responsible.

5. Sell It to Scrap Dealers

You can always find scrap dealers who are willing to buy your old fridge for its metal value. But again, if it has Freon, you’ll have to get that removed before selling it. And that’ll cost you more than what the scrap value of your fridge is worth. That’s why it’s usually not the best option.

6. Hire an Appliance Removal Service

If you don’t have the time or the means to get rid of the fridge yourself, you could always hire a junk removal service. They provide the necessary equipment and manpower to safely and quickly remove the refrigerator from your home. 

This is probably the most convenient option but also the most expensive. The price will depend on the company, the type and size of your fridge, and your location. So it’s best to get quotes from a few companies before making a decision.

Remember to ask the company what their disposal process is. And, since you’re paying for it, make sure they dispose of it in an eco-friendly manner instead of just dumping it in the landfill.

Many state and local governments have strict rules and regulations about disposing of major appliances like fridges. So it’s best to check with your city hall or county office beforehand. They might have a list of registered appliance removal companies or recycling centers that you can use.

How Much Does It Cost to Get Rid of a Fridge?

The cost of getting rid of a fridge will depend on the method you choose and the whether or not you have to pay for Freon removal. 

The most expensive option is hiring a junk removal company, which can cost anywhere from $75 to $200, but they’ll take care of everything from pickup to Freon removal.

If you want to take it to a recycling center yourself and you have to rent a truck, it could cost you around $30 to $60, depending on the location. But you’ll also have to pay for Freon removal, which can be another $100. Even RAD-associated facilities charge a small fee for refrigerator recycling.

The same goes for requesting a bulk pickup from your waste management company; you’re still responsible for Freon removal and might have to pay a small fee for disposal.

So the cheapest option is probably finding someone willing to take it off your hands. But that means the refrigerator should be in decent shape, and you’ll have to put in some effort to find someone to buy it or find a charity willing to come and pick it up from your home.

How Should You Get Your Fridge Ready for Disposal?

Whether you’re giving your fridge away, trading it in, or recycling it, you’ll need to do prep work first. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Unplug the fridge at least 24 hours before disposal. This will give it time to defrost and prevent any water damage when moving it.
  2. Detach the water line from the fridge.
  3. Remove all food and debris, and consider doing a full clean-up if you’re passing it on to someone else.
  4. Take out any removable shelves, drawers, and other parts. Or tape them in place if you can’t remove them.
  5. Hire a certified HVAC technician to remove the Freon from the fridge. They can do it right on-site and provide you with a certificate of removal.
  6. If you’re disposing of the fridge through a curbside pickup, remove the doors.
  7. Finally, get help from a friend and carefully move the fridge to wherever the pickup will happen.

Do Scrap Yards Take Refrigerators?

Old fridges freezers wash machines

Scrap yards only accept refrigerators that are already treated for Freon removal. So if you unplug your fridge and want to get rid of it, a scrap yard might not be your best option.

And since Freon has to be removed by a certified professional, it could cost you more to have it removed than the refrigerator is actually worth for scraps. However, if the Freon is taken care of, most scrap yards will happily accept refrigerators.

You can even dismantle it yourself with the proper equipment and sell the materials for scrap.

So now you know how to dispose of a refrigerator. Just make sure you do your research and follow the proper steps to get rid of your fridge in a responsible, eco-friendly manner.