How To Dispose of a Refrigerator (in 5 Steps)

Authorized Service
May 6, 2024
Refrigerator Repair

Disposing your refrigerator isn’t as simple as throwing out the trash. There are dangerous chemicals inside a refrigerator, such as refrigerants and foam insulation, which if not handled correctly, could cause harm to people or the environment.

Plus, the size and weight of refrigerators make them quite cumbersome to carry and move—another factor that you need to consider. Therefore, it’s essential to learn how to dispose of your refrigerator in a sensible, safe, and legal manner.

This article will guide you through a five-step process for disposing of a refrigerator properly.

How to dispose of your refrigerator properly

Follow these five steps to get rid of your refrigerator the right way.

Step 1: Unplug and clean your refrigerator

When disposing of a refrigerator, you’ll want to unplug the appliance at least a few days in advance, so there’s plenty of time for it to defrost and for the fan motor to cool down.

It’s also essential to clean the interior of the refrigerator and remove any food items still inside. Nobody wants to have to deal with foul odors, mold, or rotten food left inside an old refrigerator, so cleaning it out now is a gesture of courtesy for whoever uses the appliance next.

Step 2: Tie the doors shut or remove them

This safety step ensures small children or animals can’t play or crawl inside the refrigerator and get trapped. It also prevents any doors from accidentally flinging open and hurting someone while the appliance is being moved or transported.

You can usually remove the doors, hinges, and locks by unscrewing any screws holding them in place and then lifting them off. To tie the doors shut, you can use ropes, bungee cords, or strong duct tape.

Step 3: Consider your options for disposal

You have a few options to consider when it comes to the method of disposal you use. Here’s a brief overview of some of the most common methods:

  1. RAD partner program: The Responsible Appliance Disposal (RAD) program works with its partners to ensure appliances are recycled using best practices for handling harmful substances safely and following all environmental regulations. You can use the RAD website to find partners in your local area (zip code) who can help you dispose of your refrigerator responsibly. 
  2. Your electric company: Many electric companies offer an appliance buy-back program. In exchange for your old refrigerator, you may get credit on your electricity bill or a rebate. These programs are designed as incentives for you to upgrade to more energy-efficient models. It’s worth contacting your electric company to see if they participate in any such programs.
  3. Appliance retailers: Many appliance stores will offer to pick up and dispose of your old refrigerator for you if you buy a new one through them. So if you’re looking to buy a new refrigerator, ask the retailer if they can collect the old one when they drop off and install the new one.
  4. Local waste management: Your local waste management service that deals with your regular trash collection may also offer to pick up bulky items on select dates throughout the year—it may be once monthly or quarterly. Call your local waste management company or visit their website to see if they offer this service, and when the next heavy item collection day is.
  5. Scrapyards: Selling your refrigerator to a scrapyard might earn you a few dollars. Or if they’re not willing to pay, they may at least offer to recycle any reusable materials like metals inside the appliance, rather than send them to a landfill. Many scrapyards are also RAD program partners.

Step 4: Contact the services you’re interested in

It’s worth reaching out to a few services you’re interested in, or at least looking at their websites to see what they offer exactly. You will likely find that each disposal service varies slightly.

Some services may offer to collect your appliance from your home for free, while others may require you to drop it off; some may pay or reward you for your old refrigerator, while others may charge a fee; and some may recycle your refrigerator, while others may send it to a landfill.

Think about what’s most important to you, and opt for the service that most closely meets your preferences. Then, contact them to arrange a date for disposal.

Step 5: Move the appliance ready for pickup or delivery

Depending on the disposal service you choose, you may need to deliver the refrigerator yourself to a scrapyard, waste facility, or recycling center; or you may just need to move it to the end of your driveway ready for collection the day before disposal.

Whichever is the case for you, you must be careful when moving the heavy appliance to prevent injuries such as a strained back. The combination of using a dolly to help distribute the weight and having at least one other person around to help you is the best way to move the appliance as safely as possible.

Other options to consider

If your refrigerator is working, in relatively good condition, and less than 12 years old, there are a few other options to consider:

Sell it online

Just because you feel your refrigerator is no longer right for you, it doesn’t mean it won’t be valuable to someone else. To sell it online, just take a few pics and list it on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or a similar site. Not only will you earn some cash, but interested buyers may also be willing to pick it up.

Donate it

Many charities or nonprofit organizations would be happy to receive a well-functioning refrigerator as a donation, as this would save them the expense of purchasing one. However, to avoid burdening them with something they don’t need, be sure to send them some photos beforehand, or allow them to visit, so you can be sure they definitely want it.


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