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How to Dispose of Old Kitchen Appliances (Properly)

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In 2020, Americans bought over 560 million household appliances, including large and small kitchen appliances.

While these appliances may be sparkly and new now, they will eventually come to the end of their use and become e-waste.

But how do we get rid of e-waste?

You’re probably here because you have old kitchen equipment to get rid of… Whether a toaster or a blender, you probably know that you should recycle your electrical appliances, but aren’t sure where to start.

This guide will show you how to get rid of old appliances for free, in a safe and environmentally-friendly way.

Let’s dive in!

Why is Recycling Old Kitchen Appliances Important?

There are two main reasons why you should recycle your old appliances.

First, electrical appliances are made using valuable materials like gold and copper that can be reused:

Recycling these items conserves resources, allowing us to reach a circular economy in which new products are made from recycled materials.

Second, electrical appliances may contain toxic materials in their inner components:

When you chuck electronics in a landfill (rather than recycling them), toxic substances like lead and mercury can leach into the environment over time… This can lead to dangerous chemicals in our food or drinking water.

While many electrical appliances are tested to make sure they don’t contain high levels of dangerous substances, it is still a best practice to recycle, as toxic materials may remain.

Steps to Dispose of Your Old Kitchen Appliances

Steps on how to dispose of old appliances

1. Find it a new home

thrift store to drop of old electronics graphic

The best way to dispose of old appliances is to find someone who will still use it.

Donations or garage sales are a fun and eco-friendly way to get rid of them.

But first, check that the item is still working. No one wants to buy a broken toaster! Then, find a place to donate or sell it.

Don’t want to bother with garage sales? Many thrift stores will accept working appliances, or you can sell the item through online marketplaces.

Many big-name stores will even allow you to trade in working appliances for a new one or a gift card.

2. Leave your appliance intact

Man working on electrical appliance

So, your appliance is no longer functioning, and you need to recycle it… No need to take it apart.

While you can remove parts that are not made of metal, such as the plastic part of a food processor, don’t go further than that.

Breaking down electronics can expose you to toxic substances inside.

3. Unplug the appliance

Unplug the appliance

Unplug the appliance for a few days to let it cool down. 

It may also be worth coiling up the cord neatly to make transporting the item easier.

4. Check for recycling symbols on the product

recycling symbol

The general rule of thumb is that if the appliance is electronic, it should be recycled… If it has a plug or requires charging or batteries, it’s fair game.

Some electronics might also have a wheelie bin symbol that is crossed out:


This means it complies with e-waste regulations, is considered an electronic product, and should be recycled.

(Note that not all electrical appliances will have this symbol).

5. Bring it to a recycling center

recycling center

Don’t put the appliance in the trash or curbside recycling bin.

Curbside recycling programs aren’t designed to handle electronics, and mixing your kitchen appliances with other recycling can make the other items unrecyclable.

However, some towns have specific days when you can put other appliances out.

Or, you may be able to call your local recycling program and have them pick up an item for an extra fee. This is particularly helpful if your item is large, like a refrigerator.

Here are a few solutions:

Option 1: Bring your appliance to a recycling center

This is usually a free option for dealing with everyday appliances, like automatic coffee makers or slow cookers. You can find a local recycling center online.

Many cities have a public recycling center, but if you use a private company, make sure they can handle e-waste by choosing an e-Steward certified company.

Option 2: Bring your appliance to a scrap metal recycler

Not only is this free, but some recyclers may offer small amounts of money based on the weight of your items.

Option 3: Check if the manufacturer has a recycling program

Some manufacturers offer free recycling programs for their electronic products or similar items made by other manufacturers.

For example, Best Buy and Staples will accept any electronics, and Ikea will accept batteries.

Option 4: Check your utility service provider for large appliance pickup

Some utility services will pick up refrigerators and freezers, but you should choose a different option for smaller appliances (see Option 1 above).

How Are Electronics Recycled?

The electronic recycling process is different based on the materials used.

Recycling centers will first sort through all the appliances they receive, separating plastics from metals from other materials.

The center will separate valuable metals (like stainless steel) using a magnet before processing.

Am I Required to Recycle My Kitchen Appliances?

Over half of U.S. states have state-wide electronic recycling regulationsMost of these are focused on setting up systems to recycle electronics.

Nineteen of these state laws also ban electronics from landfills.

Don’t worry – you’re unlikely to face legal consequences for not recycling your electronics.

These laws aim to make recycling more accessible and efficient rather than penalize people who don’t recycle.

However, disposing of your appliances in an eco-friendly manner actually helps protect you and your community from the dangers of e-waste in landfills.


Knowing what to do with old appliances doesn’t come naturally. Most of us aren’t aware of the environmental implications of throwing away electrical items.

But, just like recycling plastics, it doesn’t have to be complicated!

Above, you discovered where and how to get rid of old appliances, most of which are free methods. Others can even pay you!

Keep these tips in mind the next time your toaster needs replacement… The planet will thank you!

Lena Milton

Lena Milton is a freelance writer covering sustainability and environmental science. She graduated from Brown University, and today writes to help consumers understand the environmental and ethical challenges in everyday life so we can find viable solutions for both.

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