Spring cleaning in NYC: Where to dispose of and donate your unwanted items

April 17, 2019

Spring may have started on March 20, but it’s only now that the weather’s warming up in New York City, which means it’s time for spring cleaning. Thanks to the recent Marie Kondo mania, cleaning has transformed from a chore to a celebration, but once you’ve taken stock of your life and separated that which sparks joy from that which simply takes up space, what do you do with all that unwanted stuff? From disposing of bulk items and electronics to making donations, here’s a handy NYC spring cleaning guide.

Disposing bulk items

If you want to throw out something that’s too big for a garbage can, you’re going to need to schedule an appointment in advance. Don’t worry, though, you can do it online. And if it’s a mattress or box spring make sure to bag it to prevent the spread of bed bugs and to avoid a $100 fine!

The rules for bulk disposal are very specific. As outlined by the Department of Sanitation, you have to schedule for the collection of CFC/Freon if you’re throwing out an appliance like a fridge or AC. And you’ve also got to take the doors off. Also, you can’t just sneak electronics like laptops or MP3 players in with regular trash–there are rules here, too. Residents of buildings with 10 or more units are eligible for ecycleNYC, a free electronic collection program. Meanwhile, if you live in Staten Island, Brooklyn, or Queens West, you can schedule curbside pick up. For everyone else, there are opportunities to both drop-off and donate electronics.

Selling & donating items

From Buffalo Exchange to Poshmark, there are ample opportunities for New Yorkers to sell their clothing online or in person. You can even unload an entire estate on Everything But The House. If you want to make a donation, however, consider Housing Works. Since 1994, the non-profit organization has been advocating for the rights of homeless New Yorkers, those living with HIV/AIDS, and, more recently, helping Haiti recover from the 2010 earthquake. Best of all, Housing Works takes furniture! And of course, there are countless Goodwill locations throughout NYC. By donating clothing and household items, you’re helping the long-time organization provide job training for local community members.

New York City also has a program called DonateNYC that was set-up to help donate various items ranging from electronics and cars to clothing and baby care goods. It’s all part of NYC’s plan to get New Yorkers to not send any more garbage to landfills after 2030. You can sort donation locations based on proximity, accepted goods, and even whether or not the organization will pick up items for free.


Throwing out chemicals and batteries

Whether it be under the sink, tucked in the back of a closet, or gathering dust in the garage, many New Yorkers have bags of batteries, old medicines, and paint cans that they just don’t know what to do with. Luckily, NYC hosts SAFE (Solvents, Automotive, Flammable, Electronic) disposal events to dispose of SAFE items. These events occur once in the spring and once in the fall in each of the five boroughs. And if you missed an event, there are special waste drop-off sites open Saturdays 10 to 5 p.m. as well as the last Friday of the month.

Turning loose change into cash

Technically, coins are cash, but no one wants to pay for drinks with a roll of quarters. Most banks no longer offer free coin counting, although they’ll gladly take coins you’ve counted and wrapped yourself (thanks, banks!). Luckily, you can just look up the closest Coinstar kiosk near you and get cash (with a 11.9% service fee, yeash!), no fee e-gift cards to outlets ranging from Amazon to Home Depot, or make a tax-deductible donation to any of Coinstar’s partner charities (the American Red Cross, The Humane Society, Unicef, etc).





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