Moving out waste guide: Where to throw it out

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Box Of Waste

Your lease is up or you sold your home, you’re all packed, and you’re doing a final sweep of your apartment or house before moving out. But what do you do with that leftover junk? It might be tempting just to trash everything you’re not taking to your next place, but not everything should go to the curb. Whether you’re in Madison or live in a surrounding community, read this moving out waste guide and recycling checklist for where to throw out various types of waste.

Make sure THIS ENDS UP in the right place…

Some household items, like mercury-containing devices, paint, pesticides, old medications and more can be hazardous to public health or the environment, so they should not go into the regular trash or down the drain. Fortunately, there are several sites in the area for you to safely get rid of those items.

Household Hazardous Waste

Examples: paint, pesticides, mercury-containing devices, gasoline, flammable materials, aerosols, organic solvents

Dane County residents can bring household hazardous chemicals and electronics to the Dane County Clean Sweep Facility at the Dane County Landfill. Some communities also organize hazardous waste disposal events in the spring and fall. Visit the Clean Sweep website for the landfill location, a site map, hours of operation and a complete list of accepted materials.

Pro tip: There is a $10 fee per trip, per household, so coordinate with your roommates or family before bringing a load of chemicals to the site.

Appliances, Microwaves, Electronics and Large Items

Examples: furniture, refrigerators, air conditioners, lawnmowers, computers, monitors, tires, microwave ovens, televisions, mattresses, toasters, fans and more

Most large items, appliances (large or small) and electronics being disposed of in the City of Madison require a work order from the Streets Division. You can view the full list of items, fees and collection rules on the Streets Division website. Some items have disposal fees for curbside pick-up and other items (like electronics, TVs and computers) may only be disposed of at a drop-off site.

Large item pick up in Madison-area municipalities may be serviced by Pelliterri Waste Systems, Waste Management or LRS/Badgerland, Contact your disposal company for pricing and removal of special items.

Pro tip: Some retailers and appliance dealers remove and haul old appliances when you purchase a new appliance. There are also a handful of local scrap metal recycling dealers that accept old appliances. As always, it’s a great idea to check if your item is reusable or has resale value first.

Student Furniture

The annual UW and Madison College student move out in mid-August can generate a lot of questions about what belongs at the curb and what doesn’t. Fortunately, Madison’s Streets & Recycling division has a great resource about downtown Madison’s student moving days on/around August 14th and 15th.

If you live in the student move out area, most items may be set by the curb according to city guidelines. The Streets Division typically empties refuse and recycling more regularly during the first two weeks in August to keep neighborhoods clean. However, if you are disposing of items that require a fee, or would like to dispose of larger items outside of the defined move out area or collection dates, submit a work order to the division.

Pro tip: Before putting items curbside, first try reselling to make some cash or donate your usable items to local organizations.


Even though they’re small, single-use batteries should not be placed in your trash can. Instead, they can be taken in small quantities to a drop-off site listed on the Call2Recycle website.

Pro tip: Each type of battery (lithium, nickel and alkaline) has specific handling instructions; know the rules before you go.

Light Bulbs

Bring dead incandescent and compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) to one of several locations throughout Dane County. Use the county’s recycling and disposal directory to learn where.

Pro tip: If a CFL bulb breaks, don’t throw it in the trash. It contains small amounts of mercury, so you should follow the EPA’s directions for clean-up and bring it to Dane County Clean Sweep.

Unflushable pills are one of 6 things not to flush.


Take your unused pills, vitamins and medications (prescription and non-prescription) or pharmaceutical waste in a sealed plastic bag to a Safe Communities MedDrop location.

Pro tip: Don’t ever flush medications. Medications that enter our plant cannot be removed during wastewater treatment and will (eventually) end up in our local waters.

Rags, Paper Towels, Disinfecting Wipes

The toilet is not a trash can! Materials like rags, paper towels and disinfecting wipes can clog pipes and cause sewer backups. So, as you’re cleaning your house or apartment, place these items in the regular trash.

Pro tip: Check out our nonflushables page to learn more about what you can and what you shouldn’t put down drains.

Something not on this list?

If you’re not finding what you need on this waste guide, Madison’s Streets & Recycling department has great information on refuse and recycling, as well as a helpful Recycle Coach app offering notifications on waste disposal. Local service providers Pelliterri Waste Systems, Waste Management and LRS/Badgerland provide helpful information for residents in surrounding communities.

The information in this moving out waste guide and blog article was created as a collaboration between our District, the UW-Madison Office of Sustainability and Dane County Clean Sweep.

Article compiled by Amy Steger