Best Refrigerator Disposal Methods

Cream-colored vintage fridge in an industrial kitchen
You rely on your refrigerator every day, but refrigerators don't last forever. If your appliance is past its average refrigerator lifespan (about 14 years), it may be time to replace it the next time it malfunctions. Do you know how to dispose of a refrigerator properly after it’s broken?

Knowing how to get rid of a refrigerator can be daunting, but there are many options to consider, from disposal to selling, donating, or repurposing.

We’ll explore some of the best methods for refrigerator disposal and offer some creative uses for upcycling an old refrigerator that might make it worth keeping around.

9 Best Refrigerator Disposal Methods

If you’ve already weighed your options and had a certified service professional agree that it’s time to replace your refrigerator, there are several steps you can take next. A refrigerator must be disposed of safely and properly, which includes safe removal and disposal of the refrigerants and coolants.

Here are some ways to get rid of a refrigerator responsibly.

1. Ask Your Appliance Retailer To Pick It Up

As you prepare to buy a new refrigerator, ask your appliance retailer, “Where can I get rid of the refrigerator that just broke?” As a part of your purchase, the seller may offer to remove your old refrigerator as part of buying your new appliance from them, especially if they are already dropping the new one off at your home.

Pro tip: If the seller doesn't offer this service, don't hesitate to negotiate it as part of the transaction.

2. Donate the Refrigerator If It Still Works

If your current refrigerator is still in working condition and you're only replacing it because you want an upgrade, don’t throw it away! Instead, donate it to a local charity or nonprofit organization.

Not only will you feel good about donating something to a charitable cause, but the organization you choose may even pick it up from your home, resolving your refrigerator disposal dilemma. Call your local charities, such as the Salvation Army and Habitat for Humanity ReStore, to see if they’re able to take the old refrigerator off your hands.

3. Call a Nearby Recycling Center

If you can't donate your fridge or convince your appliance dealer to remove it, recycling the appliance should be the next option to try. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a Responsible Appliance Disposal program, which will help you find the best refrigerator recycling solution.

4. Contact Your Local Trash Collector

If none of the above options work, contact your local trash collector. They will explain their refrigerator disposal protocol and give you directions on how to get rid of your fridge responsibly.

The eight best ways to dispose of a refrigerator

5. Hire a Junk Removal Service

If the above options don’t work for you, a junk removal service is a great option. While this service costs money and has to be scheduled, junk removal specialists will handle everything for you. They will haul the appliance out and make sure it’s disposed of properly.

6. Check With Your Electric Company

Some electric companies will offer money or a credit toward your bill in exchange for old appliances. In some areas, they may even remove and dispose of the refrigerator on your behalf. Contact your utility company or check their website to see if they offer this service.

7. Sell It to a Scrapyard

Another option is to sell your old refrigerator to a scrapyard to make some money back on the appliance.

To sell a refrigerator for scrap, you first need to have the refrigerant removed and the lines capped by a licensed repair company. The unit should also be tagged with the proper EPA stickers showing that the refrigerant was properly removed.

8. List It for Sale Online

If your refrigerator is still working, another option is to sell it online. Using applications like Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist, you may be able to get more money for it than you would as scrap metal.

What To Do With Old Refrigerators: 5 DIY Ideas

Aside from getting rid of a broken refrigerator, some creative alternatives can give your old appliance a second life in your home. Here are some ways to upcycle your old refrigerator and even create a new piece of decor in the process.

An older, miscolored fridge next to a list of creative uses for an old refrigerator

1. Turn It Into a Bookcase

If you’re looking to start or expand your library, consider using your old refrigerator as a unique bookcase. When your refrigerator isn’t cooling any longer and can’t be repaired, the shelves and drawers can still be used as creative storage.

Simply clean the interior, unscrew the door, and set your books inside. You might also want to paint the fridge and dress up the front of the crisper drawers to give your new bookshelf a fresh look.

2. Repurpose It as a Pantry

Have you always wanted a pantry but didn’t have the space? A broken fridge is nothing more than a place to store food at room temperature. To convert yours into a pantry, give the appliance a good cleaning, place it in a convenient corner of your kitchen, repaint it if desired, and fill the shelves with canned and boxed goods you would typically keep in a cupboard.

You will want to remove the refrigerator gasket to prevent an air-tight seal, which could encourage a musty smell and mold to develop. A plate of fresh coffee grounds or a cup of baking soda will also absorb any bad odors that may start to form.

3. Make a Garden Planter

Purchasing a raised flower bed can set you back hundreds of dollars. Why not get the same effect for free by using your old refrigerator? First, call a residential refrigerator repair service to remove the refrigerant.

Next, take out the shelves and drawers, unscrew the door, and drill small drainage holes in the back of the refrigerator. Paint the exterior so it complements your garden, set the appliance on bricks to ensure good draining, fill it with dirt, and plant whatever your heart desires!

4. DIY It Into a Kegerator

Ready-built kegerators are available for a few hundred dollars, but in one weekend, you can make your own using your old (still functioning) refrigerator and an inexpensive kegerator conversion kit.

This is a great option if you’re looking for a fun DIY project. You’ll need a few additional tools and supplies, such as an electric drill, saw, and PVC pipe, along with a bit of electrical know-how. This project usually works best using a mini fridge that still runs.

5. Convert It Into a Meat-Curing Chamber

Have you ever wanted to make your own charcuterie? Without a basement or cellar, it may seem impossible to achieve the ideal temperature and humidity for curing meat. That’s where your old refrigerator comes in!

The prime temperature for curing meat is about 60 degrees Fahrenheit, making your aging fridge a great fit for the task. Your refrigerator will need a rack along the top to hang ham, salami, and other meat, in addition to a cool mist humidifier, a small fan, and a few other components to make the conversion into a meat curing chamber.

FAQ About Refrigerator Disposal

Knowing how to get rid of a broken refrigerator can be challenging. Here are answers to some common questions about what to do with an old fridge.

Do Scrap Collectors Take Fridges?

Yes, scrap collectors will take old refrigerators. However, the fridge first needs to have its refrigerant removed and lines capped by a licensed repair company and get an EPA tag signifying proper refrigerant removal.

How Can I Make Money With My Old Fridge?

You can make money on an old fridge by selling it secondhand or for parts to a scrapyard. If your refrigerator still works, you can sell it online; if it doesn’t work, you can sell the scraps. Your electric company may also take old appliances off your hands for cash or a credit to your account.

Who Will Pick Up an Old Refrigerator for Free?

Local charities or churches may pick up your old fridge for free. In some places, the local sanitation department may also pick it up at no additional cost.

Can Your Refrigerator Be Saved?

While these ideas for refrigerator disposal are certainly worthwhile, you should always have broken appliances assessed by an appliance expert before officially retiring them.

If your refrigerator is having problems, remember that you may not have to replace it. There's a chance that a simple fix can offer a more convenient and likely less costly path. Instead of giving up on your fridge, contact your local Mr. Appliance to schedule a refrigerator repair today!