What Does the Junk Hauler Do With Your Old Stuff—And Why You Should Care

Junk-hauling services offer a handy solution to getting rid of clutter, but what happens to the stuff they pick up?
Teresa Odle Avatar
Blue junk container gets hauled away by white truck.
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DIY projects, moves, or simple spring cleaning can create a pile of extra or unwanted items. While many charities take furniture, household items, clothes, and even building materials, donating everything can lead to several trips and the need to borrow or rent a truck. And let’s face it, charities have lists of items they won’t accept, so you can’t necessarily drop it all off at once.

Enter junk removal services. The companies charge a fee to haul off items that are large or bulky, or that you can’t recycle or place out for city trash pick-ups. Lisa Merry, president of Junk King, says the beauty of a full hauling service like theirs is that “customers don’t need to worry about sorting or gathering items themselves.” The service sorts items that are recyclable or helpful for partner charities, “ensuring a seamless and stress-free experience” for customers, she says.

Types of Junk Removal

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When you have only a mattress or piece of furniture, you might find a specialty service that removes those items. Some charities also offer local pick-up services for large or higher-priced items. Junk removal services also haul items for several charities, which means one call, no trips, and the heavy lifting handled. Companies like Junk King, which was started in a San Carlos, California garage in 2005, have local franchises. Now a part of Neighborly, Merry says Junk King has more than 170 locations and nearly 600 trucks.

Most services pick up items at curbside with a truck. In addition, there are junk removal services that offer dumpster rental, a convenience for households undergoing remodels or other projects that take some time to complete. Be sure you can handle placing heavy items into the dumpster and the company’s rules on unacceptable junk. Renters pay for the time they have the dumpster and the company hauls it off at the end of the term. When using truck hauling, ask about indoor pickup costs if items are too heavy to haul out to the curb.

Regardless of the type, the best junk removal services offer clear and competitive pricing and eco-friendly removal. Many also offer same-day or next-day pickup.

Where Picked-up Items Go

Second hand furniture in a thrift store.
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One of the biggest advantages of junk removal services is the ability to donate and recycle large quantities or heavy items you can’t transport on your own. It’s important to ask the company you hire not only what they do with items but also for proof of that arrangement. By seeking partnerships with local charities and companies, junk haulers can make the most of your unwanted items. “Junk King prioritizes eco-friendly practices,” says Merry. “Approximately 60 percent of the items that are picked up are recycled, helping to reduce waste and minimize environmental impact,” she says.

Merry cites community-based examples like providing furniture for homeless people transitioning to housing, or assisting single parents and victims of natural disasters. Be sure to look for or ask about a company’s eco-friendly policies for getting rid of your junk before signing. Junk King and others have partnerships with local and national charities such as Goodwill Industries and Habitat for Humanity.

Companies also will partner with local resellers and recyclers. “Our general recycling policy involves sorting materials at our facilities to ensure that recyclable items are diverted from landfills,” says Merry.

Items Most Companies Accept

Putting second hand electronics in a donation box.
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The range of items junk haulers can take is broad, from old air conditioners to hot tubs and basketball hoops. Aside from furniture and mattresses, examples include:

  • TVs and electronics
  • Exercise equipment
  • Appliances
  • Glass
  • Pianos
  • Pool tables
  • Scrap metal

It’s also possible to haul off bathtubs, masonry, carpets, and other items pulled out during renovations. For example, The Junkluggers accepts concrete, radiators, and gravel.

Junk haulers typically will not pick up things you shouldn’t put in a dumpster that include hazardous substances like pesticides, gasoline, open cans of paint, and asbestos. Check with junk haulers in your area if uncertain; most post lists of acceptable and unacceptable items or materials. If there isn’t a junk hauler near you that removes these hazardous substances, you’ll have to take yours to a hazardous waste disposal site.

Average Costs for Junk Removal Services

A home's curbside filled with second hand furniture.
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The cost of junk removal varies by location, but most pricing is based on the size of a load. The company may base the amount on volume (weight or cubic feet) and carve out set prices for items. For example, mattresses require breaking down before recycling their components, so the company might charge for the time it takes to do so. Labor costs might run higher for heavy items that require more manpower.

Merry says transportation, labor, and disposal fees make up most of their costs. “Factors such as fuel prices, distance traveled, and the volume and weight of items being hauled can impact those costs,” she says.

Companies should provide a written estimate based on questions you answer or an onsite visit. In general, expect to pay $50 for a small load of truck hauling up to $600 for a full truck. Expect to pay $100 to $350 per week to rent a small dumpster (10-cubic-yard capacity), more for a large one.