How Much Does Junk Removal Cost?
Confronting a garage full of unwanted, unusable items can make you want to throw up your hands and say, “Can’t someone just haul this away?” Actually, someone can—junk removal costs range between $50 and $361.
- Typical Range: $50 to $361
- National Average: $233
Most people have a spot in their home that they’d prefer to keep the door closed on: a basement, “junk room,” or attic. Unless that junk is addressed, it will only grow. Often people will begin with a goal of throwing out or donating a certain number of unused items each week or borrowing a truck to haul a piece of broken furniture to a transfer station. But sometimes the pile has grown too high, and the task seems insurmountable. In those cases, hiring a professional junk remover is a great idea—and with the national average for junk removal cost at $233 and typically ranging between $50 and $361, it’s not as big an expense as you may think. If the alternative is purchasing a dump permit and making 15 trips to the dump or paying for bulk pickup at your home, it may even be a bargain to have someone else haul away junk from your home.
Factors in Calculating Junk Removal Cost
“Junk” can describe many things: defunct appliances, old furniture, unwanted clothes, or even a buildup of shipping boxes that haven’t made it into the recycling. The cost of removing the debris, whether it’s a task taken on by a resident or a professional, will vary based on a number of elements—how much, what kind, and where the junk is located.
Amount of Junk
The factor that most directly affects the cost of junk removal is the amount of junk. Professionals may charge by the piece for larger bulk removal, like a flat charge for the removal of a mattress or an old water heater. Or they may charge by volume: Some services will measure the volume by weight or cubic feet, while others use a simpler method of charging by the truckload. If the municipality requires permits for dumping, those costs may also be related to volume. The more junk there is to be removed, the higher the costs will be, although professional haulers may have a minimum charge that must be met. For example, debris amounting to a quarter of a truckload, or about 1 cubic yard, will cost an average of $150 to $275 to remove. A larger pile taking up a full truckload, or 3.5 cubic yards, can cost as much as $400 to $600 to remove.
Type of Junk
The type of junk will affect the cost because of the different methods of disposal required for different materials. For example, yard waste can be hauled away and disposed of at the local dump or transfer station, requiring only a permit or residential sticker, which is a small fee. Trash or garbage is priced similarly. On the other hand, disposing of a mattress or furniture may cost more. Mattresses and furniture are non-compostable and must be disassembled before they can be partially recycled, so the disposal fee is higher—sometimes as high as $600. The weight and number of people required for the transportation can also vary by type; wrestling an old concrete-lined water heater out of a basement with no outdoor hatch or egress is not a one-person task, and a large and heavy appliance can’t be taken away in the back of a sedan. The combination of additional manpower and the need for a suitable vehicle can bump up the cost of hauling large and heavy junk.
Labor and Permits
The labor costs for removing junk from a home or business will largely depend on what’s being moved—the more people and the more time needed to complete the job, the higher the cost will be. Some junk-hauling companies incorporate the labor into the flat fees per job rather than itemizing the costs for the customer to contest.
Junk has to be dumped or disposed of somewhere, and each municipality will have different policies on the cost and procedures of that disposal. In some towns, the permit to use the town dump is free with residency, while in others there’s a one-time or annual fee for a permit. Still other areas charge by individual permit, and the costs depend on the type of junk. If renting a dumpster, a homeowner or contractor may need a permit from the town or city to place the dumpster, in which case the fee will be dependent on the length of time the dumpster will remain in place. Searching for “hauling services near me” or “junk pickup near me” will help you find local companies who will be well informed on local ordinances and permit costs, which means you’ll likely get a more accurate quote for services than you might with an out-of-town crew.
The state and town in which the junk will be removed also plays into the overall cost. Permit fees differ based on the local government policies, and labor costs will also vary based on the local market rates. In addition, removing junk requires a vehicle—sometimes a large one—or multiple trips to and from the disposal site. Especially if the disposal site isn’t close to the location of the home, gas prices can play a large role in the total cost of the project. Depending on location, the gas prices may differ significantly, as can the distance between residential areas and disposal sites.
Additional Costs and Considerations
Removing the resulting pile of debris can incur a different set of costs depending on the labor and disposal method it entails.
DIY junk removers will want to spend some time checking out their local advertisements for free disposal events. Often, especially after tax season, local office supply stores will offer free shredding and recycling events. Paper is easy to recycle—many areas have free recycling pickups alongside trash pickups. Other kinds of recycling can be more expensive, though. Electronic waste can be a significant cost, especially for commercial junk removal. Old monitors, printers, and computer parts have to be recycled carefully to avoid putting into a landfill plastics and batteries that will damage water runoff. Similar to free shredding events, some towns offer periodic e-waste drop-off events for free. Otherwise, e-waste disposal can be charged by the pound or by volume. Some areas also require tires, mattresses, and appliances to be recycled, which will cost significantly more than just dropping these unwanted items at a dump or landfill.
Home Clean-out Services
Clearing out a home before downsizing or after the residents have passed away can generate a stunning amount of material to be trashed or recycled. Some companies provide home clean-out services exclusively; the company will sort the contents of the home into appropriate categories (donate, sell, trash) and handle the disposal of all the materials. Some of the best cleaning services also offer clean-out packages, but they may still require hiring a separate disposal or haul-away service. Depending on the size of the home and the amount of material that needs to be removed, the cost of a whole home clean-out can cost between $500 and $1,500, and for larger estates, the cost can rise to $2,000.
Commercial Junk Removal
When a business closes or relocates, a slew of desks, chairs, file cabinets, divider walls, and electronics have to be removed. Sometimes this involves liquidation sales prior to removing whatever is left, while other situations simply require packing up and disposing of the furniture and other materials. Because electronics usually need to be processed or recycled differently than furniture, this process can require several disposal areas and a fair amount of sorting. The cost will depend on the volume of material to be removed combined with fees and permits for different types of waste disposal.
If a professional has been hired to remove junk, they may choose the option of dumpster rental over repeated trips to a disposal site. Homeowners can also choose this route if they’d prefer not to hire a pro—parking a dumpster in the driveway for a week or two can be a very cost-effective way to select and dispose of unwanted items gradually, which can make it an easier process. There are many variables in the cost of dumpster rental. The size of the dumpster and the length of the rental will be the most significant costs, with the average rental costing between $290 and $480. The town may require a permit to park it on the property and may limit the length of time the dumpster can remain in place. Often, especially when there’s a lot of junk to move, homeowners choose to hire some help getting trash to the dumpster and loading it, which would add labor costs to the rental cost.
Types of Junk Removal
What are you throwing away? The materials in the trash heap will determine how they have to be handled and how much it will cost. While homes can hold an almost unlimited number of categories of junk, most of it falls into a few larger umbrella groups that determine the processing needs and costs.
Appliances generally cost between $60 and $200 to remove the first piece, with a reduced cost of about $20 for each additional piece in the same job. Why the wide range? Some appliances, such as older air conditioners and refrigerators, may have chemicals like refrigerants in them that need to be disposed of separately. Also, appliances can vary greatly in size and weight, so the type of appliance will affect the cost as well.
Electronic waste, such as old televisions, computers, and cell phones, contain materials that are not safe to leave in a landfill. Expect to pay between $10 and $100 per piece or group of pieces to dispose of electronics.
Expect to pay between $100 and $600 to dispose of furniture. Large, heavy pieces will be more costly because of the additional labor required and the vehicles necessary to move them, but often if several pieces are being removed at the same time a service will offer a bulk discount.
On average, construction debris costs between $100 and $800 to offload. The range is based on the total volume of the debris as well as variations in the materials. Anything containing asbestos requires special handling (at a higher price), and many areas have rules governing the manner in which asphalt shingles are trashed. If there’s been significant demolition of a structure, either to remove or rebuild a home, the cost may significantly exceed this average range.
While some towns and cities contract with trash removal services to pick up trash from their residents on a weekly basis, not all do. In those cases, residents have to hire trash removal services separately. This pickup will be scheduled every week or every 2 weeks and will cost between $50 and $100, though costs may vary based on the length of the contract. Searching for “garbage removal near me” will help locate different service providers in the area and enable you to compare pricing and schedules.
Yard waste can cost between $50 and $550 to remove, based on the amount of material and the type. This cost will also vary based on whether or not the waste has been gathered and brought to the curb prior to removal or if the contractor hired to remove it will also be completing the yard cleanup.
Some items can’t just be dumped in the trash. Chemicals such as paint, certain cleaning solvents, and mercury, along with batteries and fluorescent light bulbs, threaten the environment and the health and safety of those who live near disposal sites and must be handled with care. While most municipalities run occasional hazmat disposal events, many people don’t want to keep those materials hanging around in the garage while waiting for an event and are willing to pay the $50 to $500 to have them disposed of properly and promptly.
Do I Need Junk Removal?
Junk can pile up quickly and take over a home without the owner realizing. Then, one day, the homeowner realizes that their old furniture and appliances have piled up to the extent that their home looks cluttered and makes it hard to clean. In these circumstances, junk removal can help homeowners regain control of their home, making it easier to keep clean and tidy and making it a more pleasant place to spend time.
Cleaning a Cluttered Home
Sometimes a home just needs a good clearing out. It might be time for a fresh start, or the home may have gone through a foreclosure and be cluttered with the old belongings of the former owner. Alternatively, people may be faced with the seemingly impossible task of clearing out a deceased relative’s home in order to prepare it for sale. There may be a lot of material to move—and especially in the case of a beloved relative, the physical act of throwing away their possessions can be painful. Junk removal can help make these processes streamlined and much easier.
Removing Old Appliances or Furniture
Old furniture and appliances are cumbersome and can be heavy and difficult to move. Throwing in a set of stairs and trying to do it independently is a recipe for a trip to the emergency room (or at the very least, a physical therapist). Junk removal can help get rid of unwanted appliances and furniture so the homeowner can regain some of their space back in their home.
Discarding Heavy Items
In addition to heavy furniture and appliances, there are other heavy items in a home that may need disposal. Large safes, heavy tools such as drill presses or woodworking equipment, and lawn-care tools can pile up since it’s not always easy for homeowners to move them. Junk removal can help get rid of these items.
Renovating a Home
Home renovations generate so much more trash than most people realize. Walls look so smooth and thin when they’re in place, but tear them apart and they’re suddenly a huge, spiky pile of torn paper and broken drywall. And nobody can fit an old cast-iron bathtub in their weekly trash bin (or, in all likelihood, get it down the stairs and out to the curb). Junk removal allows homeowners to dispose of home renovation debris safely.
Junk Removal: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
In fairness, many home residents can accomplish most junk removal. Strong people (or people with a lot of strong friends) with a truck can take care of most, if not all, junk removal. Neighbors can take turns helping each other out. And not everyone has the budget to pay someone else for something they can do themselves, especially since sometimes it’s hard to quote a precise cost up front until the removal begins.
If the cost can be managed, however, this task is one that it’s worth hiring a professional to complete. It can be as much physical labor as moving to a new home, and there’s real danger involved in moving heavy appliances or furniture. Professional movers know how best to dispose of materials from your home—they’ll know the proper disposal sites and be able to transfer the materials to their disposal sites in a vehicle that is designed for that purpose, instead of shoving an old dresser into the back of a minivan. Professional junk removers can schedule a time, show up, safely remove unwanted materials, and dispose of them properly with minimal inconvenience to the customer. Stack that accomplishment up against hours of heavy, sweaty lifting and packing; multiple trips to different disposal areas; and the delay of ascertaining what can and can’t be left at each site (and likely returning home with at least several items that couldn’t be disposed of, pushing the task completion off for another week), and the removal service starts to look like a real value, both from a time and safety perspective. Here are some of the biggest reasons to hire a professional for this job.
Saves Time and Money
Time is at a premium in most people’s lives. Renting a dumpster for a week to take care of a collection of junk seems like an appealing cost savings over paying a removal service, but since the cost of a dumpster and the cost of a removal service for most items are comparable, it may not be a big savings after all. Remember that it’s important to pay yourself for your time—once you’ve added in the hours of sorting, hauling, and loading (and then icing your back and taking painkillers), it’s likely that the removal service looks like the better deal.
It’s astonishing how much clutter accumulates in a home. Boxes and boxes of stuff in attics that haven’t been opened, furniture saved “just in case,” and bins of clothes that haven’t fit in years fill spaces and make homes that are plenty large enough for their residents feel close and crowded. Hiring a removal service can make it easier to part with items being kept “just in case,” because it’s easier in the heat of the moment to simply say, “Yes, take that box, too.”
Reduces Environmental Footprint
Junk removal services know their business. They can take a pile of junk and separate it quickly into what can be recycled, what can be donated, what goes to the dump (or the hazmat center), and what they might be able to sell for an additional profit. Then they can haul the items away to the appropriate locations in one trip, rather than in repeated back-and-forths in a car, burning gas and oil. By disposing of junk responsibly and correctly, junk removal services keep unnecessary or unsafe materials out of the landfill and recycle what they can.
Reduces Safety Hazards
Safety hazards come in several flavors when moving junk. The most obvious is the likelihood of injury while lifting, moving, and transporting heavy materials. Another danger is the possibility of unwitting exposure to toxins or hazardous materials, such as lead or asbestos. Driving an overstuffed vehicle or a rental pickup full of branches isn’t a great idea, either. It’s safer to trust experienced pros who know how to safely handle the materials and transportation.
How to Save Money on Junk Removal
Hiring a professional to remove junk from your home is generally a money-saver in and of itself, but there’s always an opportunity to save more.
- Check local resources for free shredding, e-waste, and hazmat disposal events.
- Before hiring a service to remove furniture or functioning appliances, check with organizations that furnish living spaces for those in need. They may be able to pick up donated items, saving money on the overall cost of removing junk.
- Check for free junk removal services in your area (search for “free junk removal near me”). Some companies will collect and dispose of junk for free because they’re able to harvest or resell items to make money.
- Combine your junk-collection projects and ask the contractor if there’s a discount available for larger jobs. Sometimes you can save on permits or passes if all the removal is completed at one time.
- Condense your items. More volume equals more cost, so flattening boxes and disassembling large furniture or equipment can reduce the price.
Questions to Ask About Junk Removal
As you should when hiring any contractor, ask friends and neighbors for recommendations, and check out potential companies with the Better Business Bureau and through online home service sites. Ask for references and follow up on them. These are some questions specific to hiring junk removal services.
- Are you licensed and insured for this work in this state?
- Do you already hold permits for the dump or transfer station in this town?
- How does your pricing structure work? Who is responsible if your quote is inaccurate?
- Can you handle recycling appropriately?
- What is your availability? Can I schedule a specific day for the work to be completed?
While many people think that junk removal is something they can handle themselves, it’s simpler, easier, and often less expensive to pay someone with more experience to do the job. Here are some questions to get you started as you consider the work to be done and look for assistance.
Q. What is junk removal, and what can it include?
Junk removal is the process of identifying items in your home that you no longer want, removing the items from the home or yard, and disposing of them at the proper location. It can include anything from yard waste to construction debris or whole house clean-outs—or just a big pile of boxes that need to be recycled but won’t fit in your vehicle. You can find local companies that provide this service by searching for “junk removal near me,” “junk haulers near me,” or “trash removal near me.”
Q. What do I do with items I do not want to keep, but I also do not want to throw away?
Items that will be useful to other people can be sold at a yard sale or online, given away at a “free” yard sale, or donated to an organization that will either sell them to raise funds for charity or put them to good use with people who need them. This is a very environmentally conscious view to take—it keeps usable materials out of landfills and helps those who do have a need for the items access them more affordably.
Q. Will a junk removal company throw all my stuff away?
Most likely, no. It will donate what it can, recycle what it can, and then throw away what’s left.
Q. Can I get a tax deduction for donating my old furniture or appliances to charity?
Used clothing and household goods can earn a tax deduction if you itemize your deductions. You’ll need to request a receipt for the deduction from the charity that accepts the donations so you’ll have a dollar figure to claim on your tax return and to keep with your tax records in case you’re audited.
Q. What is the cheapest way to get rid of junk?
Cheap junk removal options include repurposing items, donating to charities (especially if the charity will come pick up your donation for you), utilizing your regular trash pickup to slowly throw away as much as you can each week, or carefully comparing companies and selecting a junk removal company that will do the work for an amount you can afford.
Q. How much does it cost to junk a couch?
It will cost $20 to $30 to dispose of a couch at a local landfill or dump. If it’s still in good shape, it is free to donate the couch to a charity—you may even make a few dollars in a tax deduction!
Q. Should I tip junk haulers?
As with any other service provider, it’s not required to tip, but it’s very much appreciated. Junk hauling in inglorious work; there’s a lot of lifting, carrying large items (or trash) in small spaces, and a lot of time spent at the dump or landfill. If your haulers do a good job, it’s kind to slip them a 10 to 20 percent tip, especially if there are a lot of stairs or they had to move particularly large or unsavory materials.