You took it for a whirl — and over the next few years, it soaked, spun, and rinsed everything from stained sweaters and socks to musty bedsheets and bathroom towels. But what do you do after your washer wheezes and rattles through its final load? Before you drag it off, know that the cycle of your machine’s life shouldn’t end in a landfill. Appliances like washers and dryers often contain hazardous materials and toxic substances that can seep into the surrounding soil and water if the machine is not properly disposed of. Additionally, appliances include valuable resources like aluminum and copper, which can be recycled, limiting the need to mine for new materials.
We already know how toxins in ordinary detergents end up flushed into waterways, where they pose a threat to the environment and aquatic life. But while laundry sheets offer a convenient, eco-friendly alternative to detergents, there is no quick fix to get rid of your washer and dryer. Fortunately, you can take steps to dispose of them safely and responsibly — from hiring professionals to giving these laundry stalwarts an unlikely second life.
Donate or sell
Some people get rid of appliances to upgrade to energy and water-efficient models. But what if you’re not sure your washer or dryer still has some life left? How do you know they are really about to expire — or if they might still be helpful to someone else? Warning signs to look out for include:
- Noises: Not the run-of-the-mill, doing-the-laundry noises, mind you. Has your washer or dryer developed a metallic clang or screech? Does it sound like something’s loose? If so, get it checked out. But be warned: the diagnosis probably won’t be promising.
- Leaks: If you’re finding even small amounts of water under your washer, then it’s only a matter of time before you’re going to need to clean up a much larger mess.
- Damp clothes: If your dryer no longer lives up to its name it’s a sign of internal problems, possibly the sensors. Even if you call a professional to repair it, chances are the bill will be close to or as much as the price of a new model.
- Longer and longer cycles: If you’ve noticed your appliances are taking much longer than normal to finish the job, something’s wrong. Even if it’s not too much of a hassle right now, one day — possibly soon — it’s likely to just stop working altogether.
If your appliances aren’t flashing these red flags, the best thing you can do is give them a second life. Why not donate them to a charity or sell them locally through an online marketplace? As brand-new washers and dryers come with hefty price tags, many organizations and individuals are looking for affordable used appliances. Your old unit may be just what they need! So, before you dump it, investigate donating or selling first. If it’s usable but in questionable condition or needs an upgrade, make that known and consider giving it away for free. This is the path to a more sustainable community — helping those in need or buying and supporting secondhand.
Let’s say your washer or dryer has completely kicked it — there’s no way to fix it. You still have a few options. One of the most responsible ways to dispose of your washer or dryer is to recycle it. Many recycling facilities accept large appliances, and they will ensure your old unit is disposed of in an environmentally friendly way. Check with your local recycling facility to see if they accept large appliances and their requirements for preparing the device for recycling. Many obsolete washing and drying machines contain valuable materials, so if you call a junk removal service, make sure it will not just strip your old appliance for its parts and toss the rest into a landfill. Look for a recycling specialist that handles electronic waste. They will be able to give your machine the sendoff it deserves after years of service.
Check local regulations
If you decide to dispose of your washer or dryer, review local regulations to ensure you comply with specific laws or guidelines. Many jurisdictions have rules regarding the disposal of large appliances, so it’s important to research and follow these guidelines. (For example: expect a fine if you leave a large appliance on the curb for garbage collectors to deal with.) However, your municipal waste center will likely have a collection program for large or small appliances. And in many cases, it’s free if you drop off the items yourself. If in doubt, call them.
Hire a professional
Call the professionals when you’re still unsure what to do when getting rid of your washer and dryer. After all, disposing of a large and heavy appliance can be a daunting task. Fortunately, many companies specialize in the removal and disposal of large appliances. They have the expertise, tools, and equipment to remove your old unit and transport it safely and efficiently to the appropriate disposal facility. So, ask around or search online for a local service. Hiring a professional not only makes your life easier — you won’t have to worry about damaging your property or injuring yourself — but it ensures your appliances will be disposed of in a safe and eco-conscious way. You may also be able to have your old appliances taken away when your new models are delivered. Many major stores offer this option.
Be careful with hazardous materials
Don’t make guesses if you’ve decided to remove your washer and dryer yourself. These machines can be quite hazardous if not handled properly. If you’re unsure how to remove them, consult the owner’s manual or contact the manufacturer for instructions on safely handling and disposing of them. For example, some refrigerants used in heat pumps for dryers can harm the ozone layer and must be removed by a certified technician before disposal. Check out this guide on removing your washing machine to get started.
Tips on choosing an eco-friendly new washer and dryer
So now that you have decided to upgrade, what kind of machine do you choose? There are many factors to consider when buying new eco-friendly washers and dryers. Among them: price, model (front-loading or top-loading), space, convenience, electric or gas, and so much more. Luckily, you can read our complete guide to buying a new washer and dryer to get started. And why stop there? Consider ways to make your laundry room eco-friendly. You can begin by upgrading your ordinary laundry detergent to SaltyLama laundry detergent sheets. These easy-to-use, biodegradable strips come in compostable packaging and offer a powerful clean, free of harmful toxins and bulky plastic packaging.
Remember, if you need to get rid of your washer or dryer, doing so responsibly is essential. By following these guidelines, you can ensure your old units are disposed of in a safe and eco-conscious way.