How to Get Rid of Anything

Trash from Perry Street in the West Village.Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine
Illustration by Peter Arkle

Fridges and air conditioners
Call 311 to make a Freon-removal appointment, then place the rubbish curbside the night before your special date. The DSNY will remove the gases and place a bright-orange sticker on the item, which gives sanitation workers the green light to cart it off. With fridges, don’t forget to take off the door, which is required by law so that no kiddies get stuck inside.

Ovens and dishwashers
Just boot them to the curb the night before metals-­collection day; doing it any other time could result in a $100 fine for the building owner.

The city suggests trucking a retired computer, TV, or VCR back to its original retailer, which is required by law to take it back. Alternatively, contact 4th Bin (855-329-2531;, a local electronics-recycling service that’ll not only come to you but also wipe your hard drive before hauling it off. CDs and DVDs, meanwhile, may be thrown out with regular garbage.

Paint and other toxins
The DSNY has a household Special Waste Drop-Off Site in each borough open either Friday or Saturday of every week (check for a schedule). Take leftover paint, paint thinner, and turpentine there for safe disposal, along with batteries, mercury thermometers, tires, fluorescent lightbulbs, and even nail polish and polish remover.

Just park it on the sidewalk the night before your regularly scheduled refuse-collection day. Same goes for other large pieces of furniture, like armoires and bookshelves. If the pieces are in good condition, consider Housing Works (888-493-6628;, which will schedule a pickup, refurbish it, resell it, and donate proceeds to New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS.

Because of the risk of bedbugs, mattresses must be placed in plastic sheeting or specially designed bags (available for purchase at any mattress or hardware store) before being plopped curbside. Without the proper bagging, building owners can be fined $100.

Dirty diapers
They’re free to go in the regular trash, but if you’re concerned about paper waste, consider Diaperkind (718-965-9555; Run out of a Gowanus warehouse, the cloth-diaper service (from $35 per week) includes weekly pickup and washing, as well as a mentoring service for new parents who are still getting the hang of it.

Muffy and Fido
So your pet died. You could (1) double-bag it, mark it “dead animal,” and leave it on the curb with the rest of your garbage; or (2) have a heart and call Pet Haven Services (917-608-9729;, which will pick up your friend within 24 hours and arrange a private cremation or proper burial at a pet cemetery in the Poconos (from $50).

Tips From a Trash-Picker

Befriend the super:
“At apartment complexes, the supers take stuff that’s cool and store it in the basement. They get overcrowded though, so ask what’s available. You’d be amazed at what’s down there.” —Nick DiMola, owner of DiMola Bros. Rubbish Removal and avid trash collector

Odor eaters:
Old wives agree: You can quell just about any stink by lining the bottom of your garbage can with one of these tried-and-true nostril savers.
• One cup baking soda plus one tsp. tea-tree oil.
• Used dryer sheets.
• Pulverized lumps of charcoal.
• Kitty litter.

How to Get Rid of Anything