How to Dispose of Old Carpet (The Right Way)

old carpet being rolled up by home owner

Eventually, everything wears out, even carpeting. If your carpeting has seen better days and you have decided to dispose of it you will quickly discover that simply leaving hundreds of square feet of carpeting at the curb with the rest of the trash is not a viable option. That raises the question: what is the right way to dispose of old carpet? In this guide, the expert team at Steve’s Carpet Care & Restoration will provide several ways you can dispose of old carpeting responsibly.

Why Can’t I Just Leave It at the Curb?

Whether you live in Arvada or elsewhere your first impulse is probably to remove the old carpeting, roll it up, and leave it at the curb on trash collection day. But while that might have been an option in your grandparent’s day it won’t work today.

First of all, most cities and towns only accept bulk trash on specified days. So if you leave it at the curb any old time chances are the garbage man will ignore it. And if it gets rained on while it’s sitting there it’s going to become a heavy, sloppy mess that you’ll have to drag back into the house.

In addition, carpeting is tough stuff, which is why it was able to stand up to the foot traffic in your house for so many years. When it’s picked up at your house and dumped into a landfill it can take 50 years or more to break down. And that’s not all. A wide variety of toxic chemicals are used in the production of carpeting and as the carpet breaks down these chemicals leach into the ground wreaking havoc with the environment.

In the following video, the Aquafil Group explores the reasons why it is essential to recycle old carpeting instead of leaving it to be thrown in a landfill.

Now let’s look at ways to dispose of old carpeting responsibly.

Method One: Recycle It

Recycling old carpets is not as straightforward as recycling empty bottles and cans. As we mentioned, carpet contains a plethora of potentially toxic chemicals and these need to be taken into account by the organization that collects the old carpet. Still, recycling is possible, and old carpeting winds up in a variety of new products including:

  • Roofing shingles
  • Stepping stones
  • Industrial flooring
  • Railroad ties
  • Composite lumber
  • Carpet cushions
  • Parking barriers
Image of a phone with a recycling app open

If you want to find a carpet recycler in your area we suggest you check into an organization called CARE Carpet America Recovery Effort

Visit their Carpet Collector Finder Map to find local locations to recycle old carpeting in areas throughout the United States.

Method Two: Hire a Bulk Trash Pickup Service

If you leave large quantities of old carpet at the curb on trash day there is virtually no chance the city will pick it up. One alternative to hoping your city or town takes it is to hire a bulk trash pickup service like construction sites use. It won’t be cheap and there is no way to guarantee the carpeting won’t end up in a landfill (these companies have special permits to dispose of all manner of bulk trash). But chances are you can locate such a company in just a couple of minutes by doing an internet search.

If you are concerned about the old carpet winding up in a landfill, ask the company how they dispose of it and keep looking until you find a company that gives you an acceptable answer.

Method Three: Donate the Carpet to a Charity

Donation is pretty common for excess carpeting leftover from a new installation. But there are also instances when certain charities and non-profits will accept old carpeting. For example: animal shelters are always looking for ways to make the animals in their care more comfortable and some may very well accept some of your old carpeting provided it is in reasonable condition. That’s reasonable, not perfect. They’ll typically use it to line the floor of dog and cat cages and kennels.

Method Four: Let the Flooring Company Deal With It

Carpet cleaning companies have neither the ways nor the means to dispose of old carpeting. But if you plan on installing new carpet there’s a fair chance the company handling the installation will take the old carpet and dispose of it for you. You can be pretty sure they won’t do it for free. But if you’re willing to pay a few bucks per square foot this can be a viable way to rid yourself of your old carpeting.

Exactly how they dispose of the carpeting is something you may or may not want to know. But if it concerns you, ask them. If they answer that they dispose of it at the local landfill and that bothers you, ask them if they’d be willing to transport it to a particular recycling center instead. Many will agree, as long as you’re willing to pay a little more.

Method Five: Find Ways to Upcycle It Around the House

Before you look into ways of disposing of your old carpeting consider ways you might be able to upcycle it and put it to use around the house. Before you do however, engage in a bit of rug cleaning to ensure the upcycled carpeting is free of dust mites, pollen, and other pollutants.

"If recycling isn’t viable in your area or you’re looking for another eco-friendly way to make a new home for your old carpet, try upcycling. The difference between recycling and upcycling is that in the recycling process, components of a product are broken down to be reused; this is considered downcycling. On the other hand, upcycling is a creative process in which waste is considered a valuable resource for innovation."Sandi Schwartz, environmental author and freelance journalist

Here are some of the ways you can reuse old carpeting in your home:

  • Use small pieces of the old carpet to create welcome mats, or if the carpet has a pattern, cut it into squares and sew them together in new ways to create a decorative area rug.
  • Use portions of the old carpet in the garage to make the area around a workbench more comfortable and to provide a mat you can use to wipe the bottoms of your shoes before you enter the main house.
  • You can also put sections of old carpeting under the car in the garage to absorb fluid drips from the engine that would otherwise stain the floor.
  • Reduce the noise coming from your washer or dryer by placing them on sections of carpet.
  • Cut off a portion of the carpet and place it in the trunk of your car to protect it from damage when you are transporting things.
  • Line the dog house with a section of the old carpet. Just make sure to clean it well first.
  • Use old carpeting to make cat scratching posts.

Method Six: Throw It Away Incrementally

If you are at your wits end trying to figure out how to dispose of your old carpeting and none of the above methods appeal to you, you can always cut the carpeting up into small pieces and toss a few into your trash cans to be picked up during regular trash collection. It will take a while to get rid of it all this way but it can be done. Just know that most or all of it will end up in a landfill.

For an overview of Colorado's regulations on the disposal of carpeting and other solid waste materials, download the following PDF

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For Expert Carpet Repair in Arvada or Boulder Contact Steve’s Carpet Care

As is the case with a lot of other things that make our modern life so comfortable, disposing of old carpeting in a responsible way can be challenging. Challenging, not impossible. Just make use of the suggestions we provided above and you’ll no doubt find one that works for you. And for expert carpet cleaning and carpet repair get in touch with Steve’s at 303-530-4900.

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