Got a bunch of boxes, a mattress, and a garbage bag full of stuff to get rid of? Don’t get too excited to throw them in the trash or kick them to the curb. New York City is strict and has plenty of regulations around junk removal. There are more regulations than you may expect when it comes to getting rid of junk in the “Big Apple.”

When you’re moving in New York City or simply doing a bit of spring (or summer) cleaning, properly disposing of your junk is a pretty important thing to do.  Read on for our top tips on disposing of your junk the legal way in NYC.


1. Make Sure Your Mattress is Properly Enclosed in a Bag

DSNY (AKA the City of New York Department of Sanitation) is pretty strict about how you throw away your mattress. You can leave your mattress on the curb to be collected, but you have to enclose it in a specific type of mattress bag. The deal? They want to make sure bedbugs don’t spread, which is why anything that is infected with bedbugs needs to have a sign indicating that this is the case.

Meanwhile, mattresses smaller than 4’x3′ can be left on the curb anytime. But larger mattresses need to outside no later than 4 pm after you make an appointment with DSNY to pick up. Just make sure you don’t place your mattress in a pedestrian walkway or place it too close to a building entrance.


2. Make Arrangements for “Bulk Items,” As Dictated by DSNY

New York City has specific restrictions on anything they consider to be a “bulk item”, which is defined as anything too big to fit in a garbage bin. Non-recyclable items that are larger than 4 by 3 feet need to be arranged to be picked up, while anything smaller (considered bulk metal and rigid plastic items) can be picked up by DSNY at regular collection times. Remember, you can’t bring these bulk items to waste disposal sites, and fines for disposing of mattresses incorrectly can result in a $100 fine.

There are even more guidelines for appliances. If you have air conditioners or refrigerators to get rid of or any other items that contain CFC or Freon, you’ll have to make a specific appointment to dispose of these appliances.


3. Be Careful What Construction or Home Repair Materials You Dispose Of

DSNY allows you to dispose of waste like old carpets and rugs, lumber, DIY construction materials, and windows, mirrors, cabinets, and doors. However, make sure your lumber, carpets, and rugs aren’t any larger than two-by-four.

But if you hire someone to help with home improvement and the construction company produces waste, then you’ll need to schedule an appointment to get rid of waste. This will include items such as rocks, bricks, or glass that don’t fit in bags. Luckily, if you have less than 6 bags of these items, you can simply leave them on the curb for pickup. If you need to make an appointment, you can do so here.


4. Check the List of More Obscure Materials Before Disposing of Them On the Curb

Have metal compressed gas tanks, toilets, or a water heater to ditch before you move? Fire extinguishers and helium tanks are okay for collection, but make sure they are empty before putting them on the street. The City of New York indicates that you should spray these fumes into a damp paper bag, but don’t try to empty compressed gas tanks that have propane, oxygen, and acetylene because these fumes can be combustible in the wrong place.

If you have a water heater that’s smaller than 50 gallons, feel free to kick them to the curb. And hay bales? Well, you’ll have to call the Department of Sanitation if you happen to have those lying around your New York City apartment.

It can be pretty challenging to get rid of junk in a major city like New York. Luckily, if you follow the guidelines, it’s not too difficult to get rid of your junk and have a cleaner home you’re happy with.