Proper Disposal

Estate and House Cleanout Projects, A How-To Guide

Cristie Snyder

Congratulations! You’ve acquired a home either through a purchase, as a gift, or as an inheritance. The previous owners may have left some items behind. Or, in the case of inheritance, someone left a house full of stuff for you to manage. What is the best way to tackle estate or house cleanout projects? Consider these steps.


What is left in the home? Is it clothing, furniture, tools, household goods, jewelry, appliances, yard equipment, electronics, medical equipment, unopened personal products, a boat, or twelve pairs of eyeglasses? Begin by assessing what types of items are usable and unusable. Decide what can be recycled or reused, and what items need proper disposal.


Did you find newspapers, magazines, books, or personal documents and files? Paper and boxes that are clean and dry can be placed in curbside recycling. Large quantities of paper and boxes can be recycled at a mixed paper recycling bin in your neighborhood. The bins are typically found in parking lots of schools, community centers, or places of worship. Boxes should be emptied and flattened before recycling. Save any boxes you may need to pack up items for donation.

Determine what needs to be shredded and locate an upcoming shredding event or shredding company near you.

Food and beverage cans, cartons, glass jars, and plastic bottles can be recycled, as long as the containers are empty, clean, and dry.

Computers and electronics, televisions, small appliances, and holiday lights can be recycled at local retail stores, recycling companies, or the Solid Waste District.

Collect scrap metals like old gardening equipment, nuts and bolts, metals around the house, or even an old car. A scrap dealer may pick up all the items if you have a large enough load, otherwise, you can drop off smaller items and get paid for the metal.


Many items can be donated to another person or organization that would benefit. Try searching your items on the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District’s website at, using the dark green “What Do I Do With?” search bar located at the top of every page. The search bar can help you find answers to your recycling, disposal, and reuse questions.

You can also request a copy of our booklet Pass It On: A Resource-Full Guide to Donating Usable Stuff.

Dispose of Properly

No matter how new or old the home is, there is always paint, pesticides, cleaners, automotive fluids, and other wastes that should not be thrown in the trash. Communities hold collection events for household hazardous wastes. Not sure when the next event will be held? Find details for your community.


Unfortunately, items are remaining that must be thrown away. Do you want to haul the excess trash to a local facility for disposal? Or do you need to rent a dumpster that can be filled on the property and hauled away? Find a list of waste disposal facilities and trash haulers on the District’s website. You should also check with your city service department to inquire about bulky waste pickup or disposal of excess trash.

If you are short on time, tackle recyclables first as they can be quickly sorted. Then drop off donatable stuff for reuse and items like household hazardous waste for proper disposal. If you have more time you may want to sell or donate items through social media sites. This will help lower your disposal costs for items that must be thrown away.

Estate or house cleanout projects can be overwhelming but are also manageable. By following the steps above, you should be able to take care of many of the items you inherited or acquired and possibly avoid using a dumpster entirely.