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How To Easily Get Rid of Old TV Sets

How to get rid of old TV sets

While we have been pretty lucky with stuff left behind by our tenants, we recently inherited an old boat anchor of a TV. It still works, but isn’t really useful for the digital age. We did our tried and true technique of leaving it by the curb, which has helped us shed many an unwanted item in the past, but after a month, no takers. After lots of research and a few disappointments, here’s what we’ve learned about how to get rid of old TV sets.

Why Can’t I Throw It Away?

If you throw away any type of electronics, there is a risk that some of the chemicals used in its components could leak into the ground water supply. Electronics are full of toxic stuff like lead, cadmium, mercury, and arsenic. Yikes! I wouldn’t even want to poison the rats at the dump with that yuckiness. It is also against the law in many states to throw electronics in the trash. Even if you don’t get caught, it’s still wrong, so suck it up and get rid of your junk responsibly.

Give It Away

If the TV works, you can try to mark it free on Craig’s List or in a yard sale, or just put it out on the curb. I’m afraid there are very few people who want an analog TV these days, but it might be worth a try. Some people can’t resist something for free, even if it is obsolete.

Donate It

In the past, we’ve been able to donate old TV’s to Jim’s school. Even if it’s not digital ready, sometimes schools still use DVD’s and even VCR’s to show videos to students and staff. I’m not sure what it says that schools are so behind on technology, but I guess if you’re in kindergarten, you don’t really care much about HD.

Other places that might take old TV’s are homeless shelters, day care centers (especially ones that operate on state funding that might not have much of an electronics budget), or after school programs. Think anywhere that has low funding and doesn’t need high technology. We did not have any luck with these options, but you never know.

Wait For A City E-cycling Event

I thought our dilemma was solved when our city offered an e-cycling event last weekend. Generally, municipalities offer electronics recycling days to coincide with spring cleaning, so be on the lookout. They were charging $20 for TV’s, but at this point, we just need to get rid of it. Sadly, the truck for TV’s was full by mid-day, and they would not take ours. Must be lots of people trying to get rid of old TV’s! At least they did take an old computer and a few other electronic gadgets that have been in our closet for a while.

How to Easily Get Rid of Old TV Sets


Look For A Recycling Center That Takes E-Waste

There are lots of places that take computers, cell phones, and newer TV’s, but it’s much harder to find a place that takes old tube models like the one we’re trying to dispose of. You can search for centers online, but unfortunately, the closest place to us was four hours a way. Another strike out.

I also learned that many so called recycling centers simply export and dump old electronics in developing nations. To be sure, recycling centers that are certified as E-stewards have been certified to recycle electronic waste responsibly. If your center isn’t on the list, that does’t necessarily mean they are dumping stuff on Sri Lanka. It just means they haven’t completed the certification process. I guess the best thing to do is ask and hope you get the truth.

Give It Back To The Manufacturer

Several manufacturers will take back their electronics for recycling and disposal, free of charge. Some companies, like Apple, will give you a gift card for the item’s value. Here is a list of companies that take back their electronics after you’ve used them up.

Best Buy or Staples

Best Buy and Staples both take many types of old electronics. Staples does not take TV’s or stereos, but you can drop off up to six other types of electronics per day at no charge. Best Buy takes a variety of electronics for free as well, including any TV’s less than 32 inches, up to three items per day. Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

There is a Best Buy an hour from us, so the next time we head to that area, we’ll be dragging the boat anchor with us. If you have a TV bigger than 32 inches, Best Buy does offer pick up and disposal service for free if you buy a replacement model. Otherwise, there is a charge to haul it away.

I had no idea it was so hard to get rid of a TV. I can sort of understand why peoples’ basements and storage closets turn into a hoarder’s episode over time!

Have you had to dispose of an old TV? Where did you have luck getting rid of old electronics?

About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.


  1. That’s crazy people leave behind stuff like that! What’s even crazier is some of the stuff that’s in electronics. We usually just take our stuff to Best Buy or try to give it away through CL. We’ve had a few times where we’ve been able to make a little money by selling the item. I don’t know why someone would want something outdated, let alone pay for it, but I’m happy to sell it. 🙂

  2. I gave away a big tube TV on craigslist and could hardly find someone to take it! Eventually, someone did come and get it for their kid’s room. It worked fine!

  3. If I can’t sell it or give it away, then I always go to Best Buy, which is just down the street. It’s been incredibly handy doing this because I used to have TONS of random cords sitting around.

    • We had a huge pile of various cords, old baby monitors, a iPod dock that bit the dust a long time ago. It’s amazing how much junk I can find if I look, even when I feel like we don’t buy that much stuff.

  4. We had a big box TV in our basement the past 2 years that we were just waiting to get rid of. We could donate it to a nonprofit we know of, but they charge $25 to come take it (because let’s be honest, they don’t NEED the TVs but don’t mind taking them). A city-wide cleanup day happened recently in our city and they took box TVs for only $5. We were so happy to get rid of ours!

  5. Wait, you left it sitting outside for a whole month? I’m sure the neighbors loved that.

    In any case, we’ve donated all of our old tube TVs to the Salvation Army, who resell them and use the money to help the needy.

    • It was in the alley by the dumpster so not right in the front yard, LOL. There seem to be a fair amount of people who drive around before trash day to pick up hidden gems, but unfortunately no takers. None of the thrift stores take old TV’s here anymore, probably because you can’t get rid of them if they don’t sell!

  6. We gave our two old tv sets to our technician. It was only junked on our storage room for how many years.

  7. I had no idea that you can’t throw away many old electronics. I’ve got a lot of old monitors and computers that are no use to me. I was going to haul it to the trash. I think I’ll have to go to best buy instead to have them recycle it.

  8. My Dad has quite a few old tv sets that he needs to get rid of and these are great tips for doing so. My Dad and I both do not like causing waste for obvious reasons so we will have to look into craigslist or donations as options. Thank you for these great tips!

    • Best Buy actually had a guy who came out in the parking lot with a cart so we didn’t even have to carry the thing in!

  9. I think that your advice to donate the television is a good one. If it is still working, there is no reason to throw it away. On the contrary, there is actually plenty of reason to keep the TV. Surely, there is someone else out there that would want it. If it works, that may be all that really matters.

  10. thanks for the info!!! I appreciate the links too. I have our 1st TV – from 1984 – upright console, that I just need to get rid of.

  11. I work for a school district and in March of 2016 we will be removing approximately 3,000 analog TVs (General Electric, 32”) from our campuses. Anybody have any advice?

    • I would check with your local recycling center to see if they accept large shipments of electronics. That’s a but too much for Best Buy!

  12. Best Buy is now charging $25 per TV or CRT monitor if you want to recycle them there. That’s right, you pay them to take your stuff off your hands. Just found this out today.

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