Prohibited Items: What Not to Toss in a Dumpster
While our dumpsters accept most everyday waste, it's important to learn what items are prohibited in order to avoid additional fees from the landfill.
Keep in mind that prohibited items may vary depending on your location and container type. There are different restrictions for roll off dumpsters than commercial containers, which are designed for regular trash collection at a business. Reach out to learn more about what items are prohibited in your area.
For questions about a specific item, call our team at 877-814-9748.
What Is Not Allowed in a Roll Off Dumpster?
While you can toss most household junk and construction debris in a roll off dumpster rental, a few restrictions apply. Usually, this is because some items must be handled separately from other debris for environmental or safety reasons. The list below shows items typically not allowed in a dumpster and explains why they’re prohibited.
Adhesives, like glue or epoxy, should be disposed of with regular household trash instead of a roll off dumpster. Loose adhesives can damage the container, and they may cause debris to stick together or to the container walls, making them hard to remove.
Car batteries, as well as lithium batteries, cannot go in a dumpster because they can leak harmful chemicals. Take old car batteries to a local recycler or auto shop. Lithium batteries, like those found in laptops, can be recycled at most electronics retailers. Alkaline batteries (AA, AAA, D, etc.) can go in a dumpster.
Fluorescent lightbulbs contain small amounts of mercury, so they can't go in a dumpster. Many landfills prohibit the disposal of these items, while other areas require them to be recycled properly. Recycling is required in California, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington.
Food waste is often prohibited from roll off dumpsters since it can attract rodents or make a mess in the container. If you have to dispose of large amounts of food waste, consider using municipal trash services or sending the waste to a local composting center.
Refrigerators, freezers and AC units cannot be disposed of in the dumpster unless the Freon is removed by a professional. Freon-containing appliances can usually be picked up by local sanitation departments as part of their bulk debris pickup schedule. Or, some retailers will take your old appliances when you purchase a replacement.
Hot water tanks are not accepted in any dumpster because they can contain harmful gases inside of them that have a high risk of exploding. Other hot water heater disposal options include selling, scrapping or donating.
Chemical cleaners or solvents should not be tossed in a dumpster. However, you may throw empty containers in your dumpster as long as they are rinsed out and do not contain any residual chemicals.
Inks and resins used in pens and printers can damage equipment and stain the interior of dumpsters. These are best disposed of through recycling centers or retailers with drop-off services.
Propane tanks, fuels, oils and other flammable materials are serious safety hazards when tossed in a dumpster. These substances are highly combustible, and it is illegal to dispose of them improperly in most areas.
Tip: Contact a propane company, your local fire department or hazardous material collection center to learn how to dispose of these items safely.
Full or partially full cans of wet paint generally cannot go in a dumpster, including paint thinners, lacquers or wood stains. However, in most municipalities, you can dispose of dry latex paint as long as you wrap the sealed can in a plastic bag. You might also consider finding a paint recycling program near you. Empty paint cans are accepted in our containers.
Tip: Mix wet paint with kitty litter to help it harden.
Lumber materials like railroad ties and telephone poles are treated with harmful wood preservatives and aren’t allowed in our dumpsters. However, some landfills will accept intact railroad ties.
Tip: To reuse railroad ties, try contacting organizations like Habitat for Humanity or even local businesses looking for landscaping supplies or parking lot bumpers.
Most landfills don't accept tires because they can trap gases and take a long time to decompose. Instead of tossing tires in a dumpster, contact your local municipality, an auto parts store or tire dealership.
Tip: Try finding a local recycler that can use your old tires to make asphalt and other industrial applications.
Flammable or ignitable wastes start fires easily or can quickly intensify an existing fire, so they must be thrown away properly.
Examples: Kerosene, matches and flares, rubbing alcohol, diesel fuel, cleaning solvents, nail polish remover, motor oil
Corrosive wastes are very acidic or basic materials that can cause severe harm to human skin and even erode metal containers, like dumpsters and trash cans. This makes them not only a serious risk to waste workers, but also harmful to the environment, because they can contaminate groundwater and hurt marine life if thrown out improperly.
Examples: Rust remover, oven cleaner, chlorine bleach, automotive lead-acid batteries
Reactive wastes are unstable in normal environments and may explode under regular pressure, in normal temperatures or when exposed to water. The heat of a landfill or garbage truck compressor may increase the likelihood of these compressed gases exploding or releasing toxic fumes, which can seriously burn your eyes, nose, throat and more.
Examples: Propane tanks, oxygen tanks, partially filled aerosol cans, ammunition, fertilizer
Toxic materials can be dangerous or lethal if ingested or exposed to the skin. Some toxic wastes may cause severe eye or skin irritation, respiratory troubles, and even contamination of local ecosystems or watersheds if they are not handled correctly.
Examples: Medications, antifreeze, pesticides, fluorescent lightbulbs
Biohazardous waste consists of potentially infectious materials or substances, such as blood. Of special concern are sharp wastes such as needles, blades, glass pipettes, and other wastes that can cause injury during handling.
Examples: Blood, needles/sharps, bodily fluids, animal waste, animal body parts
Items You Can’t Put in a Commercial Dumpster
While a commercial dumpster can handle most business waste, some restrictions do apply. Hazardous items aren’t allowed in dumpsters for safety reasons. Plus, certain bulky items are too big for regular garbage truck collection or need to be transported to a different landfill. This table shows the debris types that typically can’t go in a commercial dumpster and alternative ways to get rid of them.
Fuels, Oils & Batteries
Contact a hazardous waste disposal service.
Industrial Drums & Liquid Chemicals
Contact a drum disposal or chemical collection service.
Contact a medical waste collection service.
Find a local tire recycler or auto shop.
Rent a temporary roll off dumpster.
Construction, Remodeling & Roofing Materials
Rent a construction dumpster.
Concrete, Brick, Dirt & Asphalt
Rent a demolition dumpster.
FAQs About Prohibited Items
What things can you not put in a dumpster?
Prohibited items vary depending on your location and the type of dumpster. However, there are items restricted for both roll off and commercial dumpsters including:
- wet paint
- chemical cleaners
Any flammable, toxic and hazardous waste are also never accepted in dumpsters due to environmental regulations. Check out our sections on roll off and commercial dumpster prohibited items to see a full list of items you can't toss in our bins.
How do I know what isn’t allowed in my container?
When you call to rent a dumpster, our team will review all of the items that are not accepted in your area. This list will also be included with your invoice sent via email. If you have questions as you load your dumpster, you can contact us via call, text or email.
What happens if I toss a prohibited item?
We may not be able to pick up the dumpster until the prohibited item is removed, which will result in a failed trip fee. Or, if we do pick up the dumpster without knowing about the item, the landfill may charge a disposal fee when your load is dumped and sorted. In this case, you will receive a separate invoice for the charge.
Are there restricted items specific to my city or state?
Your local landfill may have restrictions depending on state or city disposal laws. We will review this information with you when you order so you know what to expect. If you have questions about a particular item during your agreement, just reach out to our team.
Can I toss hazardous waste in a dumpster?
Hazardous wastes, including chlorine bleach, rust remover, rubbing alcohol, propane tanks, antifreeze and biohazardous items, are never accepted in dumpsters or landfills due to environmental regulations. Check out our section on hazardous waste to see a more in-depth list.