Proper Carpet Disposal: A Step-by-Step Guide


Is your carpet getting dingy and old? It is probably time to replace it. Installing new carpeting is a great way to spruce up a room. But you can't install new carpeting without removing the old one first.

But here's the thing. Removing an old carpet is the easy part. The disposing part is where things get tricky. To make things worse, you also have old gripping strips, padding, and other debris to get rid of. So, what do you do?

Don't worry. We've got you. We will share with you different ways you responsibly dispose of your carpet.

Six Carpet Disposal Tips

Like almost everything else, carpets aren't meant to last forever. But when it is time to replace yours, what do you do with the old one? After all, carpets aren't the easiest thing to dispose of in the world.

1. Check With Your Retailer

Many carpet retailers offer old carpet removal and disposal services. But services and costs may vary. For example, some only accept a new carpet's packaging and offcuts, while others will remove and dispose of it if you buy from them and have them install it for you. It is best to check with them about what kind of service they offer.

2. Get Your Carpet Installer to Remove It for You

If the store where you got your carpet from doesn't provide carpet removal and disposal services, check with your installer and see if they do. Most offer this service for a charge. They may charge per square meter or a one-time fee to remove all your carpet.

3. Bring It to Your Local Recycling Center

Carpets can take up a significant amount of space in landfills and take decades to decompose. But 89% of discarded carpet waste goes to landfills, 6% is incinerated, and only less than 5% is recycled.

Recycling diverts it from landfills and reduces the strain on the environment. Plus, most recycling services are free, so it is a more cost-effective alternative. Contact local recycling facilities or carpet manufacturers to see if they accept old carpets for recycling. Some may even pick it up for you. If not, you can drive it there yourself or hire someone else to do it for you.

Carpet fibers can be recycled into new carpeting, padding, building insulation, and plastic products. This reduces the need for new raw materials and energy to produce new products. While recycling is the most cost-effective and eco-friendly way of disposing of old carpets, many recycling centers don't accept them. So make it a point to check first before driving there.

4. Repurpose Your Old Carpet

Repurposing is finding new uses for existing products. It can involve modifying or adapting something for a different purpose than originally intended. Its goal is to extend a product's life, reduce waste, and create new value. So it isn't the same as recycling.

If your carpet is still presentable, you can do plenty of things with it. For example, you can dye it and use it to carpet small rooms for a fresher look.

Another idea is to turn it into an area rug, car mat, or doormat. Cut a small piece of the carpet and sew or glue trimmings on the edges. If you have a cat, you can also use pieces of it as a scratching post. These are just some ideas. There are still plenty of ways you can repurpose your old carpet.

5. Hire a Waste Collector

Carpets can be thrown away like regular household garbage. But most local garbage collectors don't accept them in bulk. There is usually a limit to how many rolls of carpet strips they get per collection day.

An alternative would be to take your carpet waste to the nearest garbage drop-off location. But make sure to confirm first that the facility accepts old carpets. If you don't have the time to go to the disposal location, you can hire a garbage removal service that collects waste from any location.

6. Do It Yourself

DIY carpet removal can save you money on labor and give you more control over the process. A square foot of carpet removal can cost $1.50 on average. Stairs, on the other hand, are typically priced at $2 to $3 per step. So, imagine how much you get to save if you do it yourself.

It can be physically demanding, especially if the carpet is glued down firmly. But it doesn't require any specialized skill to accomplish. Any homeowner with basic DIY skills can do this.

All you need is determination and the right tools and safety equipment to pull it off. This includes a utility knife, pry bar, staple remover, carpet puller, pliers, adhesive remover, hammer, and floor scraper. As for the safety gear, you will need knee pads, goggles, dust masks, and work gloves.

Step-by-Step DIY Carpet Removal Guide

DIY carpet removal may seem like a daunting task. But it is actually easier than you think. You can do this even with minimal preparation if you have the right tools and willingness to give up your weekend.

1. Wear Your Safety Gear

Safety comes first before anything else. Removing your carpet may look like a simple job. But you will be working with sharp tools. So, make sure to protect yourself before starting your DIY project.

Wear a long-sleeved shirt and pants while removing the carpet. Put on knee pads and safety gloves to protect yourself from cuts and scrapes. Even if you are working in a well-ventilated area, use a dust mask to avoid dust inhalation. Wear safety glasses for good measure in case there are flying tacks and nails.

2. Clear the Room

Before removing the carpet, make sure to clear all the furniture in the way. This includes the pieces in the hallway to clear a path to your dumpster. Vacuum the carpet one last time to remove as much dust as possible.

Cover any furniture that can't be removed, even anything from neighboring rooms. It is going to get dusty as you dislodge the carpet even after vacuuming. If the carpet covers the entire room, you will also need to remove the doors from the hinges, including closet doors. This will also make it easier to clean the room after the carpet has been removed.

3. Remove the Baseboards

You also need to remove the baseboards if they were installed after the carpet. Use a putty knife or pry bar to gently remove any nails or staples holding the baseboards in place. Be careful not to damage the drywall behind the baseboards as you remove them.

Once all nails are removed, gently pull the baseboards away from the wall. Avoid bending or twisting them during the process, as this can cause them to crack or break. You can reuse your baseboards if they are still in good condition after removal. So, make sure to label them with their corresponding location in the room to make reinstallation easier.

4. Start Removing the Carpet

Loosen one edge of the carpet with pliers. Give it a tug off the tack strip and keep pulling. You can also cut the carpet along the edges and work your way around the perimeter. This will give you a good handhold on the carpet as you pull it off.

When removing carpet from stairs, start at the top of the stairway and work your way down. Use a sharp utility knife to make clean cuts through the carpet and padding. Use a pair of pliers to pull the carpet up and away from the tack strip. Repeat the process for each step until the carpet is removed from the stairs. Finally, use a scraper or a putty knife to remove any remaining adhesive residue from the stairs.

If you have hardwood under the carpet, make sure to be extra careful when cutting and prying to prevent damaging the wood flooring. This is especially important if you don't plan to install a new carpet.

5. Cut and Roll as You Go

Use a utility knife to cut the carpet into smaller sections. Roll and wrap each strip of carpet with duct tape as you remove it for easy disposal.

Keep the sections manageable, about two or three feet in width. Carpets are quite heavy. So if the strips you cut are too large, you might end up injuring yourself as you carry them to the dumpster.

6. Remove the Carpet Padding

Padding removal follows the same process as carpet removal. Cut it into smaller strips and remove the staples attaching them to the floor. If the padding was glued down, use a scraping tool or putty knife to remove any remaining adhesive residue from the subfloor.

You can use boiling water or a commercial adhesive remover to loosen stubborn glue off the floor. You don't have to remove all the glue, just make sure that the floor is flat to avoid bumps when new carpeting is installed.

7. Remove the Tack Strips and Remaining Staples

Yanking out the carpet padding will reveal the subfloor, with all the tack strips, nails, and staples scattered around. Check the tack strips to see if you can still salvage them. If they are still in good shape and you plan to reinstall new carpeting, just leave them there. But if they are not reusable anymore, it is time to remove them.

Insert the flat end of the pry bar under the tack strip and lift up to remove any nails or tacks. Once the tack strip is loose, use a claw hammer or tack puller to pry the tacks or nails from the strip. Be sure to wear thick gloves and eye protection for safety.

You should also make sure to remove all the carpet staples. It will be a challenge to locate all of them, but you must do this step. If you don't, your new carpeting will have bumps when installed. Running over the floor with a long-handheld floor scraper or a magnetic sweeper can help you detect staples you may have missed.

8. Clean the Area

Use a vacuum cleaner or a broom and dustpan to remove dust and debris. Make sure you are wearing your dust mask while cleaning. Use a mop or a wet rag to remove any remaining debris from the subfloor. Allow the subfloor to dry completely before installing new flooring or continuing with any other renovations.

9. Dispose of the Carpet

Put the rolled strips of carpet and the other debris into your dumpster. You can rent one if need be. This is the most convenient disposal method as you can just dump the waste as you work. If you have a platform trolley, that will make the disposal from your house to the dumpster even faster and easier.

But take note: although many local garbage collection agencies accept old carpets, they may not do so in large quantities. Plus, landfills are not the best option for carpet disposal. Carpets are made up of complex fibers that are almost impossible to break down in landfills.

They also release methane and other toxic chemicals as they decompose. A study by American Recycler revealed that most carpets contain over 44 toxic chemicals. Recycling or repurposing them is the more environmentally friendly option.

10. Inspect the Subfloor

Removing carpet often reveals damage to the subfloor that may have occurred over time, such as holes, cracks, or water damage. So, it is important to do a thorough inspection after carpet removal, especially if you have had any leaks in your home.

If there are signs of mold or mildew, you need to treat the area immediately with a cleaner. If there is extensive damage, a professional can help you restore your subfloor. You must address all issues before installing a new carpet to avoid more problems down the road.


A DIY carpet installation can be a great way to save money and give your home a fresh new look. It can also be a rewarding experience to tackle the project on your own and see the results of your hard work. With the right tools, resources, and knowledge, any homeowner can do this on their own.

But you also have to be responsible for your waste. So you must research and follow the guidelines for safe and environmentally friendly disposal methods.

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