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Cleaning out a home is tough work, whether it's for a move or cleaning out a home following the passing of a loved one.

The stuff we fill our homes with is complicated, and it can be stressful trying to figure out the rules where it all can go for safe disposal

Below is a guide that should help navigate some of the common questions.

donate first

Madison is lucky to have many organizations that accept clothing, furniture, food, and even construction material & tools. Some even offer free home pickup. Better to have these usable items finding a second life than trashed.

Check the ReUse It page for options.


get the Collection Schedule

This way you know when to set out the recycling and the trash.


what can go into the recycling carts?

Recycling rules vary across the country. Learn Madison's rules so the correct items are placed into the cart.


large item & appliance disposal and recycling

Madison provides collection of large, bulky items (like furniture and appliances).

You need to submit a work order to schedule curbside collection.

Certain large items and appliances require recycling fees.

You'll need to use the work order system to pay the fee if you are bringing them to a drop-off site as well.


More trash than fits into the cart

If you follow the rules, and only if you follow the rules, the Streets Division will collect a certain amount of bagged trash outside of the collection carts.


More recycling than fits into the cart

Extra recycling will be collected at the curb, too, if you follow the rules.

Using the drop-off sites (see below) is also a great option for this kind of excess.

There are special rules in order to have excess cardboard picked up from the curb, too.


streets division drop-off sites

Drop-off sites accept everything that can be collected at the curb, plus a few extras like electronics & televisions.

In order to use the sites, you need to provide proof of City of Madison residency. Most people show their driver's license, but showing a utility bill, tax bill, or another official document works as well. 

Check our drop-off site page for hours, locations, and restrictions.

We receive frequent questions from people who live outside of Madison who need to come back to help clean out the home of their elderly parent. In this instance, providing some proof of the parents' residency would be sufficient to use the drop-off site - just explain the situation to the yard attendant. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.


chemicals and paint

Take these items to Dane County Clean Sweep.


medication & sharps

Medicine should go to one of the many Safer Community MedDrop locations around Madison.

Medical sharps like syringes, lancets, EpiPens, and so on have can go to many pharmacies around Madison. But it's important to check with the pharmacist where you would like to take the sharps for any special packaging instructions (be sure you are speaking with the actual pharmacist who is familiar with the sharps program.)


renting a dumpster or a pod

Sometimes when cleaning out a house, it's just easier to rent a dumpster or a moving a pod.  This is especially true if the clean up is very extensive and will produce a substantial amount of material for collection.

In order to park a dumpster or a pod on the public street for a period of time, you will need to obtain a Street Occupancy Permit. 

The Streets Division does not issue these permits - they come from other agencies. 

However, you can follow the steps below to get the process started:

Begin your permit in Accela Citizen Access or visit the following pages for additional information:


still need help?

Give us a call or send an email.

It can be stressful trying to clean out a home, and the stuff in our lives can be very complicated. We're here to help.