white goods recyclingRecycling items like cardboard boxes, junk mail and glass bottles is pretty straightforward. Even recycling batteries, cell phones and computers is getting easier and easier for the average consumer. But, when it comes to larger appliances such as refrigerators, dishwashers, washers, dryers and stoves, many of us are left scratching our heads. These major appliances are known as “white goods.” White goods can be taken in for recycling at certain locations, but are there other ways to put these items to use?

Donate them

Many charitable organizations will find white goods useful. Some corporations already have programs in place for donation. The Salvation Army lists a donation guide that tells you how much tax deduction is in place for washing machines, electric stoves, air conditioning units and other white goods. For instance, those who donate working refrigerators will receive a donation receipt for between $75 and $250, depending on the quality of the donated item. If you want to donate working white goods to local schools, shelters, churches or charities, contact them directly to see if they accept large appliances for donation.

Planting and gardening

An old refrigerator without doors can be a cool spot to plant a flowerbed. Or, more savvy gardeners may be in the market for a root cellar. After digging a large hole and laying the gutted refrigerator in sideways, you can plant vegetables inside the refrigerator. The homemade root cellar can protect plants from frost during the cooler months.


If you live on a farm (or know someone who does), storing grain, hay or horse feed in an old refrigerator keeps it safe from insects and rodents.


Old white goods make for convenient storage. If you don’t have much closet space, storing your off-season clothes in an old refrigerator makes sense. Dishwashers and refrigerators also make great tool sheds for crafty people with lots of gadgets. You could also store canned goods in old white goods as a pantry, or use an old refrigerator to store books, board games and movies.

Compost bin

A used clothes dryer, washing machine or dishwasher can become a makeshift compost bin. Since the old appliance will keep the compost warm, it can help it break down faster.


Beer enthusiasts will enjoy converting an old refrigerator or freezer into a kegerator. With a conversion kit and some elbow grease, the transformation is simple and fun. Also, how much cooler would your parties be if you had a homemade kegerator?


Artist Camilo Ontiveros asked for old washing machines in his 2009 installation “I Want Your Washing Machine.” He placed ads for washing machines for $15, and he then transformed the machines into art. The installation was shown at Steve Turner Contemporary in Los Angeles. If you know any installation artists, you might ask them if they need your old white goods. Tell your local art school you have old white goods or post them on Craigslist. You never know where your old dishwasher or washing machine will end up. Do any of you have interesting alternative uses for white goods? We’d love to hear what you’ve done to repurpose old refrigerators, washing machines, stoves and dishwashers!