We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
Replacing your toilet? Sick of that smelly couch? Want to toss some musty carpeting?
No need to find a friend with a pickup in this town, because the Department of Public Works’ll haul that household bulk trash away for you with no hassle whatsoever. Just call 311, then give your address and a list of items that you need to unload.
But watch out: Those DPW bulk trashers can be a touch picky about things. Last week, for instance, I skedded a pickup and told the 311 call taker that I was throwing out a toilet, a vanity, plus three or four bundles of wood. The call taker said 10-4 and locked me into a Sept. 23 pickup date. He said to have the stuff by the curb on the night of the 22nd.
As if he even needed to say that. Prepping for a bulk-trash pickup is always one of the more momentous events in my life, something to celebrate and get all pumped about. I mean, just think about the service that’s being offered here. All you have to do is carry big items out the door at an appointed time, and people come to take them away for free, plus taxes.
Days before the pickup, I was planning things out—-a process that involved collecting all the materials needed to bundle the wood, inching that toilet and the vanity toward the door, and just getting mentally prepared for the pickup.
Early on the morning before the pickup day, I had finished putting the whole package together. The vanity, toilet, and bundles were sitting in my front patio area, waiting for evening to come, when it’s OK to place them on the sidewalk in anticipation of the pickup. At around 9 pm, after most of the pedestrian traffic had slowed down, I put everything out.
The bulk-trash truck came early the next morning, while I was in the kitchen having breakfast. Barely heard the activity. When I realized that the action had already gone down, I rushed to the front door to see how things had gone.
They’d left one of my bundles. Shit.
On my way to work, I spotted a bulk-trash team doing its rounds. I asked the fellows what the deal was with my left-behind bundle. They asked what was in there. I said some wood and some leftover backerboard from a bathroom renovation. Uh-oh—-that qualifies the bundle as construction debris. One of the fellows said that the contractor has to haul that stuff away.
OK, but what if there’s no contractor? What if it’s a DIY sorta thing?
Again, no construction debris.
Here’s your handy bulk-trash acceptability list:
Acceptable Bulk Items
* Air conditioners (drain water and fluids)
* Hot water heaters
* Household furniture
* Large toys (kiddie pools, playhouses, disassembled swing sets)
* Major appliances, e.g., refrigerators (doors removed)
* Mattresses and bed frames
* Rugs (MUST be rolled and tied)
Unacceptable Bulk Items
* Ceiling tile
* Construction Materials
* Demolition materials
* Hazardous and/or liquid waste
* Household trash or garbage
* Small tree limbs (should be tied and placed with regular trash)
* Tree stumps