Waste & Recycling Workers Week
Arwood Site Services - Residential and Commercial Services You Can Count On
Waste Industry Job Listings
Waste Industry Equipment for Sale
Recycle Guide - A Resource for Responsible Disposal and Recycling
Let's Take Out the Trash

Tips and FAQ

Table of Contents

General Tips
Dumpster Diving Etiquette
Why Would You Want to Dumpster Dive?
What do I need to Dumpster Dive?
Where Should I Dumpster Dive?
Is Dumpster Diving Safe?
Can I make money as a dumpster diver?
Is Dumpster Diving Legal?


General Tips

General tips for increasing your success rate and staying safe while dumpster diving:

First and fore most you should always do your research: dumpster diving can be very dangerous.

If you choose to dumpster dive, please use sound judgment and common sense, especially for the safety of yourself and others.

Never ever try getting into a compactor! This is very important and cannot be stressed enough.

If you are under 18, ask your parent(s) or legal guardian for permission; or request they accompany you when you go Dumpster Diving.

You and, only you, are responsible for any injuries or illnesses resulting from unsafe dumpster diving activities so be safe and be careful.

Edible products found while dumpster diving should be thoroughly checked for freshness and defects in packaging, including the expiration date.

Contamination must always be considered and it would be ethically wrong to offer products to anyone without first telling them of the origin. Children should never be exposed to food products recovered while dumpster diving.

It’s always best to avoid being seen by others; the simple fact that you are looking in a dumpster is enough to make most people suspicious. On the same note, avoid making excess noise as it can wake neighbors up or attract store employees and make them call the police.

It’s a good idea to avoid washing and drying your dumpster clothes with your family’s clothing. Wash and dry your clothes separately.

Call your local dumpster company and find out when each street in your city gets its trash picked up so you can plan accordingly.

Many a good item can be found on the curb side near the end of the year. It is a great time to do this as many residents will be getting nice new items for Christmas and tossing out the old items. Another good time of the year is Spring, as many residents will be doing spring cleaning.

DumpsterDive360.com, the owner of this site, the administration, or the members are not responsible or liable for any injuries or illnesses resulting from dumpster diving.


Dumpster Diving Etiquette

Don’t leave a mess. Leave the dumpster in no worse condition than you found it in fact try to leave it in even better condition than you found it, always be respectful of the stores you dive from.

Avoid ripping trash bags – try to untie them if possible, and then tie them back.

Take only what you can use, and leave the rest for someone else.

Even though some dumpster divers chose to break into locked dumpsters by force, it is recommended to look for dumpsters which are not locked.

If there are other dumpster divers around (often happens at some food markets) don’t take more than you are possibly going to use and if you already have too much of something offer it to other people.

Leave a trace if you found a whole pile of something hidden away so that others can find the stuff you’re not going to take.

Appreciate the fact that you get stuff or food for free, and don’t make life harder for other dumpster divers, especially when you know you won’t come to this spot again. We are all a part of the same community so let’s help each other!


Why Would You Want to Dumpster Dive?

People dumpster dive for all kinds of reasons:
Some for the thrill and adventure of never knowing what they will find.

Some to help save money on items they would normally buy.

Some dumpster divers dive to sell items for profit.

Some dumpster divers do it as a hobby.

Some as a way of going green by reducing waste and reusing items that would have otherwise been thrown out.

Whatever the reason may be many people dumpster dive and find enjoyment out of it and you can too!


What do I need to Dumpster Dive?

Disposable flashlight or a headlamp.

Car or something to store and transport the things you find.

Gloves to protect your hands while you are diving.

Lysol wipes/baby wipes to keep clean hands or to wipe found items down.

Old Clothes. Dark clothes are preferred, usually with non-distinct markings. Anything you can get dirty.

Jeans are recommended to keep your legs from getting scraped.

Thick soled shoes that cover your whole foot to ensure you are protected and if do happen to step on something sharp it won’t pierce through your shoe.

A good first aid kit with band aids and a small bottle of alcohol.

Although not necessary, it is good to have a few tools of the trade:

A good stepladder is helpful for getting in dumpsters.

A milk crate that can be used as a stool for standing on while leaning into a dumpster.

An unger a very helpful tool used to grab things. This tool might be better known as a Gopher Grabber or Nifty Nabber.


Where Should I Dumpster Dive?

As a new diver, start by mapping out a good route along with places that sell or make the type of items you would like to find, with the internet and “Google Maps” this is a very easy task.

For example, if you were looking for car speakers, you would want to look in dumpsters behind businesses that sell car stereos. You would not go to a dumpster where the user of that dumpster sold sewing supplies.

In that same vain if you are looking for food you should start with Grocery stores. A good idea is to go to larger supermarkets and other stores right around closing time. This will help you find perishable food right when it is disposed of, so it will still be fresh.

Use “Google Earth” to get a bird’s eye view of the places you are looking to dive. This can give you an idea of where the dumpster is located and whether or not it is a compactor.


Is Dumpster Diving Safe?

Dumpster diving is perfectly safe as long as you take the right precautions and are aware of your surroundings. Your safety is the most important thing, put your safety above everything else and be careful.

Some of the things to look out for are:

Sharp objects, broken glass, etc. Always think and look before dumpster diving make sure there are no sharp objects that can poke, cut, or stab you.

Dumpsters that contain Medical or Hazardous waste. Avoid these at all costs do not attempt to dive in them even the smallest contact with either of these types of waste can have a serious effect on your health.

Lids can suddenly slam shut when windy. Pry the dumpster open with something to make sure it doesn’t shut on you suddenly or just be aware that the dumpster can shut at any time.


Can I make money as a dumpster diver?

Just like anything in life it all depends on how much time and work you are willing to put into it. The money made from dumpster diving will differ from dumpster diver to dumpster diver all depending on how hard you work at it. The more often you dive the better the chances of finding items to sell or use.

Aluminum cans, copper, iron and other metals can be sold at recycling centers. Prices go up and down all the time so try and hold on to your pile of scrap metal until a good price is being paid. Many items such as fans, and hair dryers and TVs have copper inside the motors and power cords.

Many of the items found can be sold on E-bay, garage/yard sales or flea markets.

Keep in mind just because an item is broken or does not work, it may still be worth some cash as many people are willing to pay top dollar for an item they need a part from.


Is Dumpster Diving Legal?

This is a question that each dumpster diver should research and answer for themselves. The answer varies depending on your local laws.

As a general rule of thumb if any of the following apply then you should stop dumpster diving (at least in that specific area or city):

The site your dumpster is at is clearly posted no trespassing.

You were previously caught by security or the police and told not to do it anymore in that area or city.

The police wrote a field information report and noted in it you were told not to trespass and you signed a no trespass order.

The materials appearing on this website are provided for informational use only and are in no way intended to constitute legal advice.

Post Your Dumpster Finds

  • Accepted file types: jpg, jpeg, png, gif.