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7 Dec 2021

7 ways to get rid of your old sofa

Need to buy a new sofa but can't face the effort of getting rid of your old one? Find out how to dispose of your old couch, including who can help with the heavy lifting
two people carrying a sofa

If your sofa is looking old and saggy, it may be time to replace it. But how do you get rid of your existing sofa?

Leaving your old sofa on your doorstep with a 'take me' sign may seem appealing, but the truth is that too many sofas end up in landfill.

According to mattress recycling specialist TFR Group, the space taken up by sofas in landfill amounts to filling Wembley Stadium four times over. And only 17% of sofas are reused, says the Royal Society of Arts, Manufacture and Commerce (RSA) Action and Research Centre.

The good news is, there are many ways you can dispose of your old couch, including helping out others in need.

Want to buy a new sofa but not sure where to begin? Head over to our sofa buying guide.

1. Donating your sofa to charity

Consider the condition of your sofa before doing this and only donate it if it's in a genuinely resalable condition. Don't do this if it's falling apart.

Many charities are part of the Reuse Network. Charities in this network give items a second life, reducing waste and helping those in poverty. Some charities, such as the British Heart Foundation, will even come and collect your sofa for free, but its condition will be inspected. If it doesn't meet the criteria, the charity, understandably, may not accept it.

Your sofa will also need to have its fire label still attached. Without this, a charity won't be able to sell it. This is critical as, even if the sofa is in perfect condition, it will likely end up in landfill.

Find out more about the Reuse Network. Or, if you live near a charity shop that sells furniture, you could try contacting them directly to find out if they're interested.

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2. Asking the council to take your sofa away

Another option, if you live in England or Wales, is seeing if your local council will take it away. Often known as 'bulky waste collection', many councils across the country have collection services which you can book online.

Services vary between councils, with some charging a small fee for the collection. All you'll generally need to do is leave your sofa outside your door the night before collection.

3. Take your sofa to a recycling centre at a tip

Recycling centre

Check if you'll need to book a visit: you may not be able to just rock up, especially if you're using a van. Some will also need proof of residency (such as a utility bill).

4. Taking your sofa apart

If your old sofa isn't good for anything except taking to the tip, you may need to dismantle it to be able to get it out of your front door and into your car, if you have one. This will be hard work, although it can also be quite satisfying.

Be aware that you'll generate a fair degree of mess. Wear thick gloves and goggles if you have some.

The exact steps will depend on the design of your sofa, including whether it's a sofa bed and whether it has legs.

In general, however, you should start by stripping off all the fabric so that you can see what's underneath. You shouldn't just get stuck in with a saw in case you hit a spring. The fabric will likely be fastened by staples, but you can just rip it off if you're not intending to preserve the fabric.

Use a handsaw rather than a power saw to chop it up.

We don't recommend burning the wooden frame, as, depending how the wood has been treated, it could emit toxic fumes.

5. Will your new sofa company take your old one away?

If you're buying a new sofa to replace your old one, check if the retailer has a collection scheme. Many sofa retailers nowadays will collect your old sofa when delivering your new one. Some, like John Lewis and DFS, will charge you a fee for this service, but it means your old sofa won't end up in a landfill.

Some retailers, such as Sofology, work with Clearabee, a clearance company that will recycle your sofa.

You can also use Clearabee privately. While this service can be one of the priciest options (there is a charge per item and a £59.99 call out charge), collection timings are shorter than other options and they will collect the sofa from inside your home. The sofa should then be taken to local Waste Transfer Stations and, in major cities, Clearbee claims 100% of sofas collected are saved from landfill.

Find out which are the best sofa shops as rated by Which? members.

6. Giving your sofa away for free online

There are plenty of websites where people will pick up items from your home if you give them away for free. All you need to do is write a good description, upload plenty of pictures and wait for someone to get in touch. Some websites will match you with someone whereas with others, such as Trash Nothing, you get to choose who you will gift your sofa to. Website options include:

  • Facebook marketplace
  • Freecycle
  • Freegle
  • Olio
  • Trash Nothing
  • Upcycle

7. Selling a second-hand sofa

If your sofa is in a reasonable condition, you could sell it.

Taking it to a car boot sale could work if you have a smaller couch that will fit in your vehicle. If that's not an option, these are some of the most popular websites for selling preloved items.

  • E-Bay
  • Gumtree
  • Preloved
  • Shpock
  • Wallapop

Popular ways to get rid of a sofa

In May 2021, we asked 2,932 members of the Which? Connect panel how they had disposed of their last sofa. One in five respondents donated their old couch to a charity shop. Nearly the same number gave it to a family member or friend.

I gave it to charity shop20%
I gave it to a friend/ family member18%
Took it to the tip10%
I left it on the street for council collection8%
I sold it online7%

Still need to buy a new sofa? Follow our tips for choosing the best sofa.