How to Recycle Your Old Residential Carpet

Most carpets consist of non-biogredable fibers such as nylon, polyester, and polypropylene. If you don’t recycle your carpet it will remain in the landfill for decades. 

What Is Carpet Recycling?

What Is Carpet Recycling?

Carpet recycling is turning old carpets into new, repurposed products. Carpet recyclers break down the carpet into single fibers. Other industries use them as raw materials. Industries that use post-consumer carpet materials include automotive, construction, and flooring.

Common Products Made From Recycled Carpet

  • Carpet tiles
  • Outdoor mats and rugs
  • Insulation
  • Landscaping mulch
  • Carpet padding
  • Soundproofing material
  • Industrial cleaning pads
  • Geotextiles
  • Plastic pellets
  • Clothing and accessories

What Materials Are Carpets and Rugs Made Of?

Carpets and rugs are made of natural and synthetic materials. The majority of carpet industries make synthetic fiber carpets. The main carpet fibers include nylon, polyester, triexta, polypropylene, and wool. Nylon and polyester carpet fibers are recyclable.

The Main Types of Carpet Recycling


Old carpets that are in good condition can be placed in other rooms. They also make good car floor mats, foot mats, and area rugs when cut up. Homeowners with pets use old carpets to make scratching posts and pet bed covers. They’re also suitable to use outdoors as welcome mats.

Material recycling

Recycling post-consumer carpets is sustainable and environmentally friendly. Both carpet face fibers and backings are recyclable into new products. Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE) aims to divert carpet waste from landfills and make new products.

Recycled carpets with the CRI certification emit low VOCs indoors. Other products made from recycled carpets have the LEED, NSF/ANSI 140, or EPD certifications.

Energy recovery

Energy recovery is for carpets that can’t be recycled. The carpet waste materials generate heat, electricity, or fuel energy.  Energy recovery from carpets also reduces Municipal Solid Waste incineration which releases toxic chemicals into the environment.

9 Ways to Recycle Your Old Carpet

1. Donate It to Local Carpet Recyclers

Most local waste pickup companies don’t accept carpet since it’s bulky. Instead, look for nearby carpet recycling organizations. Notable carpeting companies like Shaw and Flor let customers return old carpets for recycling, offering designated recycling centers.

2. Sell It Online or at a Garage Sale

You can list gently used carpet on eBay, Craigslist, and Facebook marketplace. Prices vary depending on the carpet’s construction, size, and style.

3. Use It for Outdoor Carpeting

Old carpets are suitable as outdoor rugs for a balcony, outdoor living area, or pool deck. 

4. Use It as a Rug or Mat by Cutting It Up

Mark the carpet backing where you want to cut it. Use a utility knife to make a clean, straight cut.

5. Line Garden Beds and Planters With It

Lining garden beds and planters using carpet allows water to drain while retaining the soil. Natural fiber carpets are ideal for use at the bottom of a raised garden bed. The carpet prevents weeds and grass from growing from underneath. Use a carpet stapler to attach the carpet on the base and sides of the garden bed.

6. Make a Mosaic or Wall Hanging With It

An old carpet makes an excellent base for a mosaic or wall hanging. Add colorful tassels using a crochet hook and different colors of yarn. 

7. Use It to Cover Workshop or Garage Floors

Old low-pile carpets are suitable for garage or workshop floors. Synthetic fiber carpets made from nylon are easy to clean. Nylon is also resistant to abrasion and wear.

8. Use as a Pet Bed or Toy Base

Pet owners can use old carpets to make a pet bed or scratching post for cats. 

9. Use It as Padding

Cut up the carpet into large pieces and use it as padding when moving furniture or appliances. Old carpets can also protect the floor under exercise equipment.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

How can I dispose of old carpets that can’t be recycled?

Order a bulk-trash pickup for broadlooms. You can also hire a waste hauling company to dispose of the carpet. Carpet manufacturers or retailers also offer to pick up old carpets at a fee. Donate it or sell it online if the carpet is in good condition.

Can I recycle old carpet padding as well as the carpet itself?

Yes, most companies that recycle carpets recycle padding as well. Rebond foam, fiber, and rubber padding are recyclable. Check that the recyclers also accept carpet padding before sending it in.

What are the most common carpet recycling mistakes?

Common carpet recycling mistakes include sending carpet and padding together and not checking the label. While most carpets are recyclable, those made from plastic cannot be recycled. When sending in carpets for recycling, use separate bags for different fibers.

How much does it cost to replace an old carpet?

Removing old carpet, new carpet material, and installation costs contribute to replacement costs. The average cost of removing and disposing of old carpet is around $100. Carpet installation costs depend on the carpet type, material, and room.