Free Scrap Metal Pickup on Craigslist

Craigslist can be a good source for scrap, but it's also competitive

Abandoned Iron In Field
••• Getty Images/Juan Carlos Pérez Gallego/EyeEm

Although collecting scrap metal to sell for recycling isn't necessarily quite as profitable as it used to be, there are still plenty of scrap metal collectors on the hunt for scrap metal. Craigslist can be a good place to look for such items, castoffs that can be picked up and turned into recycling centers for cash.

Homeowners often use Craigslist as a convenient way to rid themselves of everything from brass beds and broken air conditioning units to old televisions and kitchen appliances to sinks and other miscellaneous metal items. Sometimes folks are looking to sell their items and other times they're willing to let them go for free just to get them out of their hair.

Tips for Searching Craigslist

If you browse the listings on Craigslist daily, after sorting through the ads for a couple of weeks, you will get a feel for what time of day people in your area post most often. This is when you should be searching, and here are a few tips you can use to help you search more efficiently.

  • Including synonyms in your keyword search can help uncover items that might otherwise be overlooked. If you're searching for a "freezer," for instance, you might miss an "icebox" that's available to be picked up.
  • There are certain keys you can use in your search that serve specific functions to filter your search. For instance, if you put your search term in quotation marks, the search engine will search for that exact word or phrase. Conversely, if you use hyphens in your search, you can tell the search engine to exclude certain words. If you use the pipe key—the vertical character that resembles an uppercase "i" and shares the same key as the backslash on a standard QWERTY keyboard—you can do a search for multiple keywords at the same time.
  • If you create an account on Craigslist, you can save your search string by clicking the "save search" link next to the search bar. 

Tips for Posting on Craigslist

A quick look at Craigslist on any given morning is likely to reveal that there is stiff competition among individuals willing to remove unwanted scrap. It is up to you to find a way to differentiate yourself from the competition.

In addition to responding to ads, you can also post ads of your own, letting people know that you're willing to pick up their unwanted items. Browse existing ads to see what others are doing, take ideas from those, and come up with your own selling points. Here are some tips on things you can include in your ad to attract attention.

  • Post a listing with a broad perspective. Use all of the applicable keywords like "appliances," "metal, scrap," "junk," "clean out," etc.
  • Add photos of a recent scrap haul or a before and after pictures of a clean up you handled. Including images with your ads often get noticed more frequently.
  • Make it clear to folks that you're willing to pick up any unwanted items they may have at their convenience.
  • Point out if you're willing to handle large items that other collectors won't touch.
  • Let them know that you're also willing to clean up an entire shed or garage and will sort out the valuables once you leave their property.

Craigslist Aids and Other Alternatives

While Craigslist doesn't have an official app itself, some scrappers use third-party apps like CPlus for Craigslist, which allows you to set up search parameters and receive alerts for available items without having to manually search ​the Craigslist website.

There are also plenty of other mobile marketplace apps such as LetGo, OfferUp, Freecycle, and Nextdoor that you can install to aid in your search for scrap metal. That last app, which connects you with people living in your neighborhood, lets you link up directly with your neighbors, letting them know you're willing to pick up any old stuff they have taking up space.

Facebook Marketplace has become another popular place to find things folks are looking to unload. Like Craigslist, the thing all of these apps have in common is that you can post ads of your own in addition to scanning existing listings.