11 Best Stores For Dumpster Diving 2024 (Places Not To Miss)

Best Stores For Dumpster Diving
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Do you love finding free stuff? Here is the list of best stores to dumpster dive. Whether you’re looking for makeup or electronics, these places for dumpster diving will have what you need.

A famous proverb goes, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” It is precisely a concept around which dumpster diving revolves.

For some, it can be a venture to explore a new side hustle, while for few, it can be a way to get some help living their lives. Dumpster diving can be fun, but sometimes the experience can get unpleasant.

It may not sound like an ideal activity but it can be very profitable. If you are ready for the challenge, this article will help you learn :

  1. What is dumpster diving?
  2. What are the best places to dumpster dive?
  3. What are the best stores for dumpster diving?
  4. Safety tips and precautions while dumpster diving.

What Is Dumpster Diving?

Dumpster diving refers to an act of searching for items from waste, which means you extract useful and valuable items from the dump that can be reused, recycled, sold, or upcycled.

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Dumpster diving can be a source of daily living needs for many as you can find food items from the dumpsters of grocery stores and restaurants.

You can also get clothes, shoes, makeup items, electronics, furniture, and many other things by looking into the right dumpster.

It is interesting to know that though the US only has 4.25 percent of the world’s population, it produces a high amount (around 30%) of waste globally.

Dumpster diving can be a fun exploration.

Imagine you go searching for makeup from a dumpster outside a beauty store. But amidst your exploration, you get caught. You might ask, why get caught?

It may lead to concerns that if dumpster diving is legal or not. Read on to explore it before trying!

Wait!!! Do you know our favorite way to make extra money in my free time? Readers love them too!

Is It Illegal To Dumpster Dive?

There is a very straight answer to this question: Yes and no. If you go into the specifics of this topic, you can see that dumpster diving is simply collecting trash that others have thrown away.

Imagine this: one day you threw unused food in the dumpster. Another man came and picked it out of the trash and ate it. He might not get in trouble for doing so.

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However, if you had no tress-passing signs or boards indicating that the dumpster is your private property, then the person who went through your trash is breaking the law. It’s as simple as that.

That is why there is no clear answer to this question.

To make it simpler, this is what I found: In 1988, the US Supreme court declared that dumpster diving, searching the trash, is legal until and unless a county, any city in the US, or any state ordinance does not conflict with it (2).

And Texas is one of the cities that has a conflict with the state ruling mentioned above.

Things to Take Care Of Before Dumpster Dive

Frankly speaking, as a matter of precaution, if you are a resident of Texas City or not, you should be extra careful before going to dumpster dive.

Otherwise, you can get yourself into much unnecessary trouble. Here are some safety measures you should take before dumpster diving:

Ensure You Are Not Trespassing

Often you can find boards or signs saying that you cannot search for items in the dump. In such a case, never attempt to trespass the boundary because that becomes illegal.

It would be better to avoid dumpster diving in places with sealed dumpsters or saved around fences or steel wires.

Ensure Your Head-To-Toe Protection

During dumpster diving, it is likely that you can pass through broken items like shattered glasses that are harmful to you.

Therefore, it is advisable to put on gloves or a safety jacket before looking into dumpsters to protect yourself from sharp objects.

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For example, if you are dumpster-diving near a factory that makes steel, there is a good chance that the dumpsters will have sharp pieces of metal that can hurt you. 

Ensure you take hand torches or headlights to see items correctly, and never dumpster dive at night. Without them, you won’t be able to see items in the dumpster correctly, and the chances of getting hurt are high. 

If you are looking for metal scrap items, try using metal detector kits to quickly help you find the locations of metals from invaluable trash. Else, you will waste plenty of time searching for them.

What Happens When You Get Caught Dumpster Diving?

Getting caught during dumpster diving can be a little less likely, but if you are a Texas resident or trespassing someone labeled no usable trash, chances are you will get caught.

But what should you do when you get caught? Should you run away as fast as a racing cheetah?

Well, you should face the situation. You should first apologize if you are trespassing someone’s dumpster boundaries without permission. It is the first step toward the first level of cooperative mutual agreement.

However, you can even get charged depending on the state and what laws you broke.

Yes, you may be fined for loitering, trespassing, and littering if you leave a mess behind. This means you will get a considerable loss instead of the benefits you anticipated from the dumpster diving.

Dumpster diving isn’t illegal, but it can come with some risks if you’re not careful. Follow these tips, and you’ll be sure to stay safe and legal while dumpster diving.

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Dumpster Diving Top Items


In the US, every year, $108 of food gets wasted. It equals $130 billion in meals given away and more than $408 billion in money spent on food (4).

Dumpster diving for food helps poor people live through their daily hunger struggles. Bakeries, restaurants, grocery stores, and sometimes typical household dumpsters usually contain perfectly edible items that have been thrown away because they are not sellable anymore.


It is not uncommon to find luxury makeup, skincare, and hair care products in drug or beauty-store dumpsters.

You might have seen YouTubers who go crazy over makeup hauls. Most of these products are high-end brands that cost a lot of money.

However, please bear in mind that these products get damaged quickly due to their fragile nature.

Wearable Stuff

Clothes, jewelry, shoes, jackets, and other wearable stuff 

are typical items seen during dumpster diving at vendors’ stores, thrift shops, or manufacturing stores.

These clothes are usually tossed away since they don’t sell well or get damaged. If you look hard enough, you may often find clothing in good shape.

Electronic Gadgets

If you are lucky, you can also find gadgets like smartwatches, tablets, phones, and laptops in dumpsters. Someone can make a lot of money by cashing on their electronics. 

Usually, store owners destroy these gadgets before throwing them on purpose(so they can’t be reused), but often, they are still in good condition and can be used.

Electronic items such as batteries, light bulbs, electrical wires, printers, TVs, etc., can be found in dumpsters around electronic stores. 

Someone who knows how to deal with electronic items such as capacitors, inductors, transformers, diodes, etc., will know that these products carry great worth too.

These items can be recycled and help repair other broken electronic gadgets. Most electronic gadgets can be fixed back if their internal components are replaced with components that are in operating conditions.

So dumpster diving for electronics can be profitable!

Reusable Items

Metals like copper and aluminum can also be found during dumpster diving. Some dumpsters may also contain wood items, show pieces, and books that you can reuse or resell on Facebook or other selling websites.

Best Stores For Dumpster Diving In 2022

Read on to explore some best places to dumpster dive where, most likely, products such as cosmetic and electronic gadget items are expected to be found.

We will go through the best places for each item category in detail later in this post.

Here is a quick table of the best stores to dumpster dive for each item category.

Item Category Dumpster Diving Stores
MakeupUlta Beauty, Sally Beauty
ElectronicsBest Buy, local electronic shops
Body ProductsBed Bath & Beyond, Victoria Secret
Seasonal ItemsT.J. Maxx, Micheals
Pet ItemsPet Smart
Non-perishable food and pantryGrocery Stores, Supermarkets, Pharmacies
best stores to dumpster dive
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For Makeup

The most promising way to find the best dumpster diving stores for makeup is through the personal experience of someone who regularly dumpster dives for makeup.

Jessica Cesselar has been doing dumpster diving for seven years and has found several worthy items of makeup to count on. 

The beauty products she found were new, leftovers from the end of a sale, or testers.

According to her experience, Ulta Beauty and Sally beauty are the most common places to get your hands on the most delicate makeup products.

These stores usually have a lot of unsold or slightly damaged makeup items that they need to get rid of quickly.

And yes, you may find Mac items as well at Ulta. You can also explore dumpsters of Sephora to collect valuable makeup items. 

Follow this hashtag for Ulta dumpster diving.

Bath And Body Works

Just hop on to your Youtube, and you will find a lot of videos of people finding great deals at Bath and Body Works.

These dumpsters at Bath and Body Works usually contain body care products, candles of various fragrances, hand soaps, sanitizers, and various types of gift sets. 

The BBW stores generally throw the items that are damaged in packaging or returned. It means you are likely to find new products that are still new and can be used without any problem.

You can see A LOT of about BBW dumpster drives here.

Victoria’s Secret

Victoria’s Secret is another store where you can find some great bath and body products similar to Bath and Body Works.

However, it is not just limited to that. You can also find some great clothes and accessories with the tags still on them in the dumpsters of Victoria’s Secret.

Here’s a Tik Tok thread to follow.

For Electronics

One of the Reddit users suggested that Mom and Pop electronic stores are one of the best places to dumpster dive and get a profitable experience. 

Best Buy stores are also a considerable option to dumpster dive for all kinds of electronic gadgets.

Thrift Stores can be skipped as they don’t offer good options for this category. They usually have broken gadgets that are useless (6).

You can also find valuable electronic gadgets where shops sell technical stuff in your locality. 

Even if some parts are not working, most gadgets are so expensive that you can sell other parts and earn a profit from them!

For Games

If you’re planning on going dumpster diving at your local Game Stop, don’t expect to find any Playstation or Xbox consoles.

These are usually the first items to be snatched up, and honestly, they are quite rare too. 

What you will find are posters, gaming guides, and some good gaming accessories that you can sell for profit.

Major Retailers


Target is the eighth largest retailer in the U.S. For some dumpster drivers going for a dumpster drive at Target was like hitting the jackpot. 

They’ve found anything from the packed food items to pet stuff, new clothes to kid toys, and nursery items. 

Here’s a Target thread to follow.


Like Target and Costco, Walmart is also an excellent place to dumpster dive for everyday products.

You can find grocery items, furniture, home accessories, clothes, etc. But the only difference is that the resale value might be low for these items, which is why they are best to use them yourself.

Here’s a Walmart dumpster thresd to follow.

Five Below

Five Below is a high end-discount store that sells products for $ five or less. Since the goods are inexpensive, Five Below throws away a lot of unsold items.

Dumpster diving at Five Below can get you some great deals on small accessories, gift items, jewelry, and small electronics like headphones.

Check what other dumpster frivers are scoring at Five Below.

Dollar General

Dollar General is another place to dumpster drive for low-priced household and pantry items. 

Divers have found loads of stuff like cleaning supplies, nonperishable food, and health/beauty products. 

If you go somewhat after Christmas, you can find PJs, holiday-themed blankets, and related seasonal stuff in the dumpsters of Dollar General.

Pet Stores

Got a pet?

Dumpster diving in pet stores like Pet smart can be a great way to get food, toys, bedding, leashes, or other supplies for your furry friend.

Surprisingly, some dumpster drivers have also found live animals in the dumpsters of Pet Marts. So if you’re not squeamish, this might be a great place to look for free pet stuff.

Home Stores

TJ Maxx

TJ Maxx can be a treasure trove for dumpster divers. You can find branded clothes, shoes, bags, home goods, and seasonal stuff like Christmas decorations.

I remember watching a Ticktok of someone who found Michael Kors handbags in the TJ Maxx dumpster as well.

Here is the link to some of TJ Maxx’s finds.

Is It Illegal To Dumpster Dive In Texas?

In Texas, the proverb of one’s man trash is another man’s treasure isn’t much applicable. Texas has its own set of rules and regulations for dumpster diving and tress passing.

Let’s see what the law says about dumpster diving in Texas:

-In Texas, the court ruling states that any item thrown by a person in the dumpster is not trash until the waste management collects it. It is the property of the waste dumper (3).

-It is a crime if you enter another person’s property to look for discarded or abandoned property without the owner’s consent.

Because every business and private home is regarded as private property, trespassing laws may be applied to anyone who attempts to access a dumpster without the owner’s consent.

Dumpster Diving: The bottom Line

Dumpster diving can be an experience filled with thrill, fun, sorrow, dismal, and a burst of dopamine. 

It can aid people who are sinking in the quicksand of poverty. At the same time, it can be a side hustling income source for many people. 

It’s important to understand that not all states or countries have legalities surrounding this activity. Some places consider it stealing, while others see it as a way of recycling.

Before you begin diving into dumpsters, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with your state laws. You may even face legal difficulties for doing so in some cases.

Even if your state permits it, the simplest method to avoid any legal issues when dumpster diving is to look for signs that prohibit “No Trespassing” or “Private Property.”

If you see such indications, it would be best not to venture into that space. Whatever you do, make sure the proverb, one’s man trash is another man’s treasure, works for you! 

Over to you, what’s your recommendation on best stores for dumpster diving? Leave me your comments below.

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