Photo via Flickr: Sunshinecity

Photo via Flickr: Sunshinecity

After my hair dryer broke last month, I contacted Remington customer service to inquire as to how to repair or recycle the dryer, and was met with the disturbing response that if the dryer was older than the two-year warranty, I should just throw it in the trash. Not satisfied with that answer, I set out on a mission to find some way — any way — to forfend a landfill fate for my dryer. Here’s what I uncovered.

Repair it yourself. While nearly every drugstore-variety hair dryer manufacturer I spoke with — Remington, Conair, and, ironically, Vidal Sassoon Ecostyle — offers neither repair service nor a recycling/take-back program, it’s actually relatively simple to repair one yourself. Essentially a heating element and a fan motor, a hair dryer isn’t complex machinery; sometimes a good internal cleaning is all that’s needed to get it running again. Not handy yourself? Ask a friend or family member who is to help you, or call it a “science project” and challenge your son or daughter to fix it. (Just make sure it’s unplugged first!) Here’s an easy-to-follow article to get you started.

Find an e-waste recycling event. When I first contacted the Department of Public Works (DPW) for LA County, I was informed that e-waste recycling only encompasses computers, printers, and cell phones. But after doing a little internet digging, lo and behold: a page on the DPW website that says hair dryers are, in fact, accepted at county-wide e-waste recycling events (I called the DPW again and spoke with a rep who confirmed this). If you live in LA County, click here for the e-waste collection event schedule, as well as a list of permanent collection centers. If you’re outside the LA area, Google “e-waste recycling” and the name of your city or town.

Next time, buy wisely. When I had my hair cut a few weeks ago, my stylist told me that many of the professional-grade hair dryer companies offer repair service. While these appliances are more expensive than your cheapo drugstore model (expect to pay upward of $100), you won’t have to buy a new one every two years. Solano, for instance, offers a two-year warranty on all its dryers that you can renew every two years, indefinitely. If your dryer breaks, you just send it off to the repair center, it’s fixed within two days, and the company even covers the cost of return shipping. “This keeps our dryers in the hands of stylists and out of the landfills,” states the website. That’s what I’ve been waiting to hear!

–Jennifer Grayson

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38 Responses to “How to recycle a broken hair dryer”

  1. Jen Says:

    Thanks for your tips! I found your blog in an attempt to figure out what to do with my recently deceased dryer. My trusty old conair has been sitting on the kitchen table for about a week as I try to figure out what to do with it. I am frustrated with myself for not thinking of fixing it before reading your post. Thank you!

  2. Jennifer Grayson Says:

    Glad you found the tips helpful! It’s amazing what we don’t think of fixing because we’ve become so accustomed to believing that everything is disposable (I, too, am guilty of this). The other day, my friend was complaining about the strap that broke on her handbag and how she’d have to get a new bag; when I suggested she just drop it off at the local shoemaker/handbag repair place she was like, “Oh yeah — I can’t believe I didn’t even think of that!” She had been all set to spend hundreds of dollars on a new bag when all it needed was a $15 fix.

  3. Janae Says:

    Thank you so much for your blog and two follow-up blogs. I’ve got a hair dryer sitting in my room because I feel guilty throwing it away! I guess I’ll just have to, and the next time my new one breaks, I’ll buy a more expensive one.

  4. Jennifer Grayson Says:

    Hi Janae,

    Don’t forget about the option of finding an e-waste recycling event/collector in your area. If you have trouble finding one, let me know what town/county you live in and I’ll help you out. Good luck!

  5. Farah Says:

    Thanks so much! My Remington dryer broke a few days ago… I took your advice and ordered a professional brand and found an e-waste recycle time on your link above!

  6. Jennifer Grayson Says:

    Ugh, Remington. My broken one is still in my drawer, waiting for the next e-waste recycling event. So glad you found the post helpful.

  7. Lori Says:

    Thanks so much for the info on the e waste centers. I found one in Miami that will take my hair dryer that broke. I am going to order a Solano dryer and take the one I bought at the drugstore yesterday back. So glad I came across your blog!

  8. Jennifer Grayson Says:

    That’s great news! Would you mind posting the name/address/link of the place that you found in Miami for our FL readers?

  9. Sarah Says:

    I’ve had a bag of old hair dryers and hair straighteners sitting in my closet for almost three years! My latest hair dryer just bit the dust and has now been added to the pile. Great tip on the e-waste events however in Boston they specifically don’t take hair dryers!!

    I’m planning on posting a listing on craigslist under “Free Stuff” hoping there’s someone out there who could use the parts or are interested in fixing them up. I just can’t bear to add these to a landfill.

  10. Jennifer Grayson Says:

    Don’t forget to try Freecycle, too — that’s how I found a home for my broken vacuum cleaner.

  11. Malinda Says:

    Thanks for the tip on the E-waste event. I’ve got, not only a blow dryer, but old electric shavers and toothbrushes that I didn’t know what to do with. I will be dropping them off tomorrow.

  12. Jennifer Grayson Says:

    That’s great, Malinda! Where are you located? Care to share the e-waste event with other Red, White, and Green readers?

  13. Becky Says:

    It’s amazing how little information there is out there for recycling hair dryers! We already tried fixing our 5 year old hair dryer to no avail. I too have had our broken dryer sitting on the table for 3 weeks now because I’m loathe to throw it in the trash. I’ve called our local PCA to see if they have an alternative for me.

  14. Jennifer Grayson Says:

    Good luck, Becky! Let us know if you have any luck with the PCA.

  15. Sonya Says:

    Hello! I am so glad I came across your blog. I am having trouble finding an e-waste recycling place in my area. I live in Orlando Florida and think that the program sounds awesome. :)

  16. Jennifer Grayson Says:

    Sonya, have you tried TRC Recycling? I found them via Earth 911.

  17. Patty Says:

    Hi Jennifer,
    I was in the same predicament as Becky: a broken five-year-old blowdryer sitting on the kitchen counter waiting while I pondered about the best way to dispose of the durn thing. Thanks to your blog I found a list of E-waste supporters in my area. Let’s reduce, reuse, recycle! Happy Earth Day! :)

  18. Becky Says:

    I was told to throw the hairdryer away. Apparently there s no company in MN that recycles hairdryers.

  19. Katie Says:

    I live in MN too and couldn’t find anything either. But I do appreciate your suggestion regarding Solano. I am going to save up for one of their model’s and in the mean time, since it’s summer, I am just going to let my hair air dry…

  20. Jennifer Grayson Says:

    Sounds like a plan, Katie! I air dry almost every day, since it’s pretty warm here in California…

  21. Lynda Says:

    Much of e-waste that we produce and are lead to believe will be responsibly disposed of, actually ends up in 3rd world countries where people earn pennies to extract the few salvageable parts while the discarded piles become carcinogenous. Do a google search for “60 minutes e-waste” and you’ll see the horrors of this problem. I appreciate your blog, Jennifer, especially since I’m troubled at how cavalier most people are about throwing something away rather than repair it. I live in So Cal and with a few google searches and phone calls have been able to have most all of my appliances repaired at very minimal cost. For me, it’s the responsible thing to do!

  22. Jennifer Grayson Says:

    I know, I’ve seen that 60 Minutes story (along with countless others) — it’s so horrible. That’s why it’s important to first check with e-waste recyclers to see if they’re e-Stewards certified:

    http://inhabitat.com/2010/04/27/electronics-recycling-101-the-problem-with-e-waste/

    Can you recommend any good appliance repair shops in LA, Lynda? And what types of items have you had repaired?

  23. Ribka Says:

    Also found a great place to easily dispose of household batteries–Sherman Oaks Library. Not sure if all the LA libraries collect them, so call your local library first. http://www.lapl.org.
    Scotch tape over the connection end of the battery before disposing at the libray.

  24. Ribka Says:

    Or better yet, buy rechargeable batteries!

  25. Jennifer Grayson Says:

    Great tip, Ribka — thank you!

  26. Jennifer Grayson Says:

    Yes, very true. Though even rechargeable batteries don’t last forever — you can drop them off for recycling at most Radio Shack and Staples locations.

  27. Ashley Says:

    I am a little late to this conversation, but what about curling irons and hot rollers? Do you think an e-waste recycling event would accept those?

  28. Lena Says:

    Hello,

    I would like to get rid of my old Conair Hair Straightener and I’m in a similar situation. I don’t want to see it (it’s kind of yucky at this point) and I don’t want to just put it in the dump. However, I’ve checked with my town (I live in NY) and they do not accept small household appliance, which is what hair dryers and straighteners fall into.

    I also tried, in vain, (that’s why I’m here) to find a place where I can send it to. I don’t mind paying postage, but I don’t see anywhere to mail it. I even emailed Conair, asking if I could email it back, so I have yet to get to get a response. This is most disappointing. I can only image how much ewaste is putting in the trash daily.

    Do you have any idea where I might be able to send it?

  29. Lena Says:

    Hey YA’LL!!!!!

    I’ve got an update on the “my town doesn’t accept household appliances for recycling” issue.

    So in addition to contacing this website, I also contacted Clean Earth Program, Recycle 911, and CONAIR, the manufacturer of my old hair straightener.

    I told them my story, of how I don’t just want to dump it in the trash, but that I want to dispose of it conscientiously and they told me they’d take it back!

    I got pretty excited, but I’d still have to pay the postage. Later, I found out from a friend in the town next to mine, that HER town does recycle “household goods with electric plugs.”
    So yay! I found a place that takes it and I didn’t need postage. It really does suck that 2 towns in the same county (Nassau Co), have such dramatic recycling rules!

    BUT the moral of the story is…. if you don’t know where to recycle try contacting the manufacturer/ brand/ etc. You never know what may come of it!

    Hope this helps all you good-doers out there :-)

  30. Jennifer Grayson Says:

    Hi, Lena. Glad to hear you found a place to recycle your old dryer. I think it’s really important that we contact companies too, though, just like you did. Companies want to please their customers, and if they hear from enough of us that we won’t be willing to buy their products if they don’t recycle/try to eliminate excessive packaging/etc., then they’re going to have to change their ways.

  31. Jennifer Grayson Says:

    Lena, just to follow up: I’m so sorry I didn’t respond to this initially! It somehow ended up in my spam folder. Thanks so much for posting an update!

  32. mike Says:

    Jennifer,
    Did you know that Solano will not sell parts for their hair dryers to someone that does have the ability to repair them.
    Mike

  33. Jennifer Grayson Says:

    I didn’t Mike, but I’m pretty sure you can send a broken hairdryer back to Solano for repair: http://www.solanopower.com/Support/Pages/FAQs.aspx

  34. Laura L. Says:

    Lynda: you are correct! There are many companies that just pay a developing country to take their waste, it was just on the news about Central America’s rash of health problems related to dangerous waste.

    Best Buy is a place you can trust to responsibly take care of their waste, they have their own processing plant & I believe it’s actually profitable for them to re-use the e-waste. So it’s a win-win-win for you, the environment, and Best Buy! They even have a video of their recycling center showing what they do with the waste. It’s interesting.

    To Becky & Katy: There are many Best Buy’s throughout Minnesota, here’s a link to store locator:
    http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?id=cat12092&type=page&_requestid=87680

    Also: Ikea recycles many things, including packaging materials & old wood! And Home Depot recycles CFL bulbs. It’s easier to find these stores than a local recycling plant, at least in my opinion.

  35. Laura L Says:

    UPDATE:
    Best Buy said on the phone they’d recycle my hair dryer and batteries, but when I got there they wouldn’t take the hair dryer & they only take rechargeable batteries.

    They took just about everything else I had to recycle, including ink cartridges, random cords, ear buds, broken head phones, etc. They just don’t take small appliances. :(

    So I’m still on the hunt for a way to recycle my hair dryer & a broken coffee maker.

  36. Lena Says:

    Hi Laura,
    Did you try checking with your town? In my case (see my posts above) my town didn’t accept household appliances, but my friend’s town did so I was able to give it to her. However, during my quest, I d
    I’d contact the manufacturer, spoke to customer service, and was told I could send it back for recycling. Try taking to yours.

  37. Alaina Says:

    I realize this is a really old post, but a company called Folica will take your old hair dryer or straightener (regardless of brand I think) for recycling and give you $40 off an order for a new product! http://www.folica.com/features/recycle

  38. Jennifer Grayson Says:

    Thank you, Alaina! I appreciate the new info.

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