Dumpster Diving in Iowa

Are you in search of a guide that comprehensively discusses dumpster diving?

Are you curious to know how to go about dumpster diving in Iowa?

Then you are in the right place.

All you have to do is read along in this article as I take you through the answers to all your questions about dumpster diving in Iowa. 

Dumpster Diving in Iowa

Dumpster diving means searching through trash cans for useful things. This helps in avoiding waste and getting recyclables to those that need them. 

Iowa, also known as The Hawkeye State, has tens of thousands of housing units and 14 shopping malls with over 1600 plus various stores operating in these shopping malls.  

Dumpster diving is high in wealthy towns like Salisbury Oaks, Valley High Manor, Waveland Park, Kirkwood Glen, Waveland Woods, Drake Park, Newton, Des Moines, etc. 

Basically, Iowa has made its way into becoming one of the most famous states for dumpster diving, as they offer all that a dumpster needs in abundance. 

Is Dumpster Diving in Iowa Illegal?

Dumpster diving in iowa

There is no law under the state’s ordinances and statutes prohibiting scavenging in Iowa. Only that you must obey all trespass laws.

Scavenging on private property is considered illegal without a permit and you can be charged with trespassing, littering, illegal dumping, etc, and can attract a fine.

All businesses and companies are private properties; try as much as possible to stay away from these places. 

However, you can dive into any trash can placed in a public place as there is no ownership to claim to it. The moment anyone places the trash can there, the owner has no right to it. 

Is Dumpster Diving in Des Moines Illegal?

In Des Moines, dumpster diving is allowed as long as you do it according to the law. Properties with a NO TRESPASSING sign shouldn’t be entered with a permit. 

There are various charges that we can attribute to scavenging on restricted property. 

Is Dumpster Diving in Davenport Illegal?

There are no laws against dumpster diving in Davenport, only that they will charge and fine if caught on private property. 

If they catch you trespassing on a property with a NO TRESPASSING sign, you will be charged with trespassing and fined based on the incident. 

Therefore, it is essential that you watch out for a NO TRESPASSING sign or stay away from dumpster diving on private property. 

Is Legal to Dumpster Dive at Night in Iowa?

As long as dumpster diving is legal in Iowa, then the law abounds irrespective of the time of the day.

Most dumpster divers prefer to go scavenging at night because of the privacy it offers, but the competition is always high.

It can also be dangerous if you are scavenging in a residential area, the residents might call the cops on you.

At night, always watch out for the NO TRESPASSING sign. Violating such can get you charged with trespassing, which may attract a fine. 

Places to Dumpster Dive in Iowa

As stated earlier, Iowa offers various places to dumpster dive. These places are all over the state and they offer great recyclables for pick up.

Some of the places you can go to Iowa are:

  • Garage Sales
  • Cosmetic Stores
  • Construction Sites
  • Wealthy Neighbourhoods
  • Electronic Shops, etc.

How Much Does A Dumpster Diver Make?

The total amount of profit you can get as a dumpster diver in Iowa depends on the type of recyclables you are picking. Earning much will require you to engage in it full-time.

In Iowa, you can make up to $3500 monthly with full-time dedication. 

Things You Can Find In Dumpsters?

There are several items that you can find in a dumpster. You can reuse or sell some to be recycled if you want to earn some money. 

They include:

  • Toys
  • Books
  • Clothing
  • Footwear
  • Electronics
  • Appliances
  • Sealed food
  • Beauty products, etc.

Related: Dumpster diving in Louisiana

Safety Habits when Diving into the Dumpsters

  • Always wear long sleeves, long pants, closed-toed shoes, and gloves.
  • Use a long pole or heavy stick when scavenging through the trash to avoid getting poked, cut, or bitten by an animal.
  • Carry a flashlight and use it to shine into the dumpsters
  • Always dive into a well-lit area. 
  • Clean up your mess when you’re finished.
  • Keep the noise level to a minimum to avoid a disturbance
  • Never cross any trespassing area, don’t hop fences, and never cut locks.
  • Most importantly, know the area and the laws about dumpster diving before going in, etc.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is garbage picking illegal in Iowa?

Picking/Grabbing it might be illegal in some cities in Iowa as some of these cities have laws against scavenging.

  • How much can you make as a dumpster diver in Iowa?

Most dumpster divers engage in recyclables that you can sell and make a profit. To be earning much as $3500 per week as a dumpster diver in Iowa, you need to put in a lot of effort.

  • What is the best time to go dumpster diving?

It’s best to go early in the morning because most grocery stores dispose of their refuse in the morning.   

  • Can you dumpster dive at Walmart?

Most Walmart stores are private properties, so it is not allowed to dumpster dive on private property. 

  • Why do stores lock their dumpsters?

Store locks their dumpsters to prevent people from dumping their refuse in them. It might also be due to the reason that people are always making a mess at the dumpster. 


In as much as dumpster diving can be rewarding, it can also land you in trouble if not done according to the law.

Dumpster diving in Iowa is not prohibited but each city has its own laws regards scavenging which must be respected.

Always prioritize your safety every time by following the safety tips stated in this article. 

Iowa is a great place to start your dumpster diving quest. 

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