What to do With Old Checkbooks. How to Dispose Your Old Checkbook

What do you do with old checkbooks? This is a question that comes to mind a lot, you have this pieces of paper that you would normally just toss out without giving it another thought.

However, when it comes to your personal financial information, you should be more careful and do it the right way.

All financial documents hold private information that cannot be risked getting into the hands of the wrong people.

Checkbooks are not like other paper waste that, once used, can be thrown into the trash and then be forgotten about.

A check leaf holds private and non-public information that should never be shared with any stranger. 


  • Shred the checkbook to thin pieces of papers so the info can’t be read
  • Never just throw it away as is and expose your personal info to anyone who finds it.
  • You can ask you bank to dispose your checkbook in a safe and secured way

The use of checkbooks in the United States has been declining at an average rate of about 7% per year.

It has dropped from an enormous 42 billion check payments in 2000 to about a little over 14 billion check payments per year in 2018.

Most of the checks – almost sixty percent – are written by businesses and the government In the United States, while consumers’ written checks account for around 40 percent of the United States’ annual check payments.

How to get rid of Old Checkbooks

Ask the bank to dispose of itTearing it with your hands
Shred it yourself in a home shredder Burning it
Cutting it with scissors Soaking in bleach
Putting in the washing machine Soaking in baking soda

The best method to dispose of checkbooks is to shred the checkbooks beyond any point of return, so no scammer or exploiter can take advantage of it.

Checkbooks are paper products. All the ways to deal with paper waste apply to them.

However, checkbooks contain sensitive information that can do extreme damage in the wrong hands, so it is better to be careful rather than be careless in handling their disposal.

1. Ask the Bank to Dispose of the Checkbooks

Most banks allow their customers to submit used checkbooks to them for disposal because of safety concerns due to the insecure disposal of these private documents by inexperienced customers.

A checkbook owner can call their bank and ask the bank if they accept old checkbooks that need to be shredded.

If the bank responds in the affirmative, then submit the old checkbooks to the bank as these checkbooks can be securely shredded by the bank staff, according to safety rules and regulations.

Thus, no personal information is leaked or is likely to become a security concern in the future.

Yet, at times, this course of action may not be possible as some banks do not have brick-and-mortar branches in an area or city or even country.

In these circumstances, it is better to seek other professional or home disposal alternatives that are secure and safe.  

2. Shredding it yourself

Shredding is one of the best techniques that is frequently used to dispose of all paper waste.

A cross-cut shredder cuts at several different angles, which shreds the document into tiny pieces that, no matter what, can’t be assembled back together.

It is a secure disposal method. Shredding can be done at both homes and by businesses.

In an office that generates a large amount of paper waste, shredders are usually available quite frequently.

After obtaining their employer’s permission, an employee can easily use the shredders to dispose of their checkbooks. 

In addition to these workplace shredders, office supply stores, and mailing services also offer their clients shred checks on demand; for example, UPS and FedEx allow clients to destroy small or large volumes of paper at their branches. 

A checkbook owner can go to these shops and have their checkbooks shredded in front of their eyes.

This diminishes any chance of tampering and can also be relatively safe as these cross-cut shredding machines cut the paper into tiny pieces that can never be glued or melded back together again. 

A home-use shredder option could be a portable, small-unit, low-cost, basic shredders available on the market.

The good news is that these shredders are available online and at various affordable prices.

The drawback of these small, low-quality shredders is that they shred the checks into long strips rather than ripping them into tiny pieces. 

These long strips can be reassembled together by a scammer who can discover the checkbook holder’s information this way.

To avoid this issue, it is better to cut the personal information present on the check, such as the account number, routing number, and your name, horizontally, before putting the check through a home-use basic shredder.

This way, the strips will be shorter and even tinier than before. Thus, the chances of reassembling are reduced by a large margin.

3. Cutting the Checkbook

Though a cross-cut shredder is the best option for the destruction of old checks, another option to dispose of checkbooks is to individually cut every leaf of the checkbook into confetti with the help of scissors.

It is better to focus more on the parts containing private information such as the routing number, account number, and any personal information such as a name or address than to shred the leaf equally.

To decrease the likelihood of tampering or reassembling by scammers or exploiters, cut the pieces as small as possible, especially those with private information.

This will render the whole check nearly impossible to reassemble and limit the checkbook holder’s security concern. 

4. Tearing the Checkbook

Another option is to tear the checks into tiny bits with your hands. This process is the same as scissor-cutting a checkbook.

It is better to focus on areas with printed private information and render them useless rather than focus on the whole check.

However, this is a labor-intensive process, and it may not be a viable method to dispose of multitudes of old checkbooks due to its time-intensive nature. 

5. Burning

Burning paper turns it into ashes, rendering it unsalvageable. Burning a checkbook is an even more effective and secure way to dispose of checkbooks than shredding is.

It is one of the easiest to conduct and most secure checkbook disposal methods. 

However, burning something should be done very cautiously because every action that involves fire is dangerous and should be done very carefully.

It is best to burn one checkbook at a time, either in a fire pit with no dry and flammable materials around, in a fireplace as kindling, or even in a small inflammable box outside the house.

An even better idea would be to burn a single checkbook piece by piece to prevent flare-ups and stop any fire hazard from occurring. 

A single leaf being burned makes the fire less likely to be wild and gives better control over the burning process.

Burning also eradicates any sign of the checkbook and effectively destroys the threat of scammers and exploiters as no remainder of the checkbooks is left.

However, it should be kept in mind that undisposed ash waste can be harmful to people and the environment and should be disposed of properly after the checkbooks are burned to cinders.

It is always paramount to be cautious when dealing with fire. 

6. Pulping Paper and Destroying Ink: Bleach

Submerging checkbooks into bleach turns the paper into pulpy paste and renders all writing illegible as the paper falls apart.

The best way to go about pulping a bundle of checkbooks or just one checkbook is to fill a large tub with water, add a little bit of bleach, and drown the checkbooks in it. The water and bleach solution takes a few days to give results. 

A higher amount of bleach present in the solution will increase the speed of the disintegration.

Undiluted bleach can act on checkbooks very quickly. Since bleach is a corrosive agent, it breaks down the paper’s structure and destroys ink, which bleeds out of the paper at the start of the process due to constant submersion in a corrosive environment.

The paper pulp recovered from the process should be dried before disposal. Keep in mind that bleach emits a strong scent, so this process should be done in an open space with much ventilation.

7. Pulping with Baking Soda 

Another way to dispose of old checkbooks is to submerge them into a solution of baking soda and water.

Baking soda causes the paper to breakdown. The ink, over days of submersion, leaks out of the paper and settles into the water.

This solution is less corrosive than bleach and may take up to a week to show results.

The results depend on the concentration of baking soda present in the water: a higher amount of baking soda will result in faster disintegration of the paper.

This process is also environmentally friendly. The finished product can be used for composting or used to make papier mâché decorations. 

8. Washing the Checkbooks

The force of the washing machine’s spinning along with the submersion of the documents in water causes the paper to tear apart into fragments.

Checkbooks can be destroyed by employing this method. In a sturdy canvas bag, fit as many checkbooks as needed.

Then turn the washing machine on, add the detergent, and put the canvas bag inside. 

After a few minutes of swishing around, the paper will start to come undone.

It will take a few cycles before the paper starts to disintegrate and splits into tiny pieces. After a few spinning cycles, take the bag out and dry the paper before throwing it into the trash or composting it.

This method can be a bit messy but is highly secure and relatively safe to implement. 

Thus, many thousands of checkbooks have become obsolete and have been abandoned in the last decade, their owners none too concerned with them.

They have been littered in apartments, abandoned in rubbish bags, and thrown into garbage chutes, all because they have been overtaken by plastic cards that are more manageable and easier to handle. 

Why is the Disposing of Checkbooks Important?

A checkbook is a bundle of check leaves that is provided by the bank to its customers.

A check leaf is inscribed with the customer’s name, account number, and routing number.

Every check is marked with a number, so every sheaf that is torn can be recognized. 

Filled checks that rebound or are canceled contain even more information, such as signatures, names, social security numbers, etc.

In the wrong hands, this information can be very damaging to the owner. 

Anyone can create a false identity and get loans and credit in the checkbook owner’s name.

This scamming can be so dangerous that false identification documents can be generated based on the discarded checkbook information.

This can compromise the checkbook owner’s identity because the scammer can impersonate the checkbook holder and exploit their financial resources. 

Therefore, the information on the checks can be used in any way possible. Every bank that issues checkbooks recommends disposing of the old checkbooks as soon as there is no need for them anymore.

It is also better to dispose of the checkbook safely rather than throwing it into the trash without any thought or leaving it somewhere it could be discovered by a stranger and end up causing unnecessary havoc for the checkbook holder. 


Many people carelessly discard their old checkbooks without thinking about the repercussions of leaving documents with their private information in a garbage pile.

Scammers can recover this information from carelessly strewn documents, create false identities for themselves, and impersonate the checkbook holder.

This impersonation can result in horrifying consequences for the checkbook owner. 

The impersonator can get loans, credit cards, and other financial services by using their false identity rendering the owner liable for every charge. 

Thus, it is essential to dispose of checkbooks safely and securely because the consequences otherwise could be very adverse.

Most banks shred the old checkbooks of their clients without complaint. If this is not possible, then there are many other ways to dispose of old checkbooks safely.

After all, a little precaution lasts a lifetime.

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