How to Get Rid of Old Checks

Writing checks may be outdated, but security is still an issue.
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Events occur that might force you to close your checking account, such as a move, a marriage or divorce, or even a lack of satisfaction with your current bank. When you open a new account, the leftover checks from your previous account become useless to you, but they still contain information an identity thief craves. More often than not, people leave unused checks on a shelf where they sit forgotten. A safer option is to destroy them.


Step 1

Shred them; this is the preferred, and most recommended, method of check disposal. A cross-cut shredder is best as it shreds at different angles, which decreases the likelihood of a potential snooper being able to piece the account or routing numbers back together. If you do not own a shredder or do not want to purchase one, ask your bank if it offers shredding service to clients. Many banks will do this for their customers.


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Step 2

Cut checks with a pair of scissors. Though a shredder is the best option for destroying old checks, cutting checks with scissors is an alternative. If choosing this method, be prepared to cut sections that contain routing information, the account number and personal information, including name and address, into very small pieces to increase the difficulty of putting the puzzle pieces back together. Although the account numbers might be outdated, personal information might not be.


Step 3

Burn checks in a safe manner. Burning old checks is a surefire (no pun intended) method of destroying old checks and financial documents. If you choose this method of check disposal, use a safe and legal method. A fireplace can be used safely by burning one book at a time. Tossing entire boxes in at once may cause unnecessary flare-ups and is not entirely safe. This is an efficient method if done with precaution.


Step 4

Soak the checks in liquid. An alternative to the above methods, and an environmentally friendly one at that, is to go back to the days of paper mache with a modern, eco-friendly twist. Put the checks in a large baking dish and soak them in water, vinegar or household carbonated soda. That will break down the paper over time into a pulp that is like the paper mache you made as a child. Depending on the liquid used, the breakdown times will vary from a few days to several days, but it is still an effective way to dispose of the checks.

Things You'll Need

  • Shredder, cross-cut preferred

  • Water, vinegar, carbonated beverage

  • Contained fire receptacle, such as fireplace

  • Scissors


Some communities offer shredding days, and some retailers also offer shredding for a fee. If you use either service, ask about the procedure, and make sure the documents are put into a locked cabinet -- the contents of which will be put directly into a shredder.