Household Hazardous Waste: Coming Clean


Find a recycling center that handles florescent lights.

That florescent light just burned out. Can you just toss it in the trash? Hold on, CFL’s and florescent tubes contain mercury.

Go ahead, admit it. You’ve had this dream you’re sitting on enough hazardous waste at home you expect to be arrested by the garbage police at any moment. This all stems from your anxiety someone actually sorts through your garbage and has noticed you sneaking dead batteries and CFL’s (compact florescent light bulbs) in with the rest of the trash. Oh, and should we mention all those old bottles of cleaning supplies, cans of oil-based paint, jugs of used motor oil, unknown half-full bags of fertilizer, solvents and more? If truth be told, you know this stuff probably shouldn’t be going into the trash, but just what is one supposed to do with it?


Acids and solvents are considered hazardous waste.

When the label looks like this one and says “corrosive” you know it’s hazardous waste.

For most of us, if a process is easy and convenient we embrace it. That’s why the trash industry has been such a huge success for so long. Before the days of recycling, we could just take all the stuff we didn’t want, toss it in a big can, and bring it to our curb. Then once a week the garbage man would magically haul it away. End of story—at least as far as we were concerned.


This propane tank is a hazardous waste container.

Don’t throw used containers of propane or butane in the trash. They can blow up!

Not so fast! Over the last several decades we’ve learned more and more about the environment, and specifically, how much humans have negatively impacted it. For example, we’ve learned many chemicals thrown in old landfills have leached into the groundwater beneath them causing catastrophic damage to local ecosystems. We’ve also learned that many items like paper, plastic and metals can be used again and again so we can substantially reduce the amount of space needed to handle all that trash.


There are many different types of common household hazardous waste.

Motor oils and other car supplies are considered hazardous materials as are bags of fertilizer and many other garden supplies.

By now, most everyone has been involved in a certain amount of recycling. Most municipalities even require waste to be separated into recyclable and non-recyclable components. Still, there are a large number and variety of items that should never be thrown either in the trash can or those recycle containers (if you have them). These are hazardous wastes, and they need to be handled separately—often at a specific facility or site set up just for the purpose.


How Do I Know If It’s Hazardous Waste?


A product is considered hazardous if the label on it contains words like Caution, Warning, Danger or Poison. Take a look at the chart below for common household items considered hazardous. We should note, this chart is only a starter. There are many other items considered hazardous. To be sure you know the regulations in your area, check with your local utility.


A list of common household hazardous wastes.

This list of hazardous items is not all-inclusive. To be certain if it’s considered hazardous or not, check in with your local utility.


How To Get Rid Of Hazardous Waste


This iRecycle app is from

Go to your app store (either iTunes or Android) and search for the iRecycle app. It’s free to download.

No doubt you’d be happy to recycle products like those above if you knew where to take them. Thankfully, a site called  makes that job easier. You can go to their website and hit the “Find A Recycling Center” button to locate the hazardous waste site near you. Alternatively, you can download their app (which you can find in your app store under the name of iRecycle) and find a recycling location directly from your smart phone. One other alternative is to check with your city, county or local trash utility. Many offer special drop off days and sites to handle hazardous wastes. Note: is also a terrific source for information on any of your recycling questions. We urge you to check it out.



Find the nearest hazardous waste site near you.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover my hazardous waste site was within a few miles of home.

Hazardous waste recycling options vary from state to state and county to county so you’ll want to find the nearest site and get a list of those items they handle and those they don’t. Your site may not even charge you to drop off items, depending on whether it’s supported by local utility taxes.


You can help the environment. Just do the right thing when it comes to taking out the trash.

Many common household products are considered hazardous waste. Get to know which ones are and which aren’t.

You may also find some items are easily handled at a center and some won’t be accepted. For example, not every site is set to take ammunition or explosives so you may have a harder time locating a site for those items. Still, every effort you make to properly dispose of hazardous waste means there’s that much less filling some landfill and leaching into groundwater or creating dangerous conditions for those employees working these sites.


Do your part. You can help make a difference in protecting the environment. Find the nearest hazardous waste center near you and dispose of all waste properly. And then be sure to share this information with all of your friends. Thanks for caring.


If you found this post interesting, you may also want to check out our post:

How To Dispose Of Prescription Medication


2 Responses to Household Hazardous Waste: Coming Clean

  • connie says:

    In less urban areas of Washington, individual cities/towns and/or counties hold a hazardous was drop-off day once or twice a year at a central (large) location.

    Call your city/town or county government offices for the schedule and location. Appliance removal is generally held on a different day, but is a great way to get rid of old appliances.

  • bobalot says:

    Thanks for the tip!


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