Trash Talk 

How to Dispose of Household Chemicals

How to Dispose of Household Chemicals

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We’ve been using the last couple of weeks to do spring cleaning around our home. We moved out the clutter deep cleaned many areas. Our garage needed some special attention, as it has become cluttered with household things.

While we cleaned the garage out, we collected all the old household chemicals we’re finding, getting them ready for disposal. But it is not as simple as just tossing those old aerosol cans, cleaning solutions, bug spray, drain cleaner, and paint thinner in the trash. A lot of what we’re finding needs some special handling.

Many people don't know how to dispose of household chemicals the right way. There are a few examples of people renting a dumpster for decluttering and end up dumping hazardous chemicals in it. This should never be done. There are proper methods for household chemical disposal, yet first its good to understand the extent to which household chemicals become a disposal problem.

Household Chemicals and Their Hazards

It may be surprising to learn that your home can be stocked with what the federal government deems “hazardous waste.” After all, these are just products that you bought at the store with no restrictions. However, many normal household activities require chemicals to get the job done.

When properly used and stored, these pose little threat to human health. However, when it’s time for disposal of these chemicals, problems can arise if this is not done properly.

The Environmental Protection Agency reports that the average home in the U.S. sees 20 pounds of hazardous waste generated each year. If this is not disposed of, it collects in garages, sheds, under sinks, and in cabinets. Most households end up with an accumulation of up to 100 pounds of hazardous waste in their homes.

Improper Household Chemical Disposal

Improper disposal methods of these household chemicals include pouring into a sink, a storm drain, or onto the ground. All drains lead to a municipal water treatment plant or your home’s septic system.

Some chemicals are difficult to remove from water during treatment or can damage your septic system. Household chemicals poured into storm sewers can end up in ground water such as streams, rivers, or lakes.

These types chemicals should never be placed out with your regular trash collection or in a recycling bin. Also, as mentioned, they should never be placed in a dumpster rental.

“It’s always about water quality. We really don’t want your household chemicals in the trash,” explains Mary Dawson, environmental specialist. “It could present a water quality problem that leaks out onto our streets, when it rains or the run off from snow. It runs off into our storm drains which are connected to our nearest body of water, so that affects our water quality.”

Household Chemicals that Should Not Go in a Dumpster

For big home decluttering and cleanout jobs, a dumpster is a great way to handle all the waste. It may be tempting to just toss all your bottles of household chemicals into the dumpster. But just as these materials are banned from disposal in your regular household trash collection, they are also prohibited from disposal in a rental dumpster container.

What cannot be put in a dumpster? Keep these household chemicals out of a rental dumpster container:

· Garden chemicals and pesticides

· Gasoline, motor oil and antifreeze

· Oven cleaners

· Oil based paint

· Paint thinner and other solvents

· Swimming pool chemicals

· Chemical household cleaners

· Degreasers

· Lighter fluid and other flammable liquids

· Drain cleaner

· Mercury thermometers

· Rodent poisons

How to Dispose of Household Chemicals Safely

Disposing of these materials improperly can harm you, your children, and pets, cause injury to waste handling workers, contaminate your community’s wastewater system, or lead to landfill fires. Instead of just tossing them out, use these alternative methods to properly dispose of household hazardous waste:

An infographic detailing how to dispose of household chemicals
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1. Household Hazardous Waste Facilities

Take your household chemicals to a household hazardous waste (HHW) facility in your community. Hazardous waste facilities near you can be found via Earth911. Some facilities have set days to accept household chemicals, while others operate every day.

There could be a small fee required to drop these materials off at a collection site. To keep the material handlers at these facilities safe, keep all your household chemicals in their original containers and don’t mix any of the chemicals prior to drop-off.

2. Give Away Excess Household Products

Give excess chemicals to a family member, friend, or neighbor for use. This will save them from having to purchase these chemicals and will get them out of your garage.

3. Donate to Organizations and Drop Off Locations

Donate to a local community organization. Pet shelters may welcome disinfectant products. A local community garden will accept leftover fertilizer. Community theater groups can use any excess paint you have to get rid of.

4. Hazardous Wastes Collection Events

Watch for a community trash/hazardous waste collection event in your neighborhood. Many municipalities offer take-back programs several times a year. Before heading out with your hazardous chemicals, check the event information to be sure that they will accept your particular household waste.

5. Request a Hazardous Materials Collection from Your Residential Trash Service

Request special disposal from your residential trash hauler. Some companies offer collection of hazardous household waste for a small fee. When you call to schedule a pick-up, explain what you are tossing out to determine if it is eligible for collection. The company may require you to use special boxes or bags for your chemicals. Before placing them in these collection boxes, make sure that all containers are tightly closed without leaking.

Reduce Your Use of Household Hazardous Wastes

The best way to deal with hazardous household chemicals actually starts before they even enter your home. Reducing your purchasing and consumption of these substances from the start reduces the amount of chemicals that require disposal. To further reduce your use and storage of household chemicals, take these steps:

· Buy only as much product as you need for the job at hand.

· Read the label and follow proper storage instructions.

· Always store household chemicals in their original container.

· Do not overuse the product by applying more than is recommended.

· Avoid mixing different household chemicals.

· Use alternative natural products when possible.

The main strategy to reducing the harmful effects of household chemical disposal is to be thoughtful, both when buying the products and when cleaning out and tossing them. If it seems that the material is toxic, hazardous, or could harm the water supply, seek out alternative methods of disposal instead of just throwing them out in your regular residential trash collection.

Need a Dumpster Rental for Household Cleaning?

When you're ready to get started on that long-awaited decluttering project at home, rent a dumpster from Discount Dumpster. Just remember: don't toss your excess household chemicals in your dumpster! If you need help determining whether a specific product is hazardous or not, our team can assist you every step of the way.

Call to Get Started on Your Home Project - (888) 316-7010

About Monica Mayhak

I am an expert content writer with a depth of experience in the waste management and dumpster industry, with over 25 years of experience writing about construction, home improvement, property management, and education topics. As lead research writer for Discount Dumpster, I have expanded my knowledge and understanding of waste management, construction, and environmental issues over the past several years.

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