We use household hazardous products every day in cleaning and fixing our homes, maintaining our cars, and taking care of our lawns. Products such as oil-based paint, weed killers, and drain opener are okay when we use them for the job they were intended. If these products are not properly used, stored, and disposed of, they can present a hazard to our health and our environment.
Identify the toxins
Labeling is the easiest way to identify hazardous products. Look for the words caution, warning, danger, or poison on a products label. These “signal words” indicate a degree or hazard level and are required by law to be on the labels of hazardous products.
By reading the labels, you can choose the least hazardous product to get the job done.
Healthy home checklist: Use this checklist to identify common hazardous products in your home.
Handle with care
Use and store products containing hazardous substances carefully to prevent any accidents at home.
- Read and follow the safety and use instructions on the label.
- Keep products out of reach of children and animals.
- Store all hazardous products on high shelves or in locked cabinets away from food items
- Store corrosive, flammable, reactive, and poisonous products on separate shelves, away from heat, and where will stay dry.
- Never store hazardous products in food containers, keep them in their original containers and never remove labels.
- Store latex paints and other products that say “prevent freezing” indoors
- Never mix chemicals together.
- DO NOT use product if it is more than 10 years old.
Dispose of hazardous waste safely
Some household wastes pose a threat to people or the environment — or both — if not disposed of properly.
- Don’t throw it in the trash – take it to your local household hazardous waste facility.
- Don’t pour them in the sewer
- Don’t pour them on the ground.
Bring in what you don't need, take what you do
When you bring in your household hazardous waste, some of it may be placed in a product reuse room for other citizens to use free of charge.
Reduce your use
- Choose the least hazardous product for the job.
- Read and follow label instructions. Use the right product for the job and use the correct amount of the product.
- Use it up or give to someone else to use.
Chemicals and your health
- Priority chemicals (MDH) — Chemicals manufactured in high volumes in the U.S. that have been found in humans, in indoor environments, or in wildlife or the environment
- Environmental agents (EPA) — Chemicals or factors in the environment to which humans are exposed that may cause adverse health effects
The best way to handle household hazardous waste is to prevent it in the first place.
- Common household materials such as baking soda, vinegar, or plant-based soaps can be effective cleaners.
- Replace toxic chemicals with some elbow grease
- Health Stuff product search (Ecology Center)
- Skin Deep (Environmental Working Group) — Online profiles for cosmetics and personal care products and their potential hazards and health concern
- Find products that meet the Safer Choice Standard
- Search for greener, healthier products with Green Seal certification