Hazardous products can be found in a majority of households – in garages, storage rooms, cleaning closets, or even medicine cabinets. Products are considered hazardous if they are flammable, toxic, corrosive, or reactive. Paint, motor oil, lithium batteries, mercury lamps, and many household cleaners fall into this category. These products need to be handled with care and disposed of properly to avoid threatening your health, safety, or the environment.

What is Household Hazardous Waste?

When household hazardous products are used up or ready to be thrown out, they’re considered Household Hazardous Waste (HHW). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines household hazardous waste (HHW) as “leftover household products that can catch fire, react, or explode under certain circumstances, or that are corrosive or toxic.” Basically, any household product that’s labeled as flammable, toxic, corrosive, or reactive that you’re ready to get rid of.

Some common products considered HHW include:

  • Leftover paint
  • Drain cleaners
  • Used oil
  • Antifreeze
  • Pesticides
  • Fluorescent lamps
  • Smoke detectors
  • Consumer electronics like old televisions, computers, or cellphones

To avoid the potential risks associated with HHW, it’s crucial that you monitor the use, storage, and disposal of these products in your home.

How do you know whether a product is hazardous?

If the product contains hazardous ingredients, the manufacturer is required to include a signal word such as “Danger”, “Warning”, or “Caution”, along with the description of the hazard, common chemical name for the ingredient, safe use and handling instructions, and other important information. Carefully read the labels before using or disposing of any chemical products to avoid the risk associated with them.

What are the potential risks associated with HHW?

Household hazardous waste can pose a risk to health and the environment if not cared for or disposed of properly. They could hurt or harm you, your kids, or your pets. They could injure sanitation workers. And they could pollute the environment, contaminate septic tanks, or damage wastewater treatment systems.

How do you properly dispose of Household Hazardous Waste?

Disposal methods vary from community to community, but fortunately, there are many resources to connect you with the best disposal method in your area. Below are a few helpful resources.

If you live in Michigan:

Contact your local County Recycling and Hazardous Waste contact. Click below to download a list of the contact for each county in Michigan.

For all other states:

Visit the EPA’s page with links to the local agencies for each state.

You may also visit the Earth 911 database to search for a recycling program for your specific hazardous product near your zip code.

Tips for the Safe Handling of Household Hazardous Waste

  • Always read the product labels.
    • Follow the safe use and handling instructions to prevent any accidents at home
    • Follow disposal instructions to reduce the risk of hazards on the way to a disposal facility
  • Always keep hazardous products in their original containers and never remove the labels.
  • Never mix household hazardous waste other products.
    • This could cause a dangerous reaction and could make it unrecyclable.
  • Never pour household hazardous waste down the drain, on the ground, or in storm sewers.
  • Never throw household hazardous waste out with the regular trash.
  • Never leave hazardous products around the house or within reach of pets or children.

Always check with your local environmental, health, or solid waste agency to find out how to properly manage or dispose of hazardous materials in your area.

Stay safe out there!