Household Hazardous Waste

What is Household Hazardous Waste (HHW)?

Household hazardous wastes are common household and garden products that are used in your daily life. These products can contain toxic ingredients.

Hazardous Waste

It is illegal to dispose of hazardous waste in the garbage, down storm drains, down the toilet, or onto the ground.

Household hazardous waste that is illegally or improperly disposed of can release chemicals into the environment and contaminate our air, water, and possibly the food we eat.

Examples of household hazardous waste include products such as paint cleaners, oil, batteries, and pesticides. However, there are many more products out there that are classified as household hazardous waste. A good way to identify a hazardous waste product is by taking a look at the warning label. Descriptions such as CAUTION, DANGER, TOXIC, POISON, FLAMMABLE, WARNING, KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN are all good indicators that your product is considered a household hazardous waste. Download our HHW Brochure.

Your household hazardous waste should be taken to the Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility for proper disposal. Many retailers have “Take It Back” programs for their hazardous materials as an alternative to the Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility.

For more information on how to properly dispose of your household hazardous waste, use our How Do I Get Rid Of? tool.

Reduce Hazardous Waste at Home

Reduce Hazardous Waste at Home

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that Americans generate 530,000 tons of household hazardous waste each year! While proper disposal is essential, it is just as critical to reduce the amount we buy and use. Below is a list of recipes for less-toxic alternatives to common household products. These alternatives are safer, effective, and often times less expensive than their hazardous equivalents.

All-Purpose Cleaner
Use four tablespoons of baking soda with one quart of water.

Drain Cleaner
Pour ½ cup of baking soda, followed by ½ cup of lemon juice (or ¼ cup of vinegar) down the drain. Plug the drain and let the mixture sit for about one hour. After unplugging the drain, add two quarts of boiling water.

Glass Cleaner
Mix one tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice in one quart of water. Spray on and use newspaper or clean towel to dry.

Rug Deodorizer
Sprinkle carpets with baking soda. Wait at least 15 minutes, then vacuum.

Use sachets filled with cedar chips, lavender flowers, rosemary, or white peppercorns.

Furniture Polish
Mix one teaspoon of lemon juice in one pint of mineral or vegetable oil and wipe furniture.

Hard Water Stain Cleaner
Mix equal parts white vinegar and water, then spray it on the stained area. Wait 15 minutes, then wipe it clean. For stains that need scrubbing, make a paste of vinegar and baking soda. Spread it over the surface and after 15 minutes, wipe. 

Removing Greasy Stains from Carpet or Upholstery
Scrape up the excess greasy matter using a spoon or a knife. Sprinkle dry baking soda over the stain. Let that sit for about 30 minutes, then vacuum. Blot any residue with warm water and dish soap. Repeat if necessary.

Silver Polish
In a shallow pan, add one teaspoon of salt, one teaspoon of baking soda, and a sheet of aluminum foil to two or three inches of water. Bring to a boil. Completely submerge the silver and boil for two to three more minutes. Wipe away tarnish. Repeat if necessary.

 For safer alternatives to pest control both in and out of the garden, visit Our Water Our World Fact Sheets.

NOTE: Before you use any cleaner on any surface, be sure to test it on an inconspicuous area to ensure the cleaner doesn't damage the material.

What if you have to use a hazardous product?

Sometimes using a hazardous product is necessary, like paint. Here are a few tips examples to make sure there is as little leftover as possible. Fewer leftovers mean less household hazardous waste to handle.

  • Buy only what you need -- Accurately measure the area to be painted, then consult with staff at the store to purchase the right amount.
  • Properly store leftovers  -- Did you buy a bit too much? If so, be sure to store any leftovers in a tightly sealed container at room temperature for future projects.
  • Use it all -- Don't forget about the leftovers. Use the paint for touch-ups or as an undercoat on a different project. 
  • Share -- Are you over the color, or are you all out of projects? See if a neighbor can use it.

These tips aren't just for paint, they work for everything from motor oil to pool chemicals.

Pharmaceutical Disposal

Medications should never be disposed of by flushing or pouring them down the drain. They enter into our waterways and contaminate our water, have adverse effects on fish and other aquatic animals and can result in small amounts of medicine in our drinking water.


Proper disposal of unused prescription medications will also help keep them off the streets and out of the hands of our children.

There are numerous kiosks throughout Shasta County where residents can properly dispose of their unwanted medications.  Use our “How Do I Get Rid Of...?” tool for kiosk locations or visit Shasta County’s Health & Human Services Agency for more information.

Did you know it is illegal to throw your home-generated sharps into your garbage or recycling containers?

Be sure to dispose of your sharps responsibly. Click on the “Waste Reduction and Recycling” link located on the left to be directed to our “How Do I Get Rid Of?” tool for information on how to properly dispose of your sharps and to find disposal site locations near you. Be sure to talk to your pharmacy or health care provider to see if they offer “Take Back” programs.