Household Hazardous Waste Consumer Savvy


Any household cleaner, chemical, pesticide, or paint that is used in and around the house is considered a household hazardous material.  Any portion of it that would be disposed rather than used would become a HHW.

The problem with HHW occurs when the products are not disposed properly.  If HHW is disposed in the trash, down the drain, or on the ground, HHW can seriously threaten Louisiana's environment.


Using less-hazardous alternatives to household chemicals is one way consumers can help with the HHW problem.  Here are other ways to help:

  • If you must buy household chemicals, buy the smallest amount possible. You can always buy more.
  • Share leftover household products with friends, neighbors, and others who can properly use the product.
  • Use it up!
  • Read the label and use only as directed.  Also, keep the products in the original, labeled containers.


Some of the most common HHW can be avoided simply by using less hazardous products. Some may require more effort than their hazardous counterparts; others may not work as quickly or as well. By using these alternatives, however, you can play a part in protecting Louisiana's environment.

BATTERIES Substitute electrically power items or buy rechargeable.
PAINT Whenever possible, use latex instead of oil-based paints.
PAINT BRUSH Soften hard paintbrushes in hot vinegar for 10 minutes.

Wash in warm water and soap. Let dry.

FERTILIZER Use compost and organic fertilizers.
DETERGENT Substitute a non-phosphate detergent.
ALL-PURPOSE CLEANER Combine 1 teaspoon vegetable oil-based liquid soap, a squeeze of lemon, and 1 quart warm water. Apply with a sponge or rag and wipe clean.
DRAIN CLEANER Use plunger or drain snake. To prevent clogs, pour 1/2 cup baking soda in drain and follow it with 1/2 cup vinegar. Let stand 15 minutes; flush with 2 quarts hot water.
GLASS CLEANER Mix 1/8 cup vinegar and 1 cup water in a spray bottle and apply. Wipe clean
WOOD POLISH Mix 1/8 cup linseed oil, 1/8 cup vinegar, and 1/4 cup lemon juice. Using a soft cloth, rub into wood.
SPRAY STARCH Mix 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1 pint cold water in a spray bottle and shake to dissolve cornstarch.
SCOURING POWDER Use baking soda.
COFFEE STAINS For coffee cup stain removal, rub with moist salt or baking soda.
TOILET CLEANER Sprinkle baking soda into toilet and scrub.

If you feel you must buy a toxic product, buy the least hazardous one.  Before purchasing, look for these signal words on the labels of products:

With Pesticides:
DANGER means highly toxic.
WARNING means moderately toxic.
CAUTION means slightly toxic.

With Household Products:
POISON means highly toxic.
DANGER means extremely flammable, corrosive, or highly toxic.
WARNING or CAUTION means less toxic.

Also, read the directions before you buy, follow those directions carefully, and read and understand the first aid instructions.


  • Avoid dumping chemicals down the drain or flushing them down the toilet. These substances may go to surrounding lakes, bayous, and rivers because sewage treatment plants and septic tanks do not filter out all toxins.
  • Avoid dumping chemicals down storm drains or sewers. These usually lead directly to streams and lakes.
  • Avoid the improper disposal of HHW by using it all up (or by giving it to someone who will) and avoid purchasing the product again.
  • In some areas, there are annual, semi-annual, monthly, or permanent HHW collection facilities. Some items that are accepted at these sites are: oil and latex paint; paint thinner and solvents; lacquers and varnishes; strippers and degreasers; household cleaners; pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides.
  • Bring used motor oil, transmission fluid, and antifreeze to a service station or reclamation center. DO NOT pour down the drain or storm sewer.
  • Turn in used car batteries to the dealer that sold you the new battery or to a battery recycling facility.
  • As a last resort, HHW materials may be disposed in municipal trash. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instruction on the packaging.



Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality 602 N. Fifth Street Baton Rouge, LA 70802
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Call 1-866-896-LDEQ or e-mail our Customer Service Center with questions or comments