Household Hazardous Waste

Guide G-313
Constance Kratzer, Family Resource Management Specialist
College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences New Mexico State Universit. (Print Friendly PDF)

Proper use, care and disposal of hazardous household cleaning products is important for the user’s safety and for the preservation of the environment. In some cases, alternative procedures can be used to handle common household tasks so that hazardous products need not be used.

The chart below discusses selected household products, alternatives, harmful effects and disposal options. For additional information, contact your local county Extension office.

Product Alternatives Harmful Effects Disposal Options
Drain, Oven and
Toilet Cleaners
Prevent clogged drains by pouring boiling water down drain weekly: clean with vinegar, baking soda, boiling water; use plunger; clean toilets & ovens with salt, baking soda, water &
elbow grease; use small dish of ammonia standing overnight to loosen stains.
Some can burn skin; mixing ammonia and bleach creates deadly gas; see 1, 2, 4. Drain & toilet cleaners:
A, D.
Oven cleaners: A, B.
Furniture and
Shoe Polish
Polishes without trichloroethylene, methylene chloride or nitrobenzene; many recipes available including 1 pint mineral oil with 1 tsp. lemon oil (may strip finish). Short Term: irritate and damage skin eyes, lungs; cause nausea, poisoning.
Long term: cause allergies, nervous system disorders; damage kidneys and lungs: see 1, 2, 3, 4 in the key.
See A, B, C.
Mothballs Cedar chips; sachets of herbs such as lavender, bay Poisonous fumes cause headaches, nausea; see 1, 2, 3, 4. See A, B, E.
Never D!!
Oil-based Paints
(including spray)
Latex paint. Irritate eyes, skin, lungs; cause headaches, nausea; require solvents to clean up tools see 1, 3, 4. See A, B, C, E.
Paint Remover and
Other Solvents
No substitutes for most solvents; instead of paint remover, sand off old paint or use heat gun (wear goggles and mask); never use gasoline as a solvent. See furniture & shoe polish. See A,B
Soapy water (use 1 Tbsp. of insecticidal soap per gallon of water to kill aphids, mites); citronella to repel many insects; use natural predators; pull weeds; remove breeding areas; keep areas clean and litter free. Can be absorbed through skin and by breathing; cause headaches, nausea, fatigue, tensions; see 1, 2, 3, 4.

See A, B, E.
Never D!!
Only use A for old, banned
or restricted pesticides.

Used Motor Oil and
Car Batteries
No alternatives available; wear gloves & goggles when handling. Some poisons in used oil may be absorbed through skin, eyes; see 1,2,3,4 for oil; see 4 for acid. Oil: re-cycle at gas station or at store or A; never C, D.
Battery (including battery acid): return to place of purchase or A.
Window Cleaners,
Ammonia Cleaners,
Bleach, Powdered
Baking soda instead of powdered cleansers & ammonia cleaners; nonchlorinated powder bleach instead of liquid bleach, try borax; use 2 tbsp. vinegar & 1 qt. water instead of window cleaners; and elbow grease. Some can burn skin; mixing ammonia and bleach creates deadly gas; see 1, 2, 4. Powdered cleansers,
window cleaners: C.
Ammonia cleansers: A, B, D.

Key to Letters and Numbers

  1. Deadly if swallowed
  2. May cause cancer
  3. Flammable
  4. Causes air or water pollution
  1. A. Turn in on toxic waste collection day.
  2. B. Use it all up, then dispose of container as in step C, below.
  3. C. Wrap container in lots of newspaper, place in plastic bag and put out with the trash.
  4. D. Dilute leftovers with water, and pour down sink. Do not do this if you have a septic tank!
  5. E. Share leftovers with neighbors.


The New Mexico Poison Center
1 (800) 432-6866 or
1 (800) 222-1222

For more information
Call your County Extension Office

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Originally written by Susan Wright, Extension consumer education and health specialist.

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Revised and electronically distributed November 2002, Las Cruces, NM.