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Reduce Your Household Hazardous Waste Use

image of the Reduce Your Use pamphlet

What is Household Hazardous Waste?

Household hazardous waste is any waste, produced in the home, which is flammable, toxic, corrosive, or reactive. Common examples include:

  • Paints
  • Pesticides
  • Automotive fluids
  • Hobby chemicals
  • Cleaning products
  • Thinners and strippers
  • Batteries
  • Acids/Bases

Why are these wastes a problem?

These products pose many dangers. First, you may be exposed to toxic substances during use. Second, the chemicals may contaminate water supplies when improperly discarded down the drain or into a ditch. Third, when tossed into the garbage, the wastes may injure sanitation workers or react on the truck or in the landfill.

How should I handle household hazardous waste?

Handle these wastes carefully to avoid injury to self or damage to the environment. Store wastes in their original containers with the labels intact. Keep them out of the reach of children and pets, and away from heat. Save wastes for a household hazardous waste collection program.

Call one of the following Regional DEC Offices to obtain disposal information:

  • Region 1 - Suffolk and Nassau Counties - (631) 444-0375
  • Region 2 - Manhattan, Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island - (718) 482-4996
  • Region 3 - Sullivan, Ulster, Orange, Dutchess, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester Counties - (845) 256-3123
  • Region 4 - Montgomery, Otsego, Delaware, Schoharie, Schenectady, Albany, Greene, Rensselaer and Columbia Counties - (518) 357-2045
  • Region 5 - Franklin, Clinton, Essex, Hamilton, Warren, Fulton, Saratoga and Washington Counties - (518) 897-1266
  • Region 6 - Jefferson, St. Lawrence, Lewis, Oneida and Herkimer Counties - (315) 793-2590
  • Region 7 - Oswego, Cayuga, Onondaga, Madison, Tompkins, Cortland, Chenango, Tioga and Broome Counties - (315) 426-7419
  • Region 8 - Orleans, Monroe, Wayne, Genesee, Livingston, Ontario, Yates, Seneca, Steuben, Schuyler and Chemung Counties - (716) 226-5411
  • Region 9 - Niagara, Erie, Wyoming, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany Counties - (716) 851-7220

How can I reduce the need to dispose of household hazardous wastes?

Use the least hazardous products available.

  • Many products have less toxic or non-toxic alternatives. If you must purchase a hazardous product, buy only the amount you can use up.

Read labels.

  • Make sure that the product will do what you want it to do before you buy it. Once purchased, follow instructions for safe use, ventilation, and storage.

Don't use more of a product than the directions say to use.

  • Using an excessive amount of a product only results in greater danger to you and the environment, not in a better job.

Give leftover hazardous products to someone who can use them.

  • Friends, neighbors, community groups, or charities may be able to put your leftovers to good use.

Recycle whenever possible.

  • Outlets may exist for used motor oil, batteries, antifreeze, paint, or photographic chemicals.

Avoid Aerosols.

  • Much of the product may end up in the air rather than doing your job.

Safer Alternatives for Household Hazardous Products


  • Use non-aerosol products
  • Deodorants - rolls-ons, creams, sticks
  • Cooking sprays - cooking oils
  • Shaving cream - brush and shaving soap
  • Hair sprays - setting lotions, gels, pump sprays
  • Cleaners - pump sprays

Air Freshener

  • Leave open box of baking soda in room
  • Set out dish of vinegar
  • Add cloves, cinnamon, vanilla to boiling water, simmer for 5 minutes
  • Use herbs or potpourri

All-Purpose Cleaner

  • Mix 1 quart warm water, 1 teaspoon liquid soap, lemon juice and/or vinegar; make stronger according to the job
  • Baking soda with water

Ant Control

  • Pour a line of cream of tartar at place where ants enter house
  • Sprinkle red chili, paprika or dried peppermint where ants enter
  • Caulk or weather strip entry points

Carpet Cleaner

  • Use soap-based, non-aerosols cleaners
  • Clean stains immediately with club soda
  • Sprinkle cornstarch and vacuum
  • Rub dry baking soda into grease
  • Combine equal parts vinegar & water to remove winter salt residue

Chlorine Bleach

  • Use safer & less destructive dry bleach to whiten


  • Use ½ cup borax in 1 gallon water

Drain Opener

  • Plunger or mechanical snake
  • Handful of baking soda and ½ cup vinegar, followed by boiling water
  • Use enzymatic biological drain cleaner
  • To prevent clogging, flush drain weekly with boiling water
  • To prevent clogging, use a strainer to keep hair, lint, etc. out of the drain

Fabric Softener

  • Rinse cotton & wool blankets with 2 cups white vinegar added to washer

Floor Cleaner

  • Mop with 1 cup white vinegar with 2 gallons water
  • Polish with club soda

Furniture Polish

  • Wipe with mixture of 1 teaspoon lemon oil in 1 pint mineral or vegetable oil
  • Try 3 parts olive oil, 1 part vinegar
  • Try 1 part lemon juice, 2 parts vegetable oil

Glue/Decal Remover

  • Soak in white vinegar

Grout Cleaner

  • Use a toothbrush with either undiluted vinegar, 3 parts baking soda with one part water, toothpaste or denture cream

Hair Colors

  • Use plant-derived rinses


  • Select pest-resistant plants
  • Plant garlic cloves at 1-foot intervals in gardens
  • Use traps or spray soaps
  • Blend 6 cloves crushed garlic, 1 minced onion, 1 tablespoon dried hot pepper, and 1 teaspoon pure soap in 1 gallon hot water; let sit 1-2 days; strain; spray on plants

Insect Repellents

  • Don't wear scented colognes, shaving lotions, or shampoos when outdoors
  • Use chamomile tea as a lotion
  • Burn citronella candles, punk, or mosquito coils

Metal Polish

  • Brass - Worcestershire sauce
  • Chrome - Apple cider vinegar or baking soda and soft cloth
  • Copper - Vinegar and salt; or lemon and salt
  • Pewter - Rub with fine steel wool dipped in olive oil, wash in soapy water and dry; or polish with cabbage leaves
  • Silver -Soak in 1 quart warm water with 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, and piece of aluminum foil; or rub with ammonia and soft cloth; or soak in buttermilk or sour milk overnight
  • Stainless steel - Wash with 1 quart warm water and 3 tablespoons baking soda; rinse with hot water

Mildew/Soap Scum

  • Try 1/4 cup baking soda, ½ cup vinegar and warm water


  • Try one of the following - cedar chips, lavender flowers, rosemary, mint, white peppercorns, cloves, dried lemon peels
  • Keep garment clean - wrap in linen or seal in paper or cardboard boxes

Oven Cleaner

  • Wipe up the oven spill as soon as possible
  • Catch spills under baking pan with a baking sheet
  • Sprinkle salt and baking soda on a spill while the oven is still warm. Scour with steel wool and baking soda for baked on grease, wipe with ammonia, let sit overnight; then scrub with baking soda

Scouring Powder

  • Baking soda (do not use on aluminum) or salt

Stain Remover

  • Make paste of washing soda and water; club soda, lemon juice, and hot water

Deodorant stains

  • Rub lightly with white vinegar and launder as usual

Wine/coffee stains

  • Clean stains immediately with club soda

Coffee/tea stains

  • Equal parts moist salt and vinegar; or baking soda solution of 3 tablespoons baking soda & 1 quart water

Toilet Bowls

  • Use baking soda and vinegar paste. Let sit for 2 hours, then scrub.

Window Cleaner

  • Use ½ cup vinegar in 1 gallon warm water, use newspaper to dry glass

More Questions..

Division of Materials Management
Bureau of Waste Reduction & Recycling
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233-7253
(518) 402-8706.