Before a Chemical Spill
Buy only as much of a chemical as you think you will use. Leftover material can be shared with neighbors or donated to a business, charity, or government agency. For example, excess pesticide could be offered to a greenhouse or garden center, and theater groups often need surplus paint. Some communities have organized waste disposal days or sites where household hazardous chemicals and waste can be properly recycled.
Guidelines for Buying and Storing Hazardous Household Chemicals Safely
- Keep products containing hazardous materials in their original containers and never remove the labels unless the container is corroding. Corroding containers should be repackaged and clearly labeled.
- Never store hazardous products in food containers.
- Never mix household hazardous chemicals or waste with other products. Incompatibles, such as chlorine bleach and ammonia, may react, ignite, or explode.
Types of Household Chemicals
Minimize the amount of hazardous materials you store; then properly use, recycle, and dispose of the rest. Consider:
- Oven cleaners
- Drain cleaners
- Wood and metal cleaners and polishes
- Toilet cleaners
- Tub, tile, shower cleaners
- Pool chemicals
- Ant sprays and baits
- Cockroach sprays and baits
- Flea repellents and shampoo
- Bug sprays
- Houseplant insecticides
- Moth repellents
- Mouse and rat poisons and baits
- Motor oil
- Fuel additives
- Carburetor and fuel injection cleaners
- Air conditioning refrigerants
- Starter fluids
- Automotive batteries
- Transmission and brake fluid
- Adhesives and glues
- Furniture strippers
- Oil- or enamel-based paint
- Stains and finishes
- Paint thinners and turpentine
- Paint strippers and removers
- Photographic chemicals
- Fixatives and other solvents
Lawn and Garden Products
- Fungicides/wood preservatives
- Propane tanks and other compressed gas cylinders
- Home heating oil
- Diesel fuel
- Gas/oil mix
- Lighter fluid
- Mercury thermostats or thermometers
- Fluorescent light bulbs
- Driveway sealer
Take Precautions to Prevent Accidents
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the proper use of the household chemical.
- Never smoke while using household chemicals.
- Never use hair spray, cleaning solutions, paint products, or pesticides near an open flame (e.g., pilot light, lighted candle, fireplace, wood burning stove).
- Although you may not be able to see or smell them, airborne particles or vapors could combust or explode.
Respond to Accidents
- Clean up spills immediately. Wear gloves and eye protection.
- Use rags to clean up the spill. Allow the fumes in the rags to evaporate outdoors, then dispose of the rags by wrapping them in newspaper and placing them in a sealed plastic bag in your trash can.
- Dispose of hazardous materials correctly. Take household hazardous waste to a local collection program. Check with the county or state environmental or solid waste agency to learn if there is a household hazardous waste collection program nearby.
- Post emergency numbers by all telephones. Include 911 as well as the number for emergency medical services that you trust. In an emergency, you may not have time to look up critical numbers. The National Poison Control Center number is 1-800-222-1222.