Household Hazardous Waste

What is Household Hazardous Waste?

The average home has dozens of chemicals that can pose a health hazard to you, your family and to the natural environment if not managed responsibly. Improper disposal of these wastes can cause harm to humans, plants, animals, soils and ground water.

Household hazardous waste (HHW) is the general definition for household products with labels containing cautionary statements in the following four categories:

  • Flammable/Explosive/Reactive – easily ignited, can explode, can release poisonous fumes.

  • Corrosive/Caustic – Can burn, eat away or destroy materials,including living tissue.

  • Toxic/Poisonous – Can cause injury or death if swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin or eyes.

  • Carcinogenic – can cause cancer.

These words are commonly found on hazardous household products:

Danger! Poison! Caution! Warning!

Responsible Management of Household Chemicals

The best way to manage potentially harmful chemicals in the home is not to buy them whenever possible. “Green” cleaning products are available in almost all retail chains, and are recommended for homes with very young children as they reduce the danger of exposure to children.

Environmentally responsible methods for handling and disposing of unwanted household chemicals are listed below:


  • Small quantities (less than a gallon): solidify with kitty litter, saw dust or sand; or pour out on plastic in a safe area to dry. Dried paint and empty cans where paint has dried can be included with household trash.

  • Large quantities of usable paint: give it to local resale stores or give it to community assistance groups like United Way, Scouts, 4-H or other agencies that will use it on community projects.

Liquid Household Chemicals

  • This category includes cleaning liquids, pesticides, herbicides, insecticides,painting chemicals, solvents, pool chemicals and automotive chemicals.

  • Liquid chemicals should not be poured on the ground or down the drain. Buy only the amount you need, and share any remaining quantity with a friend, give it to a resale shop if it is in its original container, or hold it for a chemical round-up event in your community. Contact the Arkansas State Plant Board for agricultural chemical collection events.

Used Motor Oil

  • Collect it in a spill proof container and take it back to your local auto supply dealer. Wal-Mart, Auto Zone, O-Reilly’s, and Advance Auto are among the retailers that take used oil.

Fluorescent Tubes and Compact Bulbs:

  • Though no state recycling program exists at present, many suppliers offer take-back programs for their customers, including Home Depot and Lowes. Contact your local lighting supply store. Support retailers who offer fluorescent recycling!

Alkaline Batteries

  • Always use rechargeable batteries whenever possible.

Automotive Batteries

  • Always trade in your old battery when buying a new one. Contact your battery retailers for drop-off programs.

NiCad rechargeable batteries

  • End of life batteries can be returned to local dealers (Radio Shack, Staples, Office Depot) for recycling. To set up a local recycling program, contact a take-back program such as the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (

Computer, cell phone, and other special design batteries

  • Contact your local electronic waste recycling center or your local electronics dealers. Many of these batteries are included in take-back programs.


Sharps are health care and medical items that can cause injury or infection when not handled properly. They include needles, syringes, diabetic lancets and related supplies. If you cannot afford a “red box” mail in program, the following Arkansas Department of Health procedure, if followed properly, will reduce the risk of injury or infection when disposing of sharps.

  • Step 1 – Collect items in a strong plastic container with a tight fitting, screw on Lid (A liquid laundry detergent bottle works well).

  • Step 2 – When container is 2/3 full, add 2 ounces of bleach; then add water to fill the container.

  • Step 3 – After a minimum 10 minutes, drain liquid out in a sink drain or commode, reseal the container, tape it shut with heavy duty tape, double bag it and place it in your regular trash.

Never throw needles, syringes or other sharps in your regular trash bag!

Prescription Drugs

Never flush or dump down the drain old or unwanted prescriptions without checking with your pharmacy to see if that type of disposal is acceptable. Many of the drugs used today, if flushed into the water system, can affect area water supplies, surface water systems, and the humans and animals who are the eventual users of that water.

There are several full time and part time drug drop-off programs in the White River District, and their services are free! Find a program near you.