University of Missouri Extension

WM6003, Reviewed October 1993

Household Hazardous Products

Marie Steinwachs
Office of Waste Management

A household hazardous product is one whose use or disposal poses a threat to human health or the environment. Hazardous products should not be put in the trash, down the drain, into storm drains or burned unless you are instructed to do so by local waste authorities.

This guide will help you learn to safely handle hazardous products or even find alternatives to hazardous products.

What makes a product hazardous?

Products are considered hazardous if they have one or more of the following properties:

Signal words

Labels of hazardous products are required by federal law to list signal words. DANGER or POISON indicate that the product is highly toxic, corrosive or extremely flammable. WARNING or CAUTION indicate that the product is moderately or slightly toxic.

General categories of hazardous products

Thousands of consumer products are hazardous, but for ease of remembering, they can be broken into the following general categories:

Think before you buy

Use it safely

Store it safely

Cleaning up spills

These directions apply to liquid pesticides, paints, solvents and other household hazardous products.

A word on disposal

In most cases, the best thing to do with a leftover product is to use it all according to the label directions or find someone who will use it.

Banned or restricted pesticides, old medicines and products whose safety instructions are no longer readable should not be used or shared

Some household hazardous wastes, including old lead-acid batteries, button batteries, used motor oil and antifreeze can be recycled. For many household hazardous products there may be no safe disposal available. These products must be stored safely until your community holds a household hazardous waste collection.

Safer alternatives

All-purpose cleaner

Drain cleaner

Furniture polish

Lime and mineral deposit remover

Metal cleaner/polish


Spot remover

Other sources of information

The Guide to Hazardous Products Around the Home. The guide was written by the Household Hazardous Waste Project, winner of the 1991 President's Environment and Conservation Challenge Award.
Though much effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained herein, the Household Hazardous Waste Project assumes no responsibility and disclaims any injury or damage resulting from the use or effect of any product or information specified in this publication.
Copyright 1994 by the Environmental Improvement and Energy Resources Authority. Published by the MU Extension Household Hazardous Waste Project in cooperation with EIERA.
WM6003 Household Hazardous Products | University of Missouri Extension

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