Many common products are hazardous because they contain chemicals that are toxic, corrosive, flammable or reactive. Improper disposal (pouring down the drain, on the ground, into storm sewers, or in some cases putting them out with the trash) can harm the environment and a pose a threat to human health. First and foremost, you should try to reduce the amount of unused, unwanted, or leftover household chemicals you create. With a little planning it is easy to avoid creating HHW!


  1. Choose safer alternatives.
    Product labels have signal words to help you identify the hazard levels of the product. Choose the safest alternative to do the job at hand!

    Signal Words:
    Toxic or poison: Highly poisonous or toxic
    Danger: Extremely flammable, corrosive or highly toxic
    Warning: Moderately toxic or product has fewer hazards
    Caution: Slightly toxic or product has minimal hazards

  2. Buy only as much of a product as needed and use products up entirely.
    The large economy size is not a bargain if at the end of the job you have product you can't use.

  3. Store products properly.
    Follow label direction for safe storage to maintain products in useable condition.
    • Store products out of reach of children and pets.
    • Store products in cool, dry areas with adequate ventilation.
    • Keep products in their original containers with readable labels.
    • Do not reuse containers for other purposes.
    • Close lids tightly so that products will not dry out, evaporate or leak.
    • Store away from sources of heat, spark or flame.

  4. Share or swap leftovers with others who can use them
    Neighbors, friends and relatives may be able to use the product up, eliminating the need to handle it as HHW.

  5. Recycle whenever you can
    Click here recycling alternatives for common HHW materials such as motor oil, car batteries, rechargeable batteries, and fluorescent lights.

  6. Make a reservation with St. Louis Household Hazardous Waste
    Not all household hazardous product leftovers can be shared or recycled. If the label indicates the product should be disposed of through a community collection program, St. Louis Household Hazardous waste is the option for residents of St. Louis City, Saint Louis County and Jefferson County. Through this program up to 85% of the material collected will be recycled or recovered as waste to energy. The remainder is managed like regulated hazardous waste and in accordance with applicable regulations.