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Environmental Health

Environmental Health

Household Hazardous Waste (HHW)

Each year, the Monroe County Solid Waste Program sponsors collection days to assist you in disposing of old or excess chemicals and materials from your house and or garden.  This program is limited to individual households only.  No materials from business or industrial sources will be accepted.  All items must be brought in the original container.

For the date, time and location of the next collection please check the Recycle homepage.

Most of our homes are filled with products that are classified as "hazardous".  A product is considered to be hazardous if it contains corrosive, toxic, ignitable or reactive ingredients.  These materials require special care during usage, storage and disposal.  Below are some common household items that may contain hazardous ingredients.

Cleaning Products:

  • Oven cleaners
  • Drain cleaners
  • Wood and metal cleaners and polishes
  • Toilet cleaners
  • Tub, tile, shower cleaners
  • Bleach (laundry)
  • Pool chemicals

Automotive Products:

  • Motor Oil
  • Fuel additives
  • Carburetor and fuel injection cleaners
  • Air conditioning refrigerants
  • Starter fluids
  • Automotive batteries
  • Transmission and brake fluid
  • Antifreeze

Lawn and Garden Products:

  • Herbicides
  • Insecticides
  • Fungicides/wood preservatives

Other Flammable Products:

  • Propane tanks and other compressed gas cylinders
  • Kerosene
  • Home heating oil
  • Diesel fuel
  • Gas/oil mix
  • Lighter fluid

Indoor Pesticides:

  • Ant sprays and baits
  • Cockroach sprays and baits
  • Flea repellent and shampoos
  • Bug sprays
  • Houseplant insecticides
  • Moth repellents
  • Mouse and rat poisons and baits

Workshop/Painting Supplies:

  • 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


  • Batteries
  • Mercury thermostats, thermometers or other devices containing mercury 
  • Fluorescent light bulbs
  • Driveway sealer                   

For more information on products and their potential health effects visit the National Library of Medicine's Household Product Database at http://householdproducts.nlm.nih.gov

Now that you know these materials are hazardous, what should you do with them?  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends reduction first, then reuse, recycling and disposal as a last resort.

You can reduce the amount of hazardous materials you purchase by using alternative methods or products without hazardous ingredients.  Here are alternatives to some common household items. 

Household Cleaner


Drain cleaner

Use a plunger or plumber's snake.

Oven cleaner

Clean spills as soon as the oven cools using steel wool and baking soda; for tough stains add salt (do not use this method in self-cleaning or continuous-cleaning ovens).

Glass cleaner

Mix 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice in 1 quart of water.  Spray on and use newspaper to wipe dry.

Toilet bowl cleaner

Use a toilet brush and baking soda or vinegar. (This will clean but not disinfect.)

Furniture polish

Mix 1 teaspoon of lemon juice in 1 pint of mineral or vegetable oil, and wipe furniture.

Rug deodorizer

Deodorize dry carpets by sprinkling liberally with baking soda.  Wait at least 15 minutes and vacuum.  Repeat if necessary.

Silver polish

Boil 2 to 3 inches of water in a shallow pan with 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, and a sheet of aluminum foil.  Totally submerge silver and boil for 2 to 3 more minutes.  Wipe away tarnish.  Repeat if necessary.  (Do not use this method on antique silver knives.  The blade will separate from the handle.)  Another alternative is to use nonabrasive toothpaste.

Plant sprays

Wipe leaves with mild soap and water; rinse.


Use cedar chips, lavender flowers, rosemary, mint, or white peppercorns.

Flea and tick products

Put brewer's yeast or garlic in your pet's food; sprinkle fennel, rue, rosemary or eucalyptus seeds or leaves around animal sleeping areas.


  • Do not mix anything with a commercial cleaning agent.
  • If you do store a homemade mixture, make sure it is properly labeled and do not store it in a container that could be mistaken for a food or beverage.
  • When preparing alternatives, mix only what is needed for the job at hand and mix them in clean, reusable containers.  This avoids waste and the need to store a cleaning mixture.

Information provided by EPA, and can be found at www.epa.gov 



You must dry it out to get rid of it!

When liquid paint is put in a landfill it could possibly leak into the ground water.  You can prevent this by drying it out.  Drying it outside the can is quicker.

A good method is to line a cardboard box with a heavy plastic garbage bag.  Then fill the bottom of the bag with a  layer of cat litter, oil dry or shredded newspaper.  Then drizzle some of the paint on the absorbent layer and give it some time to dry.  Repeat the next day as needed.  After it is all dry, close and tie the bag and include it with your garbage.