November 21st, 2011

How to Dispose of Toxic Cleaning Supplies

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green cleaning supplies


Last week we found out that many popular household cleaners have hidden toxic chemicals. Tide Free & Gentle, Simple Green Naturals, Glade Touch Odor, Clorox Clean Up, Bounce Free & Sensitive and multiple air fresheners made the list of products tested and were found to have carcinogens, reproductive toxins, endocrine disruptors and allergens.

We own them, now know they’re toxic and want to get rid of them. What do we do?

After hearing about the report, many Groovy Green Livin readers contacted me letting me know that they were switching to  green,  non-toxic cleaners and some were even attempting to make their own (the greenest option out there!). Now the question becomes what to do with all the old, toxic cleaners taking up unwanted space in our cupboards and cabinets.

Here’s what NOT to do with toxic cleaners:

  • DON’T flush them. Flushing toxins down your toilet could potentially contaminate waterways.
  • DON’T pour them down the drain. These toxins could end up polluting a river, lake or stream.
  • DON’T dump them in your yard. They will end up poisoning plants, animals and you.
  • DON’T throw them away in the trash or recycle bin. It’s actually illegal to throw hazardous waste in with your trash. They will end up in a landfill where they leak into the soil and air.
  • DON’T burn them. This could cause poisonous fumes, a dangerous explosion and air pollution.

Here are a few tips to help you safely dispose of  toxic cleaning supplies:

  • Treat cleaning supplies as hazardous waste. Hazardous waste is any product that is poisonous or toxic, can catch on fire or could mix with other chemicals and cause an explosion or dangerous reaction.
  • Check in with for disposal rules in your area. Just type in your zip and your options will appear. I typed in “household cleaners” and my zip code. A number of  hazardous waste collection programs came up.
  • Many cities and towns have regular collection days or local collection sites that can take the toxics off your hands and dispose of them properly. Contact your local Department of Public Works for more options.

If you want to know what’s in your cleaning supplies make your own!

My favorite ingredients for DIY cleaners are:

  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Tea tree oil
  • Castile soap

What are some of your favorite DIY home cleaner recipes?

[Photo used under Creative Commons from Terrance S. Jones/Flickr]

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15 Responses to “How to Dispose of Toxic Cleaning Supplies”

  1. I hope more people can wake up and realize if you have to treat it as hazardous waste, you shouldn’t be wiping your baby’s high chair with it!

    Something else infuriating about conventional cleaners and their so-called green versions is the fact that — According to the Global Green Brands study, which was released in July 2009, the 10 green brands as ranked by US consumers were: Clorox Green Works, Burt’s Bees, Tom’s of Maine, S.C. Johnson & Son, Toyota, P&G, Wal-Mart, Ikea, Disney and Dove.

  2. The closest place to dispose of these for me is almost 15 miles from my house. And it is only open from the beginning of May through the end of October. I will keep my eye out for a more local event.

    I do not have any of my own recipes to share but I did find an article on the earth911 site that has some additional ideas using some of the ingredients you mentioned.

  3. This is a great post because so many people do not know how to dispose of these products correctly. I have just done a post on making some of your own cleaning products.

  4. Yikes, some people burn their cleaning products? Scary. So far we’ve been lucky here in Toronto to have Community Environment Days where hazardous waste is one of many types of unwanted items residents can hand over for proper disposal. Up until this year, there was one of these events per year per City ward, so 44 in total. In a few weeks Council will be voting on whether or not to scrunch that number down to 11… all in the name of saving money (while destroying the environment). The green shade of our city is fading with our new mayor. :(

  5. Great post Lori. It is good to remember to treat these as household hazardous waste – which is scary as Amity Hook-Sopko pointed out in her comment.
    I LOVE making my own cleaners. I have an all purpose cleaners I use – 2 cups water, ½ cup distilled white vinegar, 1 tsp castile soap, 10 drops lavender, 10 drops lemongrass, 10 drops lemon.
    I use Hydrogen peroxide to disinfect (I just put a spray top on the bottle.)
    I also use a combination or water, castille soap and tea tree oil in a foaming dispenser for hand soap.
    Here are some of my other favorites:

  6. These are great tips. I will admit that in the past, I bought a lot of products that said they were green when they really weren’t and I feel angry about it–I consider myself an educated consumer, and it’s hard to believe that brands are able to misrepresent themselves like that. Anyway, I’ve kept these products under the kitchen sink just because I didn’t know how to dispose of them, so this post is really helpful.

  7. Interesting Amity! Those brands are certainly not green in my eyes. What did the Global Green Brands study use to determine that these brands were green? I agree, frightening to think some of these household products are used on babies and then disposed of as hazardous waste.

  8. I’m surprised there isn’t something closer to you Marsha. It also seems strange that it’s not open year round. I would check in with your city/town to see if they have a local collection date. Hopefully they do!

  9. Thank you Alicia. I’m going to head on over to your awesome blog to check out your DIY cleaning products!

  10. Hi Andrea-I think some people don’t realize how flammable cleaning products are. I’m not sure they intentionally burn them-who knows??!! I’m hoping that Toronto maintains its greeness and doesn’t do away with the number of hazardous waste drop off days. Keep me posted.

  11. Hi Kristina! Thanks so much for sharing your DIY cleaner recipes. I’m going to have to try your all purpose cleaner, it’s a bit different then mine. I like that you add lemongrass and lemon.

  12. Thanks K! It is so frustrating to rely on marketing and then come to find out that the products really aren’t green at all. It’s greenwashing. That’s why the Safe Chemicals Act needs to pass! Hopefully you will be able to find a local drop off spot to dispose of your cleaners.

  13. I use NORWEX microfiber cloths and water for most of my cleaning needs. They offer amazing products!

  14. Thanks for sharing Jennifer. I haven’t tried their products. I use microfiber clothes for cleaning also.

  15. I use 1 part vinegar to 3 or 4 parts water with 1 lemon and some tea tree or lavender drops for surfaces. Then I use 2 parts vinegar to 3 or 4 parts water with 1 lemon essential oil of lemon grass for floors. The lemongrass is very astringent and leaves a fresh scent. These have worked well and the vinegar smell dissipates within minutes. I have an infant so I am not worried about her ingesting trace amounts of toxic chemicals by crawling.

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About Lori

I’m Lori Popkewitz Alper, a recovering attorney and the Founder of Groovy Green Livin. I like to make noise and stir the pot especially when an issue hits home and effects the health of our families. Join me as I make some noise and share along the way tips for living a green and healthy life. Read more.

Click HERE to contact Lori


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