Wheels For Wishes Home

How To Properly Dispose Of Household Chemicals While Spring Cleaning

February 22, 2016

Now that spring is just around the corner, most of us are ready to begin the season by decluttering and downsizing for a fresh start. It can be refreshing to clean out your closets and get rid of household clutter you've been hanging onto. 

However, one part of spring cleaning that's not so easy is dealing with old cleaning supplies, electronics, garage waste and other items that you can't just throw in the trash. Getting rid of these items responsibly takes a little extra effort, but it's incredibly important. Here's how to handle eight common items in your spring cleaning.


With new versions of TVs, phones and computers coming out every few months, people are bound to accumulate a stash of old electronics. Old computers, chargers, phones and cables might seem useless, but they can't just be thrown in the trash. In fact, most states have laws against it.

Fortunately, many retailers that sell electronics also have take-back programs that allow you to bring old electronics to the store or mail them to the manufacturer. You can also check with your municipal solid waste service to see if they are hosting any electronic recycling events this spring. Another option is to take your items to a local e-cycling company.

Paint And Wood Stain

No matter how well you plan, you will always have a dab of paint left over from any project. Paint and wood stains can actually last for up to 15 years if they're properly sealed and stored. If you have leftover paint or stain from a recent project, it's good to keep it on hand in case you need to make any touch-ups.

For paint that you know you don't want or need anymore, consider dropping it off at a nonprofit that provides materials for remodeling and construction, such as Habitat for Humanity. Dried up paint, on the other hand, may be accepted at local home improvement stores such as Lowes. Household Hazardous Waste collection events should also take paint.

Fluorescent Light Bulbs

Because of the small amount of mercury that they contain, fluorescent light bulbs need to be disposed of properly. Local hardware stores may have a collection bin for burnt out bulbs, but manufacturers may also have a mail-back program.


Many people toss batteries in the trash, but they contain harmful chemicals and can actually be recycled. Some municipalities will have drop-off locations for batteries, but you can also check with your trash provider or local retailers such as Best Buy, Home Depot, RadioShack or Target.

Cleaning Supplies

Part of your spring cleaning project could include getting rid of hazardous cleaning products in favor of natural or homemade products. Most household cleaning supplies contain harsh ingredients that shouldn't just be tossed in the trash. Check the back of each bottle to see if there are disposal instructions.

Many liquid, gel or powder cleaners can be disposed of in the same way that the product is used, such as down the drain. Plastic bottles and aerosol cans can often be recycled when empty. Products with hazardous chemicals like oven cleaners should be taken to a local waste disposal location.

Fertilizer And Garden Chemicals

Garden chemicals should be brought to your local household hazardous waste event. Stores that sell garden supplies might also accept fertilizer and other chemicals. You can also check with people you know to see if they might have a use for garden chemicals. Never dump them down the drain or in a storm drain, as this is illegal.


Medication should never be flushed down the toilet or thrown in the trash intact. When it goes down the drain, medication can contaminate the water supply and groundwater. In the trash, intact pills can be found and used.

The best option is to save expired or unused medication in a safe place until the next "clean sweep" or medication take-back program in your area. Most towns or counties will host at least one such event a year. If no other option is available to you, crush unused medication, mix it with dirt, kitty litter or used coffee grounds, and seal it in a container you're throwing away.

Automotive Fluids

Cleaning out the garage can sometimes be the dirtiest and most challenging task of spring cleaning. If you have any used oil, antifreeze, other fluids or oil filters, you can often take them to a household hazardous waste collection event. Local car repair shops may also have programs, but there may be a fee to drop off fluids. Car batteries can often be brought back to the retailer that you got your battery from.

If you decide it's also time to get rid of an unwanted vehicle, Wheels For Wishes can help! We accept all makes and models of vehicles in nearly any condition. We even offer free towing and you receive a tax deduction for your donation. If you have a car to donate, please give us a call at 1-855-278-9474 or fill out an online car donation form today!

Tips For Recycling Anything

The EPA website and earth911.com both include information on where to take hazardous waste and other obscure items that are hard to dispose of. You should also keep an eye out for flyers or ads about local collection events. Spring is a popular time for municipalities to host cleanup events for waste or clean sweeps for old medication. Local nonprofits may also appreciate receiving leftover cleaning supplies, usable paint, slightly outdated computers and other items. Just make sure you check ahead of time instead of dropping off items they might not want. 

Excellent 9.3 out of 10
CDF also runs the following programs:
Wheels for Wishes benefiting Make-A-Wish®, Wheels for Wishes & Wellness benefiting local children's hospitals and charities, Vehicles for Veterans benefiting disabled veterans, and Animal Car Donation benefiting animal rescue organizations.

Read More
CDF's mission is to help these benefitting charities fulfill their missions with proceeds from CDF's car donation programs. CDF and all benefitting charities are separate and unaffiliated 501c organizations.
© 2009 - 2024 Wheels For Wishes (Car Donation Foundation)
A federally registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization