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How To Dispose Of Hazardous Waste When Moving House

Hazardous does not always mean heavy industrial chemicals, look around you and you’ll find at least one hazardous item in your room. This does not mean your bathroom and kitchen alone, even your bedroom houses household hazardous waste. Don’t believe us? Right from the nail polish remover on your dressing table to the thermometer in your first aid box is hazardous. Sending this with your movers is not only harmful but also illegal.

You will chance upon such hazardous items while packing up your belongings while moving to a new home. You cannot ship hazardous items nor dispose of them like other belongings because such items act as a threat to the environment when disposed of improperly. Thankfully there are several ways to dispose of them, you just have to be aware of them! We are here just for that, so keep reading:


Household Items That Count As Hazardous Waste

Homes are filled with hazardous items, often people don’t check the ingredients of the products they shop at the departmental store. This is why people end up hoarding lots of hazardous products at home. The longer you stay at your current home, the more hazardous items you’ll encounter around the house. To make things easier for you, let us go room by room. This will help you recollect any items that you miss out on.

In Your Bathroom: While packing up your bathroom items for the move, check the ingredients behind every product. The products that have hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, ammonia, or bleach in them are hazardous. Acids used in some bathroom products are corrosive, they can corrode metal and are very harmful if they come in direct contact with skin.

In Your Kitchen: Almost every other thing under your kitchen sink is hazardous. Drain cleaners, disinfectants, and cleaning products are toxic; they’re harmful if consumed or inhaled. You shouldn’t be emptying such products down the drain, because they can harm the environment.

In Your Garage: The spare cans of gasoline you store in the garage are most hazardous as they can ignite and burn easily. Items like antifreeze, auto batteries, brake fluid, engine cleaner are all hazardous in nature. Even something as basic as a spare tire is harmful because waste tires can catch fire and release toxic smoke. It’s illegal to dump waste tires and is punishable by law in the US, so yes, tires are considered hazardous waste.

In Your Basement: The batteries, paint thinners, furniture polish, or fireworks you store in your basement are considered hazardous items. If you have pets, items like flea powder and tick sprays are hazardous. In addition to that, most aerosol cans like air fresheners are harmful as such substances can explode when exposed to high temperatures or pressures.

By Your Pool And Lawn: The propane tank you use for pool heating can ignite easily. Any pool chemicals you use to clean your pool, the fertilizer, pesticides, weed killers you use in your garden and the herbicides for the lawn are all hazardous. If you have a barbeque grill in your yard, the charcoal lighter fluid can be dangerous as it is highly flammable.

Disposing Household Hazardous Waste

You can’t just dump that hazardous waste in the garbage truck, the toxic substances contaminate resources, pollute the surroundings, and harm the landfill employees. Taking hazardous items like batteries to recycling units doesn’t solve the problem every time. You need to go by the proper method to dispose of toxic waste safely, like taking them to hazardous waste disposal sites.

Your hazardous waste is then detoxified to reduce the release of all the toxic gases and then treated at an incinerator. In some US states, incineration of hazardous waste is directed to produce steam, which drives the turbines for the generation of electric power. Awesome, right? This is surely going to motivate you to dispose of that hazardous waste in the right manner. Let’s see how you can do it:

Research Waste Management Laws In Your Area

Cities and towns within the same state can have different laws when it comes to disposing of hazardous waste. You must research the laws that apply to your area to avoid facing penalties or hefty fines. Just start Googling about the waste management laws in your city/town/county, there will be details about packing and segregating your hazardous waste. If you research well, the contact and location of your nearest hazardous waste collection site will pop up in the searches.

Take Them To Hazardous Waste Collection Sites

Once your search results showed you the nearest hazardous waste collection site, call them up and enquire about drop-off days during the week. When you are packing to leave for the waste collection, never mix the hazardous waste. It can be an extremely dangerous move. For instance, mixing ammonia and bleach causes chest pain and coughing, if things escalate, it can be fatal. Keep all the products in their original containers and secure them against leaking. Going thoroughly through your local area’s official website will help you pack your hazardous waste properly according to guidelines.

Check If A Traveling Wastemobile Visits Your Town/City

If a traveling wastemobile visits your city or town every week, it can save you a trip to the hazardous waste collection site. Check the schedule of the traveling wastemobile that visits your region and keep your hazardous waste ready a day before it is scheduled to arrive. Enquire about which hazardous waste will not be picked by the wastemobile beforehand to save you hassle when it arrives. Wastemobiles pick up wastes like ammonia, antifreeze, batteries, bleach, cleaners, and fertilizers. But some items are not accepted like compressed gas cylinders, ammunition, explosives, medicine, and tires among others.

Keep Track Of Waste Recycling/Disposal Events

Local governments, nonprofit organizations, and communities often host waste disposal events. Keep a track of such events and take your hazardous waste to such events before you move. Just join Facebook groups of communities or organizations that often host such events so you can be updated. You can even ask around the neighborhood if they know of any waste collection events. These are one or two-day events that allow locals to bring their waste to a centralized location.

Ask Your Local Waste Management Company For A Home Pickup

We know moving is tough and takes up all of your time. If you have no time to drive to the waste collection site or attend a waste disposal event, ask for home pickup services. Call up your nearest waste disposal company and enquire about their home pickup services. At a service and labor fee, they provide home pickup of hazardous household waste. Just remember to inquire about specifications, like how to sort your waste and if there are some hazardous items they don’t pick. This way, you don’t mix up items that are disallowed with the rest of the waste you send with them.

Dispose of Medical Waste Smartly

There must be a lot of accumulated medical waste at your home if anyone in the family needs insulin shots or prescription drugs. If your local waste management company refuses to collect it, you can drop it at a mini disposal box outside your nearest pharmacy. If you couldn’t find a disposal box outside any pharmacy, you can dispose of your medical waste in a dropbox outside any hospital, doctor’s office, or clinic. Take all those prescription drugs and hand them over to designated drop-off centers. While disposing of syringes, just remember to store them in puncture-resistant containers before you drop them in a disposal box.

Visit Your Local Gas Station

If you use organic cleaning products and are conscious about using hazardous items in your home, then you might have hazardous waste only in the garage. Rather than making a trip to a hazardous waste collection site, drive over to any local gas station. Some gas stations accept automotive waste, so you can drop your transmission fluid, diesel fuel, or brake fluid at the station. But while doing so, never mix any automotive waste products with motor oil, as doing so can be very dangerous.

Give It Away To Friends Or Donate

You can share your hazardous products like cleaning products, fertilizers, or gasoline with friends or choose to donate it. Institutions like homeless shelters, community centers, schools will appreciate your donations and put them to use. This ensures that the hazardous products in your home were actually used and did not turn to ash in an incinerator.


Safety While Disposing Hazardous Waste

In the hurry to dispose of the hazardous waste before your moving date arrives, don’t forget to take safety precautions while handling them. If you take shortcuts or skip reading the instructions on the labels of hazardous products, it can be quite harmful. There are some safety precautions you need to take while collecting and sorting the hazardous waste around your home to dispose of them.

Handling Hazardous Items

It’s better to wear gloves and goggles while handling hazardous products around the house. Some hazardous items burn the skin on contact or harm the eyes because of the fumes. In case you’re handling diluted cleaning products, then gloves are not an utmost necessity, but do wash your hands after handling any such products.

Following Instructions

Read instructions on labels of hazardous products carefully. Specific instructions like usage steps, precautions while using, and what to do in case of emergency are detailed in labels behind hazardous products. You should also pay attention to storage instructions, since storing flammable liquids in the heat or near direct sunlight can lead to fire hazards. Acids should not be stored or placed closely together.

Remember these details when you’re collecting all hazardous items in the house to carry them to the hazardous waste disposal site. If you have packed them and are waiting for the traveling wastemobile to come, never keep all items on the porch where there is direct sunlight.

Never Mix Hazardous Items

Most of us forget the chemistry we were taught in school, ignoring the properties of some substances can lead to reactions, often unfavorable. An easy way to avoid any accidents while handling hazardous waste is to never mix them. Most chemicals can cause angry reactions or release poisonous fumes when mixed with other chemicals.

Using Hazardous Items In New Home

Once you move to your new home, introspect and decide if you want to shop for new products that are hazardous. A drain cleaner that might look innocent under creative packaging can cause ugly harm to the environment in the long run. Go ahead and buy hazardous items if they are unavoidable like brake fluid. But if you can minimize the use of harmful chemicals at home, like using organic homemade cleaning products over hazardous cleaning products, it will go a long way in protecting the environment. Let’s look at how you can do this:

  • When you are shopping for cleaning products, insect repellents, toilet cleaners, detergents, consider going for environmentally friendly products. Look for natural organic alternatives to the products you shop for, if you don’t find them at your local department store, you can order them online easily.
  • Use simple home recipes instead of chemical products, like vinegar in one quart of water instead of glass cleaner liquids, sprinkling carpets with baking soda instead of a rug deodorizer, using rosemary or mints in place of mothballs, or just using simple tools like plunger or plumber's snake instead of a drain cleaner.
  • Read up and be aware of household hazardous waste and how it can be avoided. There are many videos on the Internet to help you replace hazardous items with DIY homemade products. Aware those around you of the harms of hazardous household waste.


When you dispose of the hazardous waste in your home, you’ll be surprised by the amount of hazardous waste that was lying around your home. See this as the right time to minimize the usage of hazardous products in your life. If you really need to use hazardous materials, take care while disposing of them.


Can I Carry Hazardous Waste In My Car?

It is unlawful to carry hazardous waste in vehicles in many US cities. Like in California, it is unlawful for anyone to transport hazardous wastes in their vehicle. Only the people with a valid registration issued by the Department of Toxic Substances Control can transport such waste in their vehicles. Check the local waste management laws in your city, it will give you a fair idea if you can carry hazardous waste in your car.

Can Any Hazardous Items Harm My Pet?

Pet products like flea powder protect your pet from ticks and fleas, but the harmful pesticides in them can harm your pet as they sometimes lead to nerve damage. Using lawn fertilizers or insecticides in your lawn and garden pose a threat to your pet since pets run barefoot and often roll around on the grass. Mothballs attract the attention of pets due to the curious smell, the fumes can harm pets, ingestion of mothballs can also lead to death in extreme cases.


See also: Things Movers Will Not Move | Avoid Packing these Things When Moving