Department of Public Works

Safe Use, Storage, and Disposal

Many of the products found in our homes are toxic. They can cause serious human and animal health and environmental problems if used, stored and disposed of improperly. The simple practices listed below can help keep your family, home, neighborhood and environment safe.


  • Think carefully before buying a product. Do you really need it? Do you already have something similar?

  • Buy just enough to do the job.

  • Look for a non-hazardous or less hazardous substitute.

  • Read the label and follow use, storage and disposal directions carefully. Watch for signal words such as caution, warning, poison or danger. If directions are unclear, contact the manufacturer or dealer before using.

  • Keep all chemical products and waste out of reach of children and animals.

  • Keep leftover products in original labeled containers so that you can refer to directions for use and proper disposal.

  • Share unused products with others if each product is in its original container with a label.

  • Dispose of household hazardous waste properly by taking it to a collection event near you.

  • Locate auto repair shops and gas stations that recycle used motor oil, antifreeze and batteries.

  • Completely finish products in containers before disposal. Clean, empty containers can be put in the trash. (Note: Some cities will even recycle empty paint cans and aerosol containers.)

  • Triple rinse all containers of water-soluble materials. Use rinse water according to label directions.


  • Do not dump leftover products into the street, storm drains or ground. It is illegal. Illegal dumping carries a minimum fine of $5,000 per day per violation up to $100,000 per day per violation and imprisonment (Section 25189.5, Health & Safety Code).

  • Do not burn used or leftover products or product containers. Burning may produce toxic fumes and contribute to air pollution.

  • Do not bury leftover products or containers in your yard or garden.

  • Do not reuse pesticide or other chemical containers for other purposes.

  • Do not mix chemical products or wastes.

  • Do not put any household hazardous waste in the trash or sink.

  • Do not repackage chemical products in containers that are normally used for food products or soft drinks. Children have died from drinking chemicals stored in soft drink and juice bottles.

  • Do not store corrosives, flammables and poisons together. Separate these containers.

  • Never mix household hazardous materials. Dangerous reactions can occur.

  • Do not smoke, eat or drink when handling household hazardous products.
  • Managed by the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works, Environmental Programs Division
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