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Contact information
For information about managing hazardous waste, contact:
Mike Ellenbecker
Hazardous waste program coordinator
262-884-2342

Household hazardous waste

Assorted household cleaner spray bottles and a toilet scrub brush
Leftover products in any home can pose hazards when not stored or disposed of properly.

Household hazardous waste is any waste product found in your home, yard or garage that can cause harm to human health or the environment when improperly managed.

Household hazardous waste is not subject to Wisconsin's hazardous waste rules unless it is separated from normal household trash for management, but it is still potentially dangerous when stored or disposed of improperly.

This page and the Household Hazardous Waste Management Guide help residents to identify, reduce and safely dispose of household hazardous waste.

Collection and exchange programs

Many household hazardous wastes can be collected or exchanged at community collection or exchange points. To find permanent collection facilities or hazardous waste collection events in your area, you can consult the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection's Wisconsin Clean Sweep program.

You can also contact your local solid waste department for information about additional collection events scheduled in your area.

For more information about how these collection programs work, see the results of a 2013 survey:

Disposal guide

The tables below provide quick reference for how to handle and dispose of individual household hazardous waste items. If you are unsure about whether any part of your waste is hazardous waste or about how to store or dispose of something not listed below, keep it out of the trash and contact a DNR waste management specialist.

Car care

A woman checks the oil of a car with a raised hood
Used motor oil and other automotive fluids are household hazardous wastes.

Car and automotive care

An easy first step is to reduce the amount of potentially hazardous product you buy and keep in your house. Residents can read labels for warnings and disposal instructions and buy only what they can use entirely.

Once you have identified household hazardous waste, check the product label for safe storage and disposal directions.

Household hazardous waste Safe disposal options
Antifreeze

Deliver to collection facility or event for recycling.

For a list of companies that can handle used antifreeze, see the Wisconsin Recycling Markets Directory [exit DNR].

See Managing Used Antifreeze [PDF] for more information.

Batteries (automotive)

Deliver to battery dealer for recycling (for a fee).

See Proper handling of used batteries for more information.

Brake fluid

Deliver to collection facility or event.

See Used Oil Management [PDF] for more information.

Carburetor cleaner Deliver to collection facility or event.
Degreasers Deliver to collection facility or event.
Gasoline and fuels Deliver to collection facility or event.
Motor oil (used)

Deliver to repair shop or oil changer for recycling.

See Used Oil Management [PDF] and/or Recycling motor oil for more information.

Tires

Deliver to tire collection event.

See Waste tires for more information.

Transmission fluid

Deliver to collection facility or event.

See Used Oil Management [PDF] for more information.

Windshield washer Flush with water and pour in a sanitary sewer.

Cleaners

Assorted household cleaner spray bottles
Many regular household cleaning products are household hazardous wastes.

Household cleaners

An easy first step is to reduce the amount of potentially hazardous product you buy and keep in your house. Residents can read labels for warnings and disposal instructions, and buy only what they can use entirely.

Once you have identified household hazardous waste, check the product label for safe storage and disposal directions.

Household hazardous waste Safe disposal options
Cleaner with ammonia*

Flush with lots of water and pour in a sanitary sewer (not a septic system or storm drain).

Consider using a non-hazardous alternative.

Never mix products containing ammonia with those containing bleach.

Cleaner with bleach*

Flush with lots of water and pour in a sanitary sewer (not a septic system or storm drain).

Consider using a non-hazardous alternative.

Never mix products containing ammonia with those containing bleach.

Concrete cleaners (acid)

Deliver to collection facility or event.

Consider using a non-hazardous alternative.

Disinfectants

Flush with lots of water and pour in a sanitary sewer (not a septic system or storm drain).

Consider using a non-hazardous alternative.

Drain cleaner

Read the product label for storage and disposal instructions.

Consider using a non-hazardous alternative, like a plunger or drain snake.

Metal cleaners

Keep sealed and deliver to a collection facility or event.

Consider using a non-hazardous alternative.

Oven cleaners

Read the product label for storage and disposal instructions.

Consider using a non-hazardous alternative, like water and steel wool.

Polish/spot removers

Read the product label for storage and disposal instructions.

Consider using a non-hazardous alternative.

Polish with solvents**

Keep sealed and deliver to a collection facility or event.

Consider using a non-hazardous alternative.

Solvent-containing products are labelled as "flammable," "combustible" or "containing petroleum distillates."

Pool chemicals Keep sealed and deliver to a collection facility or event.
Toilet/tub/tile cleaner

Read the product label for storage and collection instructions.

Consider using a non-hazardous alternative, like baking soda and vinegar.

* Never mix products containing ammonia with those containing bleach.

** Solvent-containing products are labelled as "flammable," "combustible" or "containing petroleum distillates."

Home improvements

An open can of red paint with a brush
Different kinds of paints and stains require different methods for safe disposal.

Paints, stains and homewares

An easy first step is to reduce the amount of potentially hazardous product you buy and keep in your house. Residents can read labels for warnings and disposal instructions, and buy only what they can use entirely.

Once you have identified household hazardous waste, check the product label for safe storage and disposal directions.

Household hazardous waste Safe disposal options
Adhesives/glues, water-based Air-dry or mix with cat litter until solid, then place in regular trash.
Adhesives with solvents**

Keep sealed and deliver to a collection facility or event.

Solvent-containing products are labelled as "flammable," "combustible" or "containing petroleum distillates."

Caulk, grout, putty, spackle Air-dry or mix with cat litter until solid, then place in regular trash.
Floor/wax stripper Keep sealed and deliver to a collection facility or event.
Furniture stripper Keep sealed and deliver to a collection facility or event.
Paint, latex-based Air-dry or mix with cat litter until solid, then place in regular trash. If can is completely clean and dry, you can recycle it.
Paint, oil-based

Keep sealed and deliver to a collection facility or event.

Consider using a non-hazardous alternative.

Paint remover/thinner Keep sealed and deliver to a collection facility or event.
Sealers

Keep sealed and deliver to a collection facility or event.

Consider using a non-hazardous alternative.

Stain, varnish, lacquer Keep sealed and deliver to a collection facility or event.
Turpentine

Keep sealed and deliver to a collection facility or event.

Consider using a non-hazardous alternative.

Wood preservatives Keep sealed and deliver to a collection facility or event.

** Solvent-containing products are labelled as "flammable," "combustible" or "containing petroleum distillates."

Pesticides

Pink and yellow flowers along a manicured lawn
Weed killers and pesticides used on lawns are hazardous when stored or disposed of improperly.

Pesticides, weed killers and poisons

An easy first step is to reduce the amount of potentially hazardous product you buy and keep in your house. Residents can read labels for warnings and disposal instructions, and buy only what they can use entirely.

Once you have identified household hazardous waste, check the product label for safe storage and disposal directions.

Household hazardous waste Safe disposal options
Fertilizer w/ weed killer

Keep sealed and deliver to a collection facility or event.

Consider using a non-hazardous alternative.

Flea spray

Keep sealed and deliver to a collection facility or event.

Consider using a non-hazardous alternative.

Insect/bug killer

Keep sealed and deliver to a collection facility or event.

Consider using a non-hazardous alternative, like snap-traps or chalk lines to keep out ants.

Mothballs

Keep sealed and deliver to a collection facility or event.

Consider using a non-hazardous alternative, like cedar chips or lavender.

Rat/rodent poison

Keep sealed and deliver to a collection facility or event.

Consider using a non-hazardous alternative.

Weed killer

Keep sealed and deliver to a collection facility or event.

Consider using a non-hazardous alternative.

Pressurized containers

The nozzle of an aerosol spray can
Pressurized containers can explode under heat or pressure and should be kept out of regular waste collection.

Pressurized containers

An easy first step is to reduce the amount of potentially hazardous product you buy and keep in your house. Residents can read labels for warnings and disposal instructions, and buy only what they can use entirely.

Once you have identified household hazardous waste, check the product label for safe storage and disposal directions.

Household hazardous waste Safe disposal options
Aerosol cans

Keep sealed and deliver to a collection facility or event.

Consider using a non-hazardous alternative.

Propane tanks (refillable)

Refill at supplier.

If disposing of tank, keep sealed and deliver to a collection facility or event.

Propane tanks (small, non-refillable)

Use entire contents of tank so that it is empty, then deliver to a collection facility or event.

Consider using a non-hazardous alternative.

Single-use all-steel cylinders can be recycled, but they must first be completely empty.

  • To empty a cylinder, take the cylinder outside, far from any open flame or possibility of spark, and screw it to a lantern or stove. Open the valve on the lantern or stove. Attempt to light the lantern or stove and whether or not it lights leave the valve open for several hours to ensure that all of the propane is vented from the cylinder. Failure to follow these instructions may cause personal injury or property damage.
  • After emptying the cylinder the valve can be removed. Similar to a tire stem car valve, the valve is removed from the cylinder by unscrewing it from the fittings with a tire stem tool that can be purchased at an auto parts or hardware store.
  • Once the tank is empty and the valve is removed, the cylinder can be recycled.

Other items

A smoke detector
Smoke detectors contain small amounts of hazardous material and should be disposed of carefully.

Other hazardous materials in the home

The DNR offers information on how to safely dispose of other potentially hazardous household waste items. These include:

Household hazardous waste Safe disposal options
Ammunition/bullets Store in a place free from heat or sparks and consult local law enforcement.
Asbestos

Contact a licensed asbestos handler.

See Asbestos removal for more information.

Empty hazard containers Once completely emptied, containers may be placed in regular trash.
Fireworks Store in a place free from heat or sparks and consult local law enforcement.
Fertilizer w/out weed killer

Use on other plants and planted areas.

If disposing of fertilizer without weed killer, air-dry it or mix it with cat litter until solid, then place it in regular trash.

See Composting for alternative ideas.

Lighter fluid Keep in safe, sealed place, away from heat.
Mercury Keep sealed and deliver to a collection facility or event.
Paint (artist or hobby paint) Keep sealed and deliver to a collection facility or event.
Smoke detectors Deliver to collection facility or event.
Thermometers (mercury) Keep sealed and deliver to a collection facility or event.
Last revised: Wednesday April 12 2017