How can you tell if a product or chemical is considered household hazardous waste (HHW) in California? The state considers many factors when classifying waste, including toxicity, environmental hazards, flammability, reactivity, and corrosivity.
Unfortunately, there is no master list of household hazardous products created by the state or federal government. We must use common sense and look for warning labels on products to make our best judgment. Please err on the side of caution. If you suspect a product of being hazardous, treat it that way.
Common Label Words that Indicate Possible Household Hazardous Waste
Product warning labels can give us important clues that a product may be hazardous. Common warnings associated with HHW include:
- HARMFUL WHEN SWALLOWED
If you need help determining if a product in your house is a hazardous waste and cannot be disposed of in the trash, email or call us at 916-461-6730.
Here are some examples of common household hazardous products that are acceptable in our program and must not be disposed of in the regular trash:
- Brake fluid
- Paint: oil-based, water-based, and latex
- Flammable paint thinner, deck stains, varnish, lacquer, shellac, and water repellants
- Motor oil, transmission fluid, oil and fuel filters
- Compressed gas cylinders: propane less than five gallons or pounds, fire extinguishers, helium, oxygen
- Batteries (all types)
- TVs and computer monitors
- Household aerosols
- Fluorescent lamps, compact fluorescents, metal halide, high-pressure sodium (incandescent lamps can go in the trash)
- Fats, oils, grease, fryer oil (please do not put down the drain)
- Electronics (Including, but not limited to VCRs, DVDs, amplifiers, printers, CPUs, computer accessories, and scanners.)
- Mercury-containing devices, mercury thermostats, thermometers, switches
- Chlorinated or solvent-based cleaners and degreasers
- Oxidizers (tree stump removers, ammonium nitrate fertilizer)
- Lead scraps
- Drain cleaner
- Paint strippers
- Wood preservatives
- Floor and furniture cleaners and polishes
- Gopher baits and gassers
- Pool chemicals
- Poisons and foggers
- Chlorine bleach or chlorine-based cleaners
- Ammonia-based cleaners
- Household degreasers
Please limit the quantities for each pickup to a combined total of five gallons of antifreeze, five gallons of used motor oil, and 10 one-gallon cans, and two five-gallon pails of paint or paint related material.
In addition to these quantities, other types of HHW should not exceed a total of five gallons or 50 pounds, plus 125 pounds of Universal Waste.
- Pharmaceuticals: Over the counter and prescription medications are accepted (except controlled substances).
- Controlled substances: Find locations for the proper disposal of Controlled Substances.
- Sharps, hypodermic needles, lancets: These items can be properly disposed of by dropping them off at one of our Sharps Take Back program locations.
We cannot accept the following:
- Business, commercial or industrial hazardous waste
- Large compressed gas cylinders (greater than seven gallons)
- Biological or infectious waste
- Sharps, hypodermic needles, lancets, medical waste (except pharmaceuticals)
- Explosives (fireworks, ammunition, black powder, blasting caps, marine flares)
- Radioactive waste (ionizing smoke detectors, Tritium signs)
- Asbestos (friable and non-friable)
- Solar panels
- Leaking containers or containers larger than five gallons
- Non-hazardous waste (tires, large and small appliances)
- Treated wood waste
- We do not accept empty containers. Completely empty containers with no substantial free liquid in them (e.g., less than a tablespoon) are considered non-hazardous and should be disposed of in the trash or recycling bin depending on the container material type. Leave the lid or caps off. Dispose of all lids and caps in the trash bin.
- Use our online Waste Wizard tool or call the Solid Waste Division at 916-461-6730 to find out if a particular container type (glass, plastic, metal, or fiberboard) can go in your blue recycling cart.