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Posted on: May 3, 2023

Household Hazardous Waste

Many household products contain the same chemicals as strictly regulated industrial wastes and pose similar environmental and health problems. Although the quantities of chemicals disposed of by individual households may be small, the number of households in Minnesota are many, and the amount of waste adds up.

Some of the products used in the home, garage, workshop, yard, and garden can be considered hazardous.  These products can contain components which have corrosive/caustic, explosive/reactive, flammable, irritant, toxic or radioactive properties.  These products include: paint and decorating supplies; solvents and cleaning products; herbicides and pesticides, lawn care products, and automotive products.  Household hazardous waste (HHW) is that portion of a household product which is no longer usable, leftover, or not wanted and has to be discarded or disposed. 

The best way to learn what is hazardous is to read the product label. The labels contain signal words, which tell how hazardous the product is. (Signal words represent the hazard of a product, not its proper disposal.­) Signal words and what they mean:                                                 
> Caution: mildly/moderately hazardous 
Warning: moderately hazardous
Danger: extremely hazardous
Poison: highly toxic                                                                   
 > No signal word: The product is probably not hazardous; however, the product may be too old; if produced before 1987  
     to have a signal word even if it is hazardous.

 For everyday tasks, try household products that are less harmful.  Remember to follow the same rules about storing these products and never mix these products together.

 > Glass Cleaner:  Mix 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice in 1 quart of water.

> Toilet Bowl Cleaner:  Use a toilet brush and baking soda or vinegar.  Note: these clean but do not disinfect.

> Furniture Polish: Mix 1 teaspoon of lemon juice in 1 pint of vegetable oil.

> Rug Deodorizer: Sprinkle liberally with baking soda and vacuum after 15 minutes.

> Plant Spray: Wipe leaves with mild soap and water and rinse.

> Mothballs: Use cedar chips, lavender flowers, rosemary, mint, or white peppercorns.


The average home can have as much as one hundred pounds of environmentally harmful products in the basement, garage, and other storage areas.  Make sure yours is safe.

 For information on household hazardous waste disposal please contact Tri-Country Solid Waste at 507-237-4321 or visit the website at

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