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Storing,  Using, and Disposing of Household Paint







Storing,  Using, and Disposing of Household Cleansers

Your Home and the Environment

Storing, Using, and Disposing of Household Chemicals

Regulations for disposing of household chemicals vary from place to place, so always check with your local solid waste department first when you have a disposal question. In Minneapolis, for example, there are household hazardous waste stations where you can drop off items. You pay for the service with a city-issued voucher. These stations also run exchange programs so if you need just a small amount of, say paint thinner, you can often find leftovers from someone else's project that you can use.


  • The best solution is to use it up or give it away. Paint the insides of your closets—who cares what color they are! Offer it to the community theater. If you still find you have paint to dispose of, the method depends on the type of paint.
  • Solvent-based products, such as alkyd paint, are seldom allowed in the household trash. Usually you must take leftovers and empty cans to a household hazardous waste site.
  • Cans of dried latex are still allowed into the household trash by most areas. You can leave the lid off until the paint dries, or speed up the process by mixing in cat litter or pouring the paint out onto newspapers (make sure to put plastic underneath).


  • Good old elbow grease can take the place of stronger cleaning products.
  • Try less caustic homemade alternatives made from vinegar, baking soda, borax, and ammonia. You'll find they clean just as well as commercial products, cost less, and do less damage the finish on your furniture, countertops, floors, etc.
  • Recipes for homemade cleaners are plentiful. Look in books, magazines, and online. Here are a few to get you started:
    • Mild vinegar water is great for cleaning cabinets, tile, and hardwood floors.
    • To clear slow drains, put ½ cup of baking soda in the drain followed by a cup of vinegar and several cups of boiling water (great for deodorizing disposers, too).
    • For window washing, mix ¼ cup of ammonia in two quarts of water; if the glass is really grimy, try ½ cup of ammonia, a pint of rubbing alcohol, and a few drops of dishwashing soap in a gallon of water.
    • If you experiment, remember to never mix bleach and ammonia!

Fluorescent bulbs

  • The good news is that fluorescents reduce your electricity usage and that the color of light has been drastically improved over the last few years. You can now find compact fluorescent bulbs to fit almost any lamp or fixture.
  • The bad news is that many fluorescents contain a small amount of mercury. For this reason, spent bulbs can not be put in the household trash in many areas. Call your local utility or solid waste department for information on disposal in your area. In Minnesota, for example, you get a recycling voucher from your electrical utility and take the spent bulbs to a store with an approved recycling program.


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