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Household Hazardous Waste
Household Hazardous Wastes
Hazardous chemical products can be found in almost every home in Nebraska. Such products include antifreeze, bug spray, glue, motor oil, and solvents. A substance is labeled as hazardous if it can catch fire, if it will react or explode when mixed with other substances, or if it is corrosive or toxic. Take a look around your home or garage and you'll find many hazardous substances. They may seem harmless sitting on the shelf or being used properly, but they can be harmful to humans, our pets, the land in which we grow our food, and the water for drinking and bathing. .

Household Hazardous Waste Publications
Keep Nebraska Beautiful, with assistance from the Nebraska Environmental Trust, has published three new household hazardous waste publications. One is an activity booklet for children containing several activities to help them better understand the potential dangers of products that can be found in the home.

Download the HHW Activity Booklet.

The other two are brochures with information on how to properly dispose of various household hazardous wastes and ideas for using less toxic alternatives. We hope you will find these publications helpful. Download the HHW-Proper Disposal brochure. Download the HHW-Less Toxic Alternatives brochure.
Less Toxic Alternatives
There are alternatives to buying hazardous substances. By using the alternatives listed on this Web site, you can help keep toxic wastes out of the environment, save time involved with proper disposal, and save money.
Air Freshener/Deodorizer Floor Polish/Wax
Carpet, Rug & Upholstery Furniture Polish
Cleaners Metal Polishes
Drain Openers Insect Bites
Laundry Products

Air Freshener/Deodorizer

Carpets: Mix one part borax to two parts cornmeal; sprinkle liberally on carpet and vacuum after one hour.

Garbage Cans: Sprinkle baking soda at the bottom of can.

Garbage Disposal: Grind used lemons or peels in the disposal or pour baking soda into the drain.

Litter Box: Sprinkle baking soda on the bottom of the litter pan before adding litter.

  • Leave open boxes of baking soda in refrigerator, freezer, closets and bathrooms.
  • Saturate a cotton ball with vanilla and place in an open container in a room or in an auto.
  • Set out an open container of white vinegar to destroy odors.
  • Simmer cinnamon and cloves or potpourri.
  • Burn scented candles.
  • Fill your favorite vase with fresh-cut flowers.

Carpet, Rug & Upholstery

  • Use a non-aerosol, soap-based cleaner.
  • Clean spills immediately with club soda.
  • Mix a quart of water, a teaspoon of mild liquid soap, a teaspoon of borax and a squeeze of lemon juice or splash of vinegar; apply with a damp cloth or sponge and rub gently; wipe with a clean cloth and allow to dry.
  • To clean a red wine spill, rub a thick layer of salt on the spill. Sponge up after spill has been absorbed.


Coffee Pots: Clean out coffee pots with white vinegar solution.

  • By Hand: Use 1/2 cup of baking soda with a mild dish washing liquid to help cut grease and food.
  • Automatic Dishwashers: Choose a detergent with the lowest phosphate content listed on the package.
General Cleaner: Combine a quart of water with 1/2 cup white vinegar, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, or 1-2 tablespoons of rubbing alcohol.

Grout: Combine 3 cups baking soda and 1 cup warm water; scrub into grout. Rinse well.

Kitchen Degreaser: Use a non-chlorinated powder with a nylon scouring pad or fine steel wool.

Mildew Cleaners: Scrub mildew spots with baking soda or borax, or sponge with white vinegar, or use a paste of lemon juice or white vinegar and salt.

Oven Cleaners: Use an oven cleaner that does not contain lye, or scrub spots with baking soda, salt and water paste.

Painted Wood: Wash with 1 teaspoon of washing soda in a gallon of hot water.

Surface Cleaner: Mix vinegar with salt and water.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner: Scrub with a solution of 1/2 cup borax in a gallon of water for cleaning and disinfecting; clean frequently with a baking soda solution around the rim.

Scouring Powder: Use baking soda or salt, or a non-chlorinated commercial scouring powder.

Drain Openers

To unclog a drain: Pour 1/4 cup of baking soda down the drain, follow by 1/2 cup vinegar. Let sit for a few minutes, then pour a pan of boiling water down the drain to flush.
To help prevent drains from getting blocked: Once a week, pour 1/4 cup of salt down the drain, followed by boiling water.

Laundry Products

To Whiten Clothes: Use a washing soda or non-chlorine bleach.

To Remove Spots and Brighten Colors: Use 1/2 cup of borax in each load.

Detergents: Use synthetic detergent without adding fabric softeners or bleach. Or use products which include washing soda. Washing soda brightens fabrics and costs less than bleach.

To Freshen and Soften Clothes: Add a cup of vinegar or 1/4 cup of baking soda during final rinse.

To Reduce Static Cling: Dampen hands when folding clothes.

Presoaking: Soak heavily soiled items in warm water with 1/2 cup of washing soda for 30 minutes, or rub soiled areas with a mild liquid soap.

Spray Starch for Regular Fabrics: Mix 2 tablespoons cornstarch and a pint of cold water in a spray bottle.

Spray Starch for Delicate Fabrics: Mix a package of unflavored gelatin with 2 cups of hot water in a spray bottle. Test solution on corner of fabric before using. If fabric becomes sticky when dry, add more water.

Floor Polishes/Wax

Vinal Floors: Combine 1/4 cup TSP (trisodium phosphate), 1/4 cup borax, or 1/2 cup white vinegar with a gallon of warm water.

Wood Floors: Use damp mop with a mild vegetable oil soap; dry immediately.

Painted or Finished Wood: Combine a teaspoon of washing soda and a gallon of hot water; dry floor immediately.

Wood Floors (sealed with polyurethane): Clean with 1/4 cup white vinegar and a gallon of water; dry immediately.

Furniture Polish

Finished Wood: Use a mild vegetable oil soap, or combine one part lemon juice with two parts vegetable or olive oil and polish with a clean, soft cloth.

Painted Wood: Mix one teaspoon of washing soda in a gallon of hot water.

Unfinished Wood: Polish with mineral oil.

Metal Polishes

Brass and Copper: Use a paste of lemon juice and salt.

Silver: Rub with toothpaste or baking soda and a soft cloth; rinse and polish with dry clean cloth.

Chrome: Wipe with apple cider vinegar and rinse, or shine chrome fixture with baby oil and soft cloth.

Insect Bites

Bee Stings: Apply a thick paste of baking soda and water or rub with an onion cut in half.

Chiggers: Rub area with a moist aspirin tablet.

General insect bites: To relieve itching, rub area with apple cider vinegar or baking soda paste.

Mosquitoes: Soak bites in salt water, then apply cold cream.
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Proper Disposal
Federal and state laws require businesses and industries to properly dispose of hazardous waste, but what about private consumers? The improper disposal of household hazardous waste is harmful to Nebraska's environment and citizens. Would you pour furniture polish or motor oil into your drinking glass? By dumping hazardous waste down the drain or into the ground, you may be doing just that. Some hazardous wastes can attack the nervous system, and cause cancers and birth defects.
What You Can Do Community Collections
Landfill Safe Down The Drain

What You Can Do

  • Download the HHW Proper Disposal brochure and learn how to dispose of your household hazardous wastes properly. Download the HHW Less Toxic Alternatives brochure to have a handy guide around your home.
  • Use less toxic alternatives for household products whenever possible.
  • Purchase only the amount of product you will use whenever possible, or give leftovers to someone who will use the rest.
  • Read and follow directions on the container for proper use and disposal.

Landfill Safe

The following are items that may be safely disposed of in a landfill. For items such as glue or paint that need to be dried or solidified for disposal, you may spread the waste on newspaper or an old rag. Let the material dry or solidify completely before putting into the trash.

  • Aerosol cans (empty)
  • Fertilizer
  • Oven cleaner (lye-based)
  • Shoe polish
Any of the following items in solidified form only
  • Auto body filler
  • Glue (solvent-based)
  • Nail polish
  • Paint (latex & oil-based)
  • Primer
  • Varnish


Many Nebraska communities have recycling centers or drop-off sites at which household hazardous wastes can be recycled. Some gas stations and auto supply stores will accept fuel, oil, and batteries. Contact your local city or county offices for information on recycling centers in your area or call the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality's Solid Waste Division at (402) 471-4210.

  • Automatic transmission fluid
  • Antifreeze
  • Brake fluid
  • Car batteries
  • Dry cleaning solvents*
  • Fluorescent light bulbs*
  • Freon
  • Fuels (diesel, gasoline, kerosene)
  • Gun cleaning solvents
  • Motor oil & oil filters*
  • Paint thinner
  • Turpentine
*Some areas have limited resources for these materials; check with local recyclers.

Community Collections

Some communities have special collection days throughout the year. Contact your local Keep America Beautiful System affiliate or city or county office for dates or drop-off sites in your community. Old ammunition may be taken to a local fire station or police/sheriff's office. There are 60 collection sites throughout the state participating in our Used Oil Collection Program to take clean used oil and many also accept antifreeze. At some auto supply stores and service stations, you can "trade in" your old car batteries. The following products should be taken to community collection sites or a licensed hazardous waste contractor.
  • Ammunition
  • Antifreeze
  • Automatic transmission fluid
  • Brake fluid
  • Bug sprays
  • Car battery or acid
  • Carburetor cleaner
  • Car wax
  • Engine degreaser
  • Floor-care products
  • Fuel (gasoline, diesel, kerosene, etc.)
  • Fungicide
  • Furniture polish
  • Insecticide
  • Lighter fluid
  • Mercury batteries/thermometers
  • Metal polish with solvent
  • Moth balls
  • Motor oil
  • Paints/primer (auto, model, oil-based)
  • Paint thinner and stripper
  • Rat poison
  • Shoe polish
  • Solvent-based glue
  • Unmixed photographic chemicals
  • Unmixed swimming pool chemicals
  • Varnish
  • Wood preservative

  • Expired medications should be taken to a Pharmaceutical Collection Event or a participating take-back pharmacy. If either of those options are not available in your community, you can take the following steps:
    1. Pour liquid medicine into a sealable plastic bag or container.
    2. If medicine is solid, crush it or add water to dissolve and place into bag.
    3. Add cat litter or used coffee grounds to the bag.
    4. Seal the bag and place it in your household trash.
    5. Remove or eliminate all personal information on the medicine container and recycle where possible.
    For information about the Nebraska Meds program click on this link to their website.

Down The Drain

The following is a list of household items that may be dumped down the drain. However, make sure you run plenty of water down the drain with the items. Dispose of only one product at a time. When finished, rinse empty container and recycle or put it in the trash. Some products, such as expired medicines and some oven cleaners, should not be poured down the drain or flushed if you have a septic tank. Read individual labels to determine if a product will damage septic tanks or check with your local pharmacy about proper disposal for specific medicines.
  • Alcohol-based lotions/perfumes
  • Aluminum cleaners
  • Ammonia-based cleaners
  • Antifreeze
  • Bathroom and drain cleaners
  • Bleach
  • Disinfectants
  • Glue (water based)
  • Hair relaxers/removers
  • Household cleaners (water-based)
  • Oven cleaner
  • Paintbrush cleaner with TSP
  • Paint stripper (lye-based)
  • Photographic chemicals
  • Rust remover (with phosphoric acid)
  • Tub and tile cleaners
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Litter-Free School Zones
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Environmental Education Links
Keep America Beautiful
Keep America Beautiful
Find out what environmental efforts are being made at the national level.
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Ringleader Program
Quest of the Ring Leaders
Have fun while learning about environmental protection by completing this cyber-adventure of the Ring Leader Recycling Program by ITW Hi-Cone. Quest of the Ring Leaders provides environmental education on six-pack rings, closed loop recycling, entanglement, marine debris, and photodegradability in a game-like forum to be used in formal and informal education situations.
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