“What Can I Do” Sustainability-Chemical Choices and Disposal, by American Cleaning Institute


A step-by-step guide to buying, using and disposing of household cleaning products – the environmentally smart way

00wcidoIt’s all about choices… and doing what’s best for the environment — a goal that’s important for all of us! One area where each of us can make a positive contribution is in the way we purchase, use and dispose of cleaning products. And it all boils down to one simple question…

“How can I do the right thing in my own home, every day?”

The following steps are designed to help you make the best decisions about cleaning products for your family, your community and the environment.

01wcido  1. Before you buy…

  • Think about the cleaning job at hand.
  • Read product labels carefully.
  • Choose the product that is best for your job.
  • Buy only what you can use.
02wcido 2. Before you use…

  • Read the label and follow directions for proper use.
  • Follow all safety precautions.
  • Use the recommended amount. More is not necessarily better!
03wcido 3. After you use…

  • Read the label and follow directions for proper storage.
  • Keep lid tightly closed. If there is a child resistant closure, use it!
  • Keep product in original container with readable labels.
  • Share any product you can’t use with a friend or neighbor.
04wcido 4. If you must dispose of a product…

Follow label directions if provided. If there are no directions:

  • Think about how you use the product. If it mixes with water it’s water-soluble. Most liquid, gel and powder water-soluble household cleaning products can be disposed of down the drain with running water – just like when you use them.
  • Most solid products (soap scouring pads, sticks, towelettes, etc.) can be placed in the trash.For other products (such as oven cleaners, crystal drain openers and furniture polishes) call the manufacturer’s toll-free number (or write to them) for disposal recommendations, or check with your local waste disposal facility.
05wcido 5. When you dispose of the containers…

  • Empty any unused product (see #4).
  • Check with your Community Recycling Center to see what type of plastic, paperboard and metal containers they accept.
  • Refer to local guidelines for recycling plastics, paperboard and aerosol cans (steel and/or aluminum).


Proper Disposal of Water-Soluble Household Cleaning Products




In the Trash … (aerosols, crystals, disks, pads, pastes, sheets, sticks, towelettes)

  • Laundry Products
  • Fabric Softeners
  • Stain Removers
  • Dishwashing Products
  • Rinse Agents
  • Household Cleaners
  • All-Purpose Cleaners
  • Bathroom Cleaners/Disinfectants
  • Carpet/Upholstery Cleaners
  • Drain Openers
  • Furniture Cleaners
  • Glass Cleaners
  • Oven Cleaners
  • Toilet Bowl Cleaners

Wrap containers in paper before disposing in the trash.


Down the Drain … (liquids, powders*, gels)

  • Laundry Products
  • Bleaches
  • Detergents
  • Fabric Softeners
  • Presoaks, Prewashes
  • Water Softeners
  • Dishwashing Products
  • Automatic and Hand Dishwashing Detergents
  • Film and Spot Removers
  • Rinse Agents
  • Household Cleaners
  • All-purpose Cleaners/Cleansers
  • Ammonia
  • Baking Soda
  • Borax
  • Carpet Cleaners
  • Disinfectant Cleaners
  • Drain Openers
  • Floor/Furniture Cleaners
  • Glass Cleaners
  • Multi-Surface Cleaners
  • Toilet Bowl Cleaners
  • Tub/Tile/Sink Cleaners
  • Personal Care Products
  • Hand/Body Soaps

When disposing of cleaning products:

  • Flush with water
  • Do not mix products

* Dispose of powders in very small quantities at a time. This will help keep them from forming lumps in the drain pipe.


Did You Know?

Your community may spend a lot of money when disposing of household hazardous waste (HHW). In general, HHW costs 10-15 times more to dispose of than non-hazardous municipal waste! If you’re disposing of non-hazardous materials in this way, it may be affecting your tax dollars.

Water-soluble household cleaning products (HCP) usually do not fall into the HHW category because they go safely down the drain or in the trash. So, think before you treat them as HHW — you’ll be saving your community money!

Start Out on the Right Foot…

Cutting down on trash at the source.

We all want to conserve resources and keep waste to a minimum. It’s called waste reduction – cutting down on excess products and their packages at the source.

The soap and detergent industry has been working hard to conserve resources and reduce waste. We’ve developed such innovations as concentrated products in smaller packages … combination products (providing two functions in one product) … refillable containers … and we’re also using recycled materials to make new containers. In fact the industry has become one of the biggest purchasers of recycled plastics, giving new life to the plastics you recycle!

Here’s where you come in. By buying concentrated products, refills or containers made from recycled materials – and by recycling your used containers – you’re keeping excess trash out of landfills. It’s partnerships like these that will provide the long term solutions. And, by working together, we’ll all be doing what’s best for our environment.

Follow the Steps to Smart Use and Disposal

“Thinking Green” is a daily journey! By making informed decisions before, during and after product use, you’re on your way to doing the right thing for yourself and your community. And remember, the key to smart use and disposal is reading the label! It’s the single most important thing you can do to make the right decisions.

Thank you American Cleaning Institute!




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