Hidden Hazards

Almost all Missourians use household hazardous products that eventually have the potential to become household hazardous waste.  Ordinary products such as glass cleaner, pesticides, antifreeze and motor oil can be dangerous if handled improperly.  When these products are not used up completely or are no longer wanted by the consumers, and need to be discarded, they become household hazardous waste. Although most hazardous waste generated from a single family dwelling can legally be disposed in the trash, the best practice is to dispose of your waste at a household hazardous waste collection event or permanent collection facilities. 

Here is a list of some common Hidden Hazards you’ll find in your home and environment.  If you come across these hazards tell an adult and let them research how these hazards are disposed of in your community. Visit our household hazardous waste site to learn more.

  • Antifreeze – Close container and place in trash.
    Barrels –These should be handled only by trained professionals. If you find sealed drums, barrels or tanks of unknown contents, call the department’s Environmental Emergency Response staff at 573-634-2436.
  • Batteries – Batteries such as AAA, AA, C, D, watch, button and hearing aid may be placed in the trash or taken to a recycler.
  • Car Battery- Take battery to a battery retailer for recycling. Do not put in household trash.
  • Computers – While most electronics from residences can legally be discarded with household trash, the department recommends exploring other options, like recycling or donating. Visit our E-cycling page for more information about recycling.
  • Glass Cleaner – Close container and place in trash.
  • Brake Fluid – Close container and place in trash.
  • Fertilizer – Close container and place in trash.
  • Light Bulbs –Wrap up and place in trash.
  • Oil – Take to retailer.
  • Pesticides – Close container and place in trash.
  • Paint cans – Close container and place in trash.
  • Plastics – Cut six-ring soda can holders and any other circular items apart and place in trash.
  • Mercury Thermometers – Do not attempt to clean up, tell a parent. Follow the instructions found at on the EPA's thermometer spill page.
  • Tires - Take old tires to a legal or permitted recycling facility. Typically anywhere you buy tires will accept scrap tires for a small fee. Fees will vary for disposal but fines up to 1,000 dollars a day can be incurred for storing scrap tires in violation with solid waste law.

Dispose of household products safely
Household cleaning products and chemicals have many different ingredients, so it is best to check the label or call 1-877-EARTH-911.  Also, many communities hold special collection days or have special drop-off sites for harmful household products. Contact your local trash service for help or visit the Earth 911 page.

Try alternative products when available
For everyday tasks, try household products that are more environmentally friendly. 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 your choice of cedar chips, lavender flowers, rosemary, mint or white peppercorns.
  • Fertilizer: Create a composting area and use the compost in your garden.