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How to Safely Store Household Hazardous Waste at Home
How to Safely Store Household Hazardous Waste at Home Image

If you’ve recently done some spring cleaning and are wondering what to do with your unwanted Household Hazardous Waste (HHW), we’ve got some answers! Out of an abundance of caution during the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of LA’s SAFE Centers are currently closed. We are asking residents to store their unwanted HHW at home until our SAFE Centers can safely re-open. For the most up-to-date information on when they will re-open, as well as their locations and opening times, we advise that you check the SAFE Center page.

Please do not place your unwanted HHW in any of your city-issued black, blue, or green bins or leave them outside the gates of a SAFE Center. 

Here are answers to questions you may have about storing Household Hazardous Waste safely in your home:

Where Should I Store HHW?

  • Store HHW out of reach and out of sight from children and pets. This can be a location that is not typically accessed, such as tall shelves in a garage, or a locked cabinet in the kitchen.
  • Follow the storage directions on the container of your product. Some products should not be allowed to freeze, others should be kept away from sun exposure, heat, flames or sparks. The product’s container will have storage instructions from the manufacturer. Follow those storage instructions carefully. 
  • Keep emergency numbers easily accessible in the areas of your home where you store HHW. In emergencies, call 9-1-1. For fast, free and expert help about poisonous and toxic substances, call CalPoison 24/7 at (800) 222-1222. 


How Should I Store HHW?

  • Keep HHW products in their original containers with labels intact and legible. Labels will ensure you know what is in each bottle. This will also help SAFE Center employees sort your products when SAFE Centers re-open.
  • Containers should always be tightly sealed. Spills or leaks can be absorbed with kitty litter or rags. Those absorbent rags or materials should also be stored out of reach of children and pets and taken to a SAFE Center for disposal. Never place them in the trash. 


What Should I Avoid Doing?

  • Avoid storing products in food containers. This could lead to accidental ingestion of the product. Without a product’s original packaging, it also means you may not know what product was ingested and you won’t have valuable information often required by many emergency and poison control hotlines in the event of an emergency.
  • Do not mix any leftover products. Mixing HHW can cause dangerous and lethal chemical reactions. It can also prevent products from being recycled. 
  • Never smoke while handling HHW products. This is especially important for products labeled ‘flammable’.


I’ve heard rumors that I CAN recycle my unwanted E-Waste during COVID-19. Is this true?

Yes! E-waste may be scheduled for curbside collection by LA Sanitation and Environment crews. Call (800) 773-2489 to schedule the pick up of your unwanted e-waste. 

For more information and tips on safe HHW storage, check out the resources provided by the EPA and FEMA. For up-to-date information, please refer to our SAFE Center page.

Spring is a great time to sort through HHW and decide what needs to stay or be disposed of properly. COVID-19 has made this process a bit more complicated than usual, but if you follow the tips outlined above, you’ll be ready to go once LA’s stay at home order is lifted. In the meantime, thanks for doing your part to protect your family and our environment!

Have you ever used one of LA’s SAFE Centers? Let us know about your experience at lastormwater@lacity.org


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