Keep our waterways and drinking water clean by properly disposing of unused household chemicals and prescription medications. 

Careful use and disposal of home toxics is easy, keeps your home safe, and helps protect the Huron River!

Save time and money by planning your projects in advance and purchasing only the products you need to get the job done. You will reduce unwanted home toxics, helping to keep your home safe while protecting the environment.

Learn to identify home toxics

Check labels carefully, including directions for use and words of caution.

Home & Hobby
asphalt or roofing tar
drain cleaners
mildew removers
oil paints
paint thinners and solvents
photographic chemicals
varnishes and refinishers
brake fluid
engine cleaners
motor oil
transmission fluid
Yard & Garden
herbicides (weed killer)

Less is more.

The next time you are tempted to “save money” by purchasing the jumbo-sized container, remember that you will have the long term “cost” of proper home toxics storage and disposal. Follow the manufacturers’ directions for use and do not over-apply home toxics of any kind. You can reduce the likelihood of harm to yourself and environmental contamination by carefully following the guidelines and minimizing the frequency and amount of any applications.

Make a clean sweep.

Use a broom, not a hose, to clean up spills.

Maintain your car.

Repair any automotive fluid leaks right away. Use a drip pan to catch leaks if repairs are delayed. Collect and dispose of fluids from routine maintenance properly (motor oil, antifreeze, brake and transmission fluid). Contact your County Health Department or a local service center if you need assistance.

Store home toxics properly.

Select cool, dry storage areas. Always keep products in the original container. Store solvents outside your home if possible, in a secure storage area. Protect products from freezing when necessary. Check containers periodically for leaks. Make certain animals and children cannot access home toxics.

Dispose of home toxics properly.

Remember don’t dump it if you wouldn’t drink it.

  • Contact your County Health Department for guidelines and household hazardous waste disposal sites.
  • Do not pour toxics down household drains.
  • Do not pour anything down a storm drain or into a ditch.
  • Do not place home toxics in the trash.

Improper disposal of home toxics contaminates ground and surface water, and jeopardizes drinking water supplies.

Do not flush prescription or over-the-counter medications down the toilet or sink.

Don't Flush

Wastewater treatment facilities are not equipped to “filter out” drugs and personal care items.

Protect your drinking water by keeping these products out of our rivers, waterways, and groundwater.

Dispose of them through a “take back” program.

See Michigan’s Household Drug Take Back location map and webpage for more information.


See for details on Washtenaw County’s program and more.

OR wrap containers in duct tape and several layers of plastic bags before putting them in your trash.

Other “take back” programs include:

Livingston County’s Big Red Barrel

Oakland County’s Operation Medicine Cabinet

Reduce Toxics in Your Home

Your grandparents were right! Vinegar, baking soda and elbow grease will clean most of the surfaces in your home. There are safer alternatives to a variety of home toxics.

Mildew remover
Spray undiluted vinegar on surface. Wait 1/2 hour. Scrub with hot water.

Drain cleaner
Put 1/4 cup of baking soda into your drain, followed by 1 cup of vinegar. Repeat if necessary.

Floor cleaner
Mop floors with a 50/50 mix of vinegar and hot water. Let stand for 1/2 hour. Wipe clean with a water dampened cloth or mop.

Scouring powder
Sprinkle baking soda on surface and scour with damp cloth. Rinse. Or… Sprinkle salt on surface and scour with cloth dipped in lemon juice. Wipe clean.

Whitening agent
Instead of chlorine bleach, use Borax with your regular laundry detergent.

Insecticide for ants and roaches
Place a 50/50 mix of Borax and powdered sugar in a shallow dish. Place out of reach of animals and children.

Insecticide spray
Spray plants with a mixture of one teaspoon of liquid dish soap per liter of water. Rinse when insects are dead. Repeat every two weeks. If the plant sprayed is a vegetable plant, make sure to wash vegetables before eating them. Michigan State University Extension has lots of information on alternative pest management or contact your County MSU Extension Agent.

Traditional ethylene glycol antifreeze is highly toxic. It is especially hazardous for children and animals, who are attracted to its sweet taste. Antifreeze made of propylene glycol is safer for children and animals (it has no sweet taste), and safer for the environment (it is less toxic). Plus, it is just as effective as traditional ethylene glycol antifreeze. Propylene glycol antifreeze is readily available at most auto stores and repair shops. If you can’t find it in your area, call Sierra at 1-800-289-7234. Keep out of reach of animals and children.

More Resources

Survey Says?

Go to the RiverSafe Homes Survey, see more tips for your household and order the Washtenaw County Water Resources Riversafe Homes brochure and decal.

Resources for River Friendly Home Care