Use and Storage of Household Products

What's the problem?

When not used and stored properly, many common chemical products found around the home can be harmful to you, your family and the environment. Rainwater picks up whatever it touches – including oil, soaps and yard chemicals – and can carry these pollutants to local rivers, streams, lakes and Puget Sound. 

Household Image
Household: Household cleaners, chemicals and paints can be harmful to people, pets and septic systems.

Garage/Shop Image
Garage or Shop:
Motor oil, auto fluids and carwash soaps can be carried by rainwater directly to storm drains and local waterways.
Yard/Garden Image
Yard or Garden:
Pesticides can harm beneficial garden life and our health. If used improperly fertilizers can pollute groundwater, lakes and streams.

Solution: Clean Water Starts at Home

The good news is you can protect your family and our community waterways by understanding how to safely use and securely store your auto, garden and household chemical products. View a quick reference guide to learn more.

Know What You Have

Look for the signal word on the product's label. Signal words like CAUTION, WARNING and DANGER indicate how hazardous a product's active ingredients are and provide guidelines for safe handling. Consider using the least hazardous product you can find:

Safer Choice Label
  • Look for safer products:
    • Products with no signal words on the label are the lowest hazard.
    • Household products with the label meet the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) safer products standards. 
    •  is a gardener's guide to choosing safer pesticides and garden products for outdoor home use.
  • Choose the least hazardous product that can do the job.

    Caution Label

Safe Use

  • Buy wisely:
    • Buy only what you need and use it up.
  • Read and follow the label:
    • Practice safe handling instructions for active ingredients listed on the product label.

Secure Storage

  • Prevent spills:
    • Keep containers sealed and upright in a secure location so they won't tip over or leak.
  • Protect from moisture:
    • Prevent exposure to rain, leaks or spills.
  • Keep away from kids, pets and food:
    • Store out of reach in a locked cabinet for added safety.

Easy Disposal

  • Safely dispose of leftover toxic products:
  • Keep in original container: 
    • Read product label instructions for safe disposal of leftover contents. Be certain products are easily identified and can be accepted at the HHW Drop-Off Station.
  • Protect people, pets and the environment:
    • Never dump harsh chemicals, cleaners, paints or unused medicines onto the ground, or into storm drains, sink drains, toilets and septic systems.