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Public Health - Seattle & King County

Safe storage of hazardous household chemicals

1.
Why are household chemicals a potential hazard?

Hazardous products are either toxic, corrosive, flammable or reactive. One or more of these properties makes them hazardous. Many products used in the home and workplace contain hazardous chemicals including gasoline, paints (and paint products), batteries, inks, de-greasers, cleaning agents, pesticides, and aerosols. In small amounts these products do not pose hazardous waste problems; however, in an emergency such as an earthquake, spillage of even small amounts of hazardous chemicals may become a threat to health.

Contact your local Poison Control Center for more information

2.
How can I identify a hazardous household chemical?

Look for the signal words Caution, Warning, Danger or Poison on the label. Use a product with either none of these signal words or the signal words Caution or Warning and follow the label directions. Avoid products with the signal word Danger or Poison.

  • DANGER indicates that greater precaution should be taken. Accidental exposure of the eye or skin to the undiluted product could cause tissue damage or the material could ignite if exposed to an open flame.

  • POISON is the strongest indication of a hazard. It can be found on lye, some car care items (e.g., antifreeze), and insecticides. Under "Poison" you might add "Contents of this product are harmful or fatal if swallowed."
3.
Non-toxic alternative chemicals

There are non toxic alternatives available for cleaning your house. The Green Cleaning Kit recipes for cleaning sinks, ovens, drains and toilet bowls, etc can be found at the City of Seattle's Public Utilities website and at Public Health's Green Cleaning page.

4.
Safe disposal information

Call the Household Hazards Line at 206-296-4692 (between 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM, Monday - Friday, except holidays or visit the Local Hazardous Waste Management Program) for information about proper disposal of hazardous household products.

5.
Safe storage

Guidelines for safe storage of hazardous household chemicals:

  • Use non-toxic products.
  • Read the label and follow the directions.
  • Wear gloves and protective clothing if product is harmful when in contact with the skin.
  • Wear goggles if product can harm the eyes.
  • Do not wear contact lenses when working with solvents.
  • Stop using the product if you become dizzy, sick to your stomach, or develop a headache.
  • For proper ventilation, it is best to use chemicals outdoors.
  • Do not smoke when using flammable products.
  • Never mix household products. Toxic fumes or explosions may result.
  • Store compatible products together.
  • See your health care provider immediately if you suspect you have been poisoned or injured due to an exposure to a household chemical.
6.
How can I remain safe when handling chemicals?

Guidelines for safe handling to protect yourself and those around you including pets:

  • Use non-toxic products.
  • Read the label and follow the directions.
  • Wear gloves and protective clothing if product is harmful when in contact with the skin.
  • Wear goggles if product can harm the eyes.
  • Do not wear contact lenses when working with solvents.
  • Stop using the product if you become dizzy, sick to your stomach, or develop a headache.
  • For proper ventilation, it is best to use chemicals outdoors.
  • Do not smoke when using flammable products.
  • Never mix household products. Toxic fumes or explosions may result.
  • Store compatible products together.
  • See your health care provider immediately if you suspect you have been poisoned or injured due to an exposure to a household chemical.