Cleaning and Chemicals

Learn more about how to store household chemicals and dispose of unwanted chemicals and hazardous wastes.

See also: Disposing of Household Hazardous Waste

Household Chemicals 

We use chemicals at home every day: from fuels and cleaners to pool chemicals and garden sprays. They are very useful but can be harmful if we store or dispose of them inappropriately.

Many of the household cleaners, detergents and pesticides used in and around your home may be classified as hazardous substances. That means they are potentially dangerous to you, your family and the environment. Chemicals need to be carefully stored and used to avoid harm.

Hazardous substances you may find around your house could include things like:

  • Bleach;
  • Cleaning products such as detergents;
  • Antiseptics and antibacterial products;
  • Pesticides such as rat poison, insect repellents and fly sprays;
  • Swimming pool chemicals such as chlorine.

Alternatively you can purchase non-hazardous cleaning products which do not harm the environment.

How Can You Tell if a Substance is Hazardous?

Information provided by the manufacturer, supplier or retailer (typically a label on the package or container) should tell you:

  • If a substance is hazardous;
  • What its hazardous properties are;
  • How to dispose of it properly or where to find that information;
  • Contact details for the manufacturer or the supplier.

There may be additional information (for instance, in the package or attached in a plastic sleeve) depending on its type and degree of hazard.

Storage and Use

For most products you use at home, you should be meeting the requirements of the law and protecting the environment and your family, providing that you follow the instructions on the label and packaging on how to use and store the products.

Here are some good storage tips:

  • Store hazardous substances in a dry place away from extreme heat, cold, sources of combustion and away from drains;
  • Ensure containers are labelled clearly and correctly;
  • Don’t store household chemicals in old soft drink or milk bottles;
  • Check containers regularly to ensure that they are not corroded, rusted or leaking;
  • Ensure lids are kept on all storage containers and that containers are rigid, durable, corrosion resistant, watertight and rodent-proof;
  • Store oil on an impermeable surface such as concrete;
  • Store solvents, which are flammable, away from sources of ignition;
  • Swimming pool chemicals require particular care and should be stored away from sources of ignition such as electrical sparks, sparks from tools, naked flames or flammable substances e.g. petrol and oil.

Disposal of Household Chemicals

  • Don’t dispose of leftover or unwanted chemicals down the sink, toilet or stormwater drain.
  • Don’t mix old chemicals together as this will make it hard for them to be reused or recovered.
  • Some transfer stations and resource recovery parks have dedicated areas for receiving waste household chemicals.

Disposing of Household Hazardous Waste