Clean Living Masthead New



Last Stop Trash & Recycling


The tour isn't complete without the last step in any cleaning effort - disposing of the empty packaging. Chances are, your trash pile is a lot smaller today than it used to be, thanks to waste reduction and recycling.

Waste Reduction:

A Two-tiered Effort

Waste reduction means cutting down on the amount of materials or energy used during the manufacture, distribution, purchase and use of a product. Waste reduction is an effort in which both manufacturers and consumers have important roles to play.

With the following product and package innovations, cleaning product manufacturers are cutting down on waste before it starts:

  • Concentrates: Sometimes known as "ultras," they deliver the same cleaning performance as traditional versions and use less product. They also reduce the amount of packaging materials used.
  • Refill containers: Use less packaging material than primary containers. They usually don't include convenience features like trigger sprayers or measuring caps, reducing packaging even more.
  • Recycled content: By using 25 - 100% recycled plastic in product bottles and 25% recycled steel in steel aerosol cans, cleaning product manufacturers are providing an important market for the containers that consumers are recycling.
  • Recyclable materials: Containers that can be recycled and made into other products.

As a consumer, you can also practice waste reduction by the actions you take when purchasing and using household cleaners.

  • Buy the right product for the job at hand.
  • Buy only what you can use.
  • Follow label directions: more is not necessarily better!
  • Reuse primary (original) containers in refill systems as many times as possible.
  • Use only the refill product intended for the container.
  • Use up the product, or give it to someone who will.

Product Disposal Guidelines

If you do have to dispose of a cleaning product:

  • Follow label directions, if provided.
  • If there are no directions, follow these guidelines:
    • When disposing of a product, think about how you use it. If it mixes with water, it's water-soluble. Water-soluble liquid and powder household cleaning products can be disposed down the drain with running water - just like when you use them.
    • For other products, such as oven cleaners, crystal drain openers and furniture polishes, call the manufacturer's toll-free number (or write to them) for disposal recommendations, or check with your local waste disposal facility.
  • Just as you shouldn't mix products when using them, be sure not to mix products when disposing of them.

These guidelines are provided by product manufacturers and are consistent with the way products are developed and tested for safe disposal. Some communities have regulations for handling wastes; check your local waste facility and follow their recommendations.

Product Package Recycling

It used to be an effort to remember to recycle. Now, it's not only a habit - in many areas it's the law. But somewhere along the line, it became easier than we ever thought it could be.

Today, different communities approach recycling in different ways. As a general rule of thumb, consult your local waste management facility to see what they accept. Here are the common types of household cleaning containers that can be recycled, if they are accepted in your community:

  • Plastic
  • Paperboard
  • Aerosol Cans

Be sure that the container is empty before recycling.