You're busily cleaning and feeling smug about how much you're getting done in your home. Then you come across Grandma's old-fashioned wall thermometer in the junk drawer, and your day comes to a screeching halt. It's the moment when all your cleaning and organizing plans go haywire: Do you toss it in the trash? Can you recycle things with mercury in them? Or, do you throw it back in storage and forget it for another decade?
What's Toxic in Your Home?
The truth is, that thermometer isn't the only toxic thing you'll encounter on clean-up day. There are plenty of things you use in your daily life that contain some toxic elements: batteries, paint, cleaning products, bug sprays, CFL light bulbs, fluorescent light bulbs from bug zappers and black lights, and many electronics should be taken to designated disposal sites.
Follow disposal instructions on item labels, or check with your local hazardous waste collection facility for instructions. First and foremost, be cautious when you use toxic elements around your home; remove lids from cans of old paint and allow paint to dry in an area that can't be accessed by animals or children. Keep intact batteries, unbroken CFL bulbs, old cleaners, and household pesticides in separate designated containers in your garage or storage shed. This way you can easily access these unwanted items for special community collection days.
Many local governments operate household hazardous waste collection facilities or host special collection events to keep toxic items out of landfills and storm drains. However, you don't always have to trek out to the local agency to get rid of your toxic items. Many retailers collect used household batteries, and CFL bulbs can be taken to most chain hardware stores. When you happen to be dealing with electronics, check out local e-waste collection businesses to get rid of that old Commodore computer monitor.
Don't let toxic household items derail your big cleaning day. Get prepared with disposal bins for each type of item you have and rest assured that, even for toxic items, there's a place for everything.