Spring Cleaning & Household Chemicals


This is the time of year when people engage in spring cleanup chores. Often materials which have sat in garages and basements for extended periods of time are now "rediscovered". While most items pose no risk, it is not uncommon for people to find items they cannot identify, or are in damaged containers. More often people simply don't know the correct way to handle or dispose of items which may pose a risk to others or to the environment. Here are few things to keep in mind when going through your garage or basement during your spring cleanup.




These signal words are a relative indication of the toxicity of the materials involved with DANGER being the most hazardous.

If you need any assistance handling or identifying Household Chemicals call the Yonkers Fire Department at 914-377-7555

Handling Tips For Household Cleaning Chemicals

Storage of Household Chemicals

Flammable liquids such as gasoline should be kept in metal containers with a safety cap and stored preferably in an outside storage shed. Flammable liquids should never be kept in a glass container. If the container is kept in the garage it should not be in the same room as the furnace or hot water heater.

Pesticides and Lawn Chemicals - are generally poisonous and should be kept in a dry area away from children. The label will have one of the three signal words (Danger, Warning, Caution) designating the toxicity level.

CORROSIVES - Acids and alkaline are found all around the house in the form of drain cleaners, tub & tile sprays, battery acids and some pool chemicals. If these materials come in contact with skin and eyes they will cause severe and sometime irreversible damage.

OXIDIZERS - Many of your pool chemicals and some fertilizers are oxidizers. What this means is that it can cause something to burn that might not normally burn. Pool chlorine should be kept segregated from all flammable and combustible liquids.

FLAMMABLE GASES - Such as propane should never be stored inside the house. This flammable gas is heavier than air and can create a severe explosion hazard inside a structure if there is a leak.

Disposal of Household Chemicals

Motor Oil - must be accepted by any service station which changes oil

Car Batteries - must be accepted by Auto parts stores and Service Stations that sell batteries.

Latex & Oil based Paints - may be thrown out in your garbage with the lids off. Paint must be hardened before disposal. Use kitty litter to absorb liquid and / or air dry. Remember to remove the lids so your garbage collector knows the paint is hardened. Liquid paint can damage both the garbage truck and the roads when compacted or spilled.

Asbestos - should only be removed, handled and disposed of by a New York State licensed contractor. Check the Yellow pages.

Propane tanks - tanks that are 20 lb. or larger should be returned to a refilling station for disposal. Check the date on your tank if it is older than twelve years it can not be refilled without an inspection and re-certification. The one pound cylinder when empty can be put out with the recyclables.

Freon - must be reclaimed from refrigerators and air conditioners by a New York State certified Refrigeration Technician before being disposed of. Check the yellow pages under Refrigeration.

Other Household Chemicals such as pesticides, lawn and gardening chemicals, solvents, thinners and other items not listed above must be retained and dropped of at one of the Household Chemical Cleanup Days sponsored by Westchester County. 

Call the Household Chemical Info-Line at (914) 813-5425 for information and a complete list of acceptable and non-acceptable items.

If you are a Senior Citizen or are Handicapped and will have difficulty making these County events call the Yonkers Fire Department for assistance.

If you have any questions or are uncertain about a type of material or how to dispose of it contact the Yonkers Fire Department at 914-377-7555. The dispatcher can put you in touch with one of our Hazardous Materials Specialist who will assist you.

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