Safe Use


When using potentially hazardous products in the home be sure to take all necessary safety precautions. After the job is finished, try to reuse or recycle products instead of throwing them in the garbage.

Tips for safe use:

  • Use only what is needed.
  • Read product labels carefully.
  • Use products in well-ventilated areas. If working indoors open windows and use exhaust fans.
  • Do not eat, drink or smoke while using hazardous products.
  • Wear proper safety equipment and protective clothing.
  • Have a working fire extinguisher available.
  • Do not mix products unless directed to do so by the label directions.
  • Do not leave hazardous products unattended.
  • When finished, seal products and refasten all childproof caps.
  • Keep hazardous products up and away from children and pets.
  • Clean up after using hazardous products.
  • Post emergency numbers near your telephone.
  • If pregnant, avoid any potential exposure to toxic chemicals.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

PPE is important when using hazardous materials in the home. The type of PPE you need depends upon the type of hazardous material you will be exposed to or the physical danger you will encounter. If a hazard is minor, minimal protection is required. As the danger from a hazardous material increases, so does the required level of protection. Consider the following PPE when working with hazardous products:

  • Body protection: Protective clothing such as aprons, coveralls, splash suits, and fully encapsulating suits.
  • Ear protection: Ear plugs or earmuffs.
  • Eye protection: Wraparound safety goggles should be worn to protect the eyes from chemical splashes, mists and vapors, and to protect the eyes from scratches or cuts from metal burrs, rocks, or other flying matter. Standard eyeglasses do not provide adequate protection from hazardous chemicals or flying matter.
  • Foot protection: Foot covers for less dangerous jobs, chemical resistant boots for more hazardous jobs.
  • Hand protection: Always wear gloves. Nitrile (synthetic rubber) gloves are effective protection against most household products and chemicals.
  • Head protection: A hard hat is worn as the basic safety equipment for head protection. Attachable face shields provide added protection.
  • Respiratory protection: Particle masks for protection from dust; respirator for products that can produce vapors, fumes, or mists.

  • Reuse & Recycle


    Many hazardous or toxic household products can be reused or recycled. This includes donating leftover products to other residents or organizations that may have use for them. Considering reuse and recycling options before disposal can help conserve natural resources, save landfill space and keep harmful chemicals out of our environment and community.

    Some hazardous household products such as working computers, electronics and small appliances can be donated to local organizations like Goodwill. Other hazardous household products such as lawn and garden fertilizers and camping-size propane cylinders can be shared with family, neighbors and friends. When donating or giving away, hazardous household products should always be kept in the original container with a readable label. This helps ensure proper use and disposal.


    Hazardous household products that do not have a reuse option can often be easily recycled at local businesses. This includes used oil, mercury-containing products like CFL bulbs, rechargeable batteries, fire extinguishers, cell phones, toner cartridges and gas-grill sized propane tanks.

    Latex Paint

    Latex or water-based paint is often assumed to be hazardous. While this might be true for older latex paint sold 20 years ago, newer latex paint is not considered dangerous when used according to the label instructions. Good useable latex paint can be locally donated to EcoStores Nebraska or Habitat for Humanity ReStore. School theater departments, childcare centers and non-profit organizations might also have a need for useable latex paint. Unusable and unwanted latex paint can be safely disposed of at home once dried. For more information on latex paint see our Managing Household Paint brochure.

    To find local reuse & recycling options see the Waste Reduction and Recycling Guide. For further information on reuse & recycling, visit our resource page

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