P2 House - Garage/Laundry


Most household hazardous waste is typically used and stored in the garage. You can help prevent pollution by properly maintaining this area and carefully managing activities that have the potential to harm the environment.

Vehicle Maintenance
Changing oil, refilling fluids, changing tires, and washing, detailing or waxing your vehicle generates waste that requires proper handling to ensure a clean and safe environment. To reduce potential harm to the environment:
  • Properly dispose of chemicals instead of releasing them down garage drains, home sinks or toilets
  • Safely collect used oil and filters and dispose at your local household hazardous waste events or collection centers
  • Use biodegradable cleaning agents
  • Purchase only chemicals needed for a project
  • Determine necessary products for projects by keeping an inventory of unused chemicals
  • Contain spills and dispose of waste properly
  • Store raw or waste chemicals properly
Household Hazardous Waste
Common garage items that are considered household hazardous waste include used oil, paints, antifreeze, brake fluids, insect repellants and pesticides. Avoid disposing such items down the drain or in the trash, and consider:
  • Properly managing and collecting household hazardous waste in your garage
  • Looking for punctured or leaking items, such as paint cans, automobile fluid containers and pesticides containers
  • Disposing waste through local household hazardous waste events
  • Donating unwanted items such as paint cans and unused fluids
  • Cleaning up spills immediately
Air Quality
Toxic chemicals can penetrate walls and pollute air in other rooms. Make air quality in the garage a top priority to maintain a healthy and breathable space by:
  • Only turning on your car, motorcycle, lawn mower or other gas-powered equipment outside the garage
  • Keeping paint buckets and chemicals tightly sealed to avoid releasing fumes
  • Opening the garage door for ventilation
  • Immediately cleaning up spills and chemical releases
  • Airing out the garage when spraying for pests
  • Avoiding storing used oil in the garage (properly dispose immediately after an oil change)
  • Avoiding smoking in the garage
  • Keeping combustibles away from heat sources

Laundry Area

Most of us rely on scents to tell us when something is clean, so it seems counterintuitive to purchase a detergent or laundry soap that is unscented, free of dyes or low in suds. But with a little research and courage to try new things, switching to products that contain fewer or no toxic chemicals will benefit your household in the long run.

Detergents and Fabric Softeners
Manufacturers invest a large amount of time and money into designing green products that appeal to consumers looking for environmentally friendly options. However, a “green” label does not mean the product is actually environmentally friendly. In fact, they may still contain ingredients that are endocrine disrupting and hormone mimicking, which can produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological and immune effects in humans and wildlife. In addition, many of these products contain irritants and allergens that can affect skin and lungs. To identify environmentally friendly products:
  • Look for the full disclosure of all ingredients on the label of your cleaning products
  • Determine the source of scents and dyes
  • Find detergents and softeners derived from plants and minerals, such as oils from citrus, seed, vegetables and pine
  • Ensure ingredients are biodegradable and safe for septic tanks
  • Avoid products that are corrosive or contain compounds that cause greenhouse gases or deplete the ozone
Environmentally Friendly Products
When searching for cleaning products, check labels for these words:
  • Biodegradable
  • Non-toxic
  • Phosphate-free
  • Petroleum-free
  • Volatile Organic Compound (VOC)-free
  • Naturally derived
  • “Free and clear” of dyes and perfumes
  • Petroleum-free
  • Surfactant-free

To find safer products for your home, visit EPA’s Safer Choice page | View Now >