Tips on Hazardous Household Waste Part 1: Putting Household Medical Waste, Batteries & Aerosol Cans into the Dumpster

As a homeowner, when you think about dumpster rental, you’re usually anticipating all the things you can throw into them as trash. But, there are some kinds of items found at home that need special attention before they before they go into the dumpster.  This is part one of a two part piece  that includes some tips on disposal of  common household items that need  special treatment before they are thrown into your trash dumpster or recycled. This post covers home medical waste, household batteries and aerosol cans.

 Home Medical Waste

  • Keep medications in their original containers.
  • Leave drug names visible to help identify the contents if they are accidentally swallowed.
  • Cross out other personal information on labels to make it unreadable.
  • Add water or soda to pills to dissolve them.
  • Add inedible material – like cat litter, coffee grounds or dirt to liquids
  • Close the lids and secure with tape.
  • Hide containers in the trash. Don’t put them in the recycle bin (Unless the information sheet that came with the medication says to flush it down the drain.)

Household Batteries

  • Dispose of any alkaline battery (AA, AAA, C and D types) made after 1994 and button batteries (in watches and hearing aids) in the dumpster. (Also stores selling watches or hearing aids will accept used button batteries.)
  • Hold lithium batteries (used in laptops) for household hazardous waste collection days. Don’t put these in the trash dumpster

Aerosol Cans

    • Empty all aerosol containers that do not contain hazardous chemicals. (The can is considered empty when no air released when the nozzle is depressed and the can feels empty when shaken.)
    • Discharge can outdoors into a deep cardboard box or paper bag. Let the box or bag dry before placing in the dumpster.
    • Don’t put full or partially full cans in the trash dumpster. ; They may explode in a trash truck.
    • If your local recycling program accepts (empty) aerosol containers, remove the plastic lid and it in your recyclable container. If not, place the empty container into the dumpster.
    • Empty partially full containers:  The empty aerosol container can then be recycled or disposed.
    • Save all other aerosol containers for a household hazardous waste collection day.

Learn more about how to handle household fire extinguishers and paints in Part II.

Contact your town’s DPW Department for help in assessing your home hazardous waste. For more detailed information visit the Massachusetts Department of Environmental planning or Mass DEP at