Most landfills refuse to regularly accept household hazardous waste, such as cleaning solvents and paint thinner, medical waste, including hypodermic needles, or gasoline, diesel fuels and petroleum-based oils. Some landfills offer periodic household hazardous waste days during which the public is permitted to bring these items.
A general rule of thumb for recognizing household hazardous waste is determining whether a product is toxic or flammable. If it is either of these, it falls into the category. Even on designated household hazardous waste days, landfills do not accept medical hypodermic needles unless they are placed in sharps containers.
Household hazardous waste is found in the average bathroom in the form of cleaners. It is common in kitchens, where it is included in floor-care products, metal polish and insect spray. In the garage, toxic and flammable products include brake fluid, battery acid, gasoline, motor oil, transmission fluid, swimming pool and spa chemicals, coolant, paint and turpentine.
Latex paint can be thrown away with regular household trash, as long as the lids of cans are removed and the contents allowed to dry. Medications are also permitted with regular trash if they are mixed with used coffee grounds and placed in a sealed container.