Image of woman spraying a window with cleaner from a spray bottle

Ask an expert: How do you get rid of conventional chemical cleaners safely?

Last Updated: June 4, 2021

Find out how to safely dispose of old conventional chemical cleaners from Lead Grove Guide Angela Bell after you make the switch to green cleaning products and plastic-free packaging.

So you’re looking to turn over a new leaf and leave the conventional cleaners behind, but you’ve still got all those old bottles taking up space under your sink with nowhere to go.

We’ve heard your call, and we’re here to help! Here’s all the info you need to get rid of your commercial cleaners safely — and some fun ideas for repurposing old packaging to boot!

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Here at Grove, we're big believers in saving the planet with science — and without sacrificing products' effectiveness. To break down how natural and sustainable products manage to stack up against the competitors without questionable chemicals, we're grilling our scientists, doctors, and fellows for easy-to-understand primers and explanations on how products work.

But first, why should you switch to natural cleaners?

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Many conventional cleaning products are loaded with toxic ingredients that have been associated with skin and eye irritation, respiratory issues, hormone disruption, and even some cancers — and they pose a grave threat to wildlife and the environment.

Lower your carbon footprint, protect your health, and amp up your cleaning game by ditching the dirty chemicals and making the switch to green cleaning products and plastic-free packaging. It’s a quick and easy way to reduce chemical waste and make your home a healthier place for you and your family.

Here's Lead Grove Guide Angela Bell's switching tip: “Remember, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Don’t despair if your green budget isn’t ready for a complete overhaul! When I switched to natural, I was a college student without much expendable income. When a conventional cleaner ran out, I replaced it with a natural option and dabbled in DIY when strapped for cash.”

“I love to use multipurpose [cleaners] whenever possible, rather than a unique cleaner for all my surfaces. It is easier on the wallet initially, if you are switching over from conventional and it means toting around fewer bottles from room to room on cleaning day! Many multi or all-purpose cleaners are appropriate for most sealed surfaces; just be sure to check the instructions and test in an inconspicuous area first!”

Which ingredients should you avoid in conventional cleaners?

Keep an eye out for these ten common toxic chemicals in your conventional cleaners, and swap those products out for natural cleaning products that contain plant and bio-based ingredients first.

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Angela Bell's Grove Tip

Ditch the ingredients all together

“I love to use a simple, microfiber cloth to reduce the need for cleaners. I use a dry microfiber cloth to trap dust, pet hair and dander and a wet microfiber cloth to scrub surfaces. The small fibers are really good at lifting away dirt and grime!”

How to throw away chemical cleaners

Some of your bottles might not be totally empty yet and that’s okay — we’ve got tips for safely disposing of your old conventional chemical cleaners. The most environmentally conscious and economic way to get rid of old cleaners is to use them. But if you’ve got your green cleaning arsenal ready and you’re raring to go, you can donate your commercial products to a friend or organization in need.

If you need to throw away old chemical cleaners, here are tips of how to dispose of them safely.

To dump or not to dump

Most conventional cleaning products, from all-purpose sprays to window cleaners are water-soluble and designed for compatibility with a wide variety of wastewater and septic tank systems. Using up your old cleaners is ideal, but more often than not, it’s okay to dump them down the drain, although they’d be better put to use cleaning!

Recycling aerosol cans

More and more communities are accepting aerosol cans as part of their recycling programs. If your aerosol cans are empty — as in they no longer spray product — they’re typically okay for recycling. Check the can for recycling instructions, then contact your local recycling coordinator for details.

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What about hazardous waste collection?

Household cleaners don’t typically contain hazardous ingredients in the amounts that would have an adverse effect if tossed in the trash or dumped down the drain. Although it’s always best not to introduce chemicals directly into the environment or pour them down the drain, most commercial cleaners are made for safe disposal in home waste systems.

But here’s a list of common household cleaners that do warrant a trip to your local hazardous waste collection.

  • Drain cleaner
  • Silver polish
  • Pesticides
  • Mothballs
  • Chlorine bleach
  • Oven cleaners
  • Nail polish remover

Angela Bell's Grove Tip

What can actually be recycled?

“My local recycling center has an amazing app that allows you to check how to best recycle, compost, or dispose of specific packaging. Some conventional and natural brands (like Tom's of Maine and Mad Hippie) have partnerships with specialty recycling companies like Terracycle, where you can mail in harder to recycle packaging like mixed plastic pouches.”

Creative ideas for reusing old packaging

It’s easier than you think to reuse empty bottles and containers in new ways. Rinse them well, and make these fun crafts with the kids!

Painted hanging planters

Cut the tops off of your empty bottles and give them a glow-up with paint and plants. Cut holes in the rim and string yarn through to create fun hanging planters.

Cool cap art

Save all the bottle caps from your old cleaning products to make nifty mosaics and colorful wall art by hot gluing the rims to your chosen surface.

Monster pencil holders

Cut the tops off of your old soap bottles and add googly eyes, paint on fangs, or use plastic discards to make claws. Use them to store your kid’s pencils, markers, and gel pen collections.

Fun with cardboard rolls

Grab the paint, and turn your paper towel rolls into decorative cord holders, space rockets, or decorate them with fabric and markers to create cardboard roll dolls.

What is Grove Collaborative?

From natural household to personal care, everything at Grove is healthier for you and the planet — and works! We recommend monthly shipments and product refills that you can edit or move at any time. No monthly fees or commitments required.

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