How to Safely Dispose of Expired Medications and Household Cleaners

How to Safely Dispose of Expired Medications and Household Cleaners
The Department of Toxic Substances Control ( regulates the generation, treatment, storage, transportation and disposal of hazardous waste. (ozalpvahid/Shutterstock)

Every day, my email box loads up with messages, many of which contain questions from you, my dear readers. And if you’ve sent a message, you’re aware by now that while I read my mail and keep it filed, I just don’t have enough time in my days to answer every message personally. However, I reach into that file regularly and select questions I believe will have a wide appeal for readers.

Dear Mary: What’s the best way to dispose of expired medication and old household cleaners? I want to do this in a safe manner. —Chris, Virginia
Dear Chris: I suggest you start by visiting, where you will find convenient recycling locations by ZIP code for various material types, including your expired meds, household cleaners, and potentially toxic items such as paint.

Another option is to call your local refuse company to inquire about the disposal of hazardous household items. Most have an accommodation center where you can drop off cans of paint, cleaners, medications, and other such items that shouldn’t end up in the regular landfill.

You might learn that the company picks up hazardous waste, provided you have followed the proper guidelines for setting it out for pickup.

A couple of times a year on a Saturday morning, I load up potentially hazardous items that have accumulated around our home and drive them to our recycling center. It’s quick and easy, even when there’s a long line.

The Department of Toxic Substances Control ( regulates the generation, treatment, storage, transportation, and disposal of hazardous waste. Visit its website for additional information or to find the answer to any specific questions or situations you may have from time to time.

Dear Mary: My bathroom sink, vanity top, and shower walls are cultured marble. Recently, I’ve noticed pale yellow stained areas showing up here and there that don’t disappear with normal cleaning. Any suggestions for what I can do to remove the discoloration? Thank you. —Linda, Delaware
Dear Linda: Cultured marble, as opposed to natural marble, is a manmade blend of stone particles and resins combined with pigments to produce a wide range of colors and realistic, natural-looking patterns. Cultured marble is very durable, and the sure-fire way to remove stains is to use wet/dry sandpaper. Just know that this will also remove the finish and you'll end up with dull spots. Then you would have to cover the spots with high-gloss finish to match the sheen. But before you start sanding away on these stains, there may be some other options you haven’t tried that will remove the stains without damaging the finish.

Here’s one: acetone, available at any drugstore in the nail care aisle right next to nail polish removers. Make sure it says “100 percent acetone.” Fold a paper towel so it’s slightly larger than the stain and soak it with acetone. Lay it over the stain. Follow with clear plastic wrap larger than the paper towel. Grab some tape and tape this down to cover the soaked paper and plastic. This will prevent the acetone from evaporating, allowing it to absorb into the stain. Leave it overnight. I’m hopeful the stain will be gone when you remove it in the morning.

Other options: Make a paste from Bar Keeper’s Friend cleanser and water. Smear it on the stains and let it sit overnight, and see if that helps. If that doesn’t work, saturate a rag in hydrogen peroxide and allow it to sit on the stains overnight.

With any stain, you just have to try one product after another, until you get to the one that works, working from the least invasive to the most, which in this case would be hitting it with wet/dry sandpaper, mentioned above. Hope that helps!

Mary invites you to visit her at, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at, “Ask Mary.” This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book “Debt-Proof Living.” COPYRIGHT 2022 CREATORS.COM
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