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Wastewater Treatment

King County, Washington

For questions about the Wastewater Treatment Division website, please send an e-mail message or contact us at:

King Street Center
201 S. Jackson St., Suite 500
Seattle, WA 98104-3855
Phone: 206-477-5371
Fax: 206-684-1741
Telecommunication device for the deaf (TTY): 711

Get Directions to our office location in Seattle, Washington.

Staff Contacts

How to get rid of stuff you don't want or need? toilet

Recommended methods for disposing of residential and household waste 

Check this list for information about things that should go down toilets, sinks and other household drains; things that should go in household garbage; and things that should be disposed of or recycled in other safe, simple and healthy ways.

Improper disposal of things in toilets, sinks and household drains may clog sewer lines; harm public health, water quality and the environment; increase the cost of wastewater treatment; damage wastewater treatment equipment; or harm treatment plant workers.

You'll also conserve water by not using your toilet as as a trash can. Each unnecessary flush of trash uses at least three gallons of water that could be saved for better uses.

 
Animals

The Thing

Dispose of in your sink, toilet or other household drain

Dispose of in your garbage

Dispose of or recycle using this simple, safe and healthy method

Animals and pets
Also see Pet waste.

Advice from King County Solid Waste -- Animal Waste (Dead Animals)

No

OK for dead animals less than 15 pounds (mice, hamsters, small lizards, birds, etc.)

Veterinary clinic

Animal shelter

Pet cemetery

Bury on own property.

 
Antifreeze

The Thing

Dispose of in your sink, toilet or other household drain

Dispose of in your garbage

Dispose of or recycle using this simple, safe and healthy method

Antifreeze

No. Recycle antifreeze.

No

Take to household hazardous waste collection site for recycling.

See hazardous waste Web site or call the Hazards Line for more information.

 
Ashes

The Thing

Dispose of in your sink, toilet or other household drain

Dispose of in your garbage

Dispose of or recycle using this simple, safe and healthy method

Ashes

No

Yes. Be sure they are completely out and cold.



 
Automotive Products

The Thing

Dispose of in your sink, toilet or other household drain

Dispose of in your garbage

Dispose of or recycle using this simple, safe and healthy method

Automotive products (brake fluid, carburetor cleaner, engine degreaser, gasoline, transmission fluid)
Also see Antifreeze above; Motor oil, other petroleum products.

No

No

Take to household hazardous waste collection site.

See hazardous waste Web site or call the Hazards Line for more information.

 
Band-Aids/bandages

The Thing

Dispose of in your sink, toilet or other household drain

Dispose of in your garbage

Dispose of or recycle using this simple, safe and healthy method

Band-Aids, bandages (and other nonbiodegradable plastics)

No

Yes



 
Cat and kitty litter

The Thing

Dispose of in your sink, toilet or other household drain

Dispose of in your garbage

Dispose of or recycle using this simple, safe and healthy method

Cat and kitty litter

No

Yes; bag to control dust



 
Cements and Glues (petroleum based)

The Thing

Dispose of in your sink, toilet or other household drain

Dispose of in your garbage

Dispose of or recycle using this simple, safe and healthy method

Cements and glues, petroleum based (contact cement, epoxy, general purpose glue, instant glues, model cement, rubber cement, rubber cement thinner)

No

Acceptable for residential customers in King County, but using a household hazardous waste collection site is preferred.

Not acceptable in Seattle

Take to household hazardous waste collection site.

Consider safer alternatives for contact cement, general-purpose glue and rubber cement.

See hazardous waste Web site or call the Hazards Line for more information.

 
Chemicals

The Thing

Dispose of in your sink, toilet or other household drain

Dispose of in your garbage

Dispose of or recycle using this simple, safe and healthy method

Chemicals, chemical products (not otherwise covered in this chart)

No

No

Take to household hazardous waste collection site.

May be advertised in the Industrial Materials Exchange Catalog; call 206-296-4899

For businesses, call Business Waste Line.

See hazardous waste Web site or call the Hazards Line for more information.

 
Cigarette Butts

The Thing

Dispose of in your sink, toilet or other household drain

Dispose of in your garbage

Dispose of or recycle using this simple, safe and healthy method

Cigarette butts, matches

No

Yes, but put it out first.



 
Cleaning Wipes and Pads

The Thing

Dispose of in your sink, toilet or other household drain

Dispose of in your garbage

Dispose of or recycle using this simple, safe and healthy method

Cleaning product wipes and pads (for baby bottoms or other uses)
Also see Household cleaners.

No. Use caution with cleaning pads designated as "flushable." They may clog some home sewer lines and side sewers. If in doubt, dispose of in the garbage.

Yes



 
Coffee Grounds

The Thing

Dispose of in your sink, toilet or other household drain

Dispose of in your garbage

Dispose of or recycle using this simple, safe and healthy method

Coffee grounds

OK when connected to a sewerage system. No when connected to a septic tank

Yes

Use in compost or as soil amendment.

Use in a worm bin.

 
Coffee Stirrers

The Thing

Dispose of in your sink, toilet or other household drain

Dispose of in your garbage

Dispose of or recycle using this simple, safe and healthy method

Coffee stirrers

No.

Yes

Consider using reusable silverware instead.

 
Condoms, contraceptives

The Thing

Dispose of in your sink, toilet or other household drain

Dispose of in your garbage

Dispose of or recycle using this simple, safe and healthy method

Condoms, contraceptive sponges

No

Yes



 
Cotton balls, cotton swabs

The Thing

Dispose of in your sink, toilet or other household drain

Dispose of in your garbage

Dispose of or recycle using this simple, safe and healthy method

Cotton balls, cotton swabs, Q-Tips

No

Yes



 
Dental Floss

The Thing

Dispose of in your sink, toilet or other household drain

Dispose of in your garbage

Dispose of or recycle using this simple, safe and healthy method

Dental floss

No

Yes



 
Disposable Diapers

The Thing

Dispose of in your sink, toilet or other household drain

Dispose of in your garbage

Dispose of or recycle using this simple, safe and healthy method

Disposable diapers, incontinence products

Removed fecal material only

Acceptable if loose fecal material is removed or if item is wrapped in a closed, leakproof container.

Consider use of reusable diapers or a diaper service.

 
Drugs, medications, pharmaceuticals

The Thing

Dispose of in your sink, toilet or other household drain

Dispose of in your garbage

Dispose of or recycle using this simple, safe and healthy method

Drugs, medications, pharmaceuticals

No

NO. Unless a medicine take-back location is NOT available.

Instructions follow for disposal IF a medicine take-back program is NOT available:

  1. Keep the medication in its original container.
  2. To discourage consumption of the medicines, add something unappealing, such as kitty litter or coffee grounds. Do not crush the pills.
  3. Tape the container lid shut with tape, place in a sealable bag, and then place in a non-transparent container to ensure that the contents cannot be seen.
  4. Discard the container in the garbage. Make sure your trash cannot be accessed by children, pets, or others who might be looking in the garbage for drugs.

For chemotherapy drugs, contact your prescribing medical office as they may accept return of those medicines.

Take your unwanted medicines to a medicine take back location.

Go to TakeBackYourMeds.org to find a take-back site in your community.

Learn more about the Medicine Return Program (Local Hazardous Wastew Management Program in King County).

 
Eggshells

The Thing

Dispose of in your sink, toilet or other household drain

Dispose of in your garbage

Dispose of or recycle using this simple, safe and healthy method

Eggshells

No.

Yes

Add to your curbside yardwaste cart for recycling. For service check with your hauler at http://your.kingcounty.gov/solidwaste/garbage-recycling/food-collection.asp

Or

Compost in worm bins. Do not compost protein food scraps.

 
Excess Household Water

The Thing

Dispose of in your sink, toilet or other household drain

Dispose of in your garbage

Dispose of or recycle using this simple, safe and healthy method

Excess household water
Also see Rain, stormwater.

Yes, but conserve water to reduce household costs, preserve a valuable resource, and limit need to expand wastewater treatment facilities

No

Conserve water: Fix toilet leaks; use low-flow toilet, showerheads, faucet aerators and washing machines; wash complete loads of dishes and clothes; take (shorter) showers, not baths; turn off faucet while brushing teeth

 
Facial Tissue

The Thing

Dispose of in your sink, toilet or other household drain

Dispose of in your garbage

Dispose of or recycle using this simple, safe and healthy method

Facial and nose tissue

Yes

Yes


 
Fats, Oils and Greases

The Thing

Dispose of in your sink, toilet or other household drain

Dispose of in your garbage

Dispose of or recycle using this simple, safe and healthy method

Fats, oils and grease (from food products)

Advice from King County Solid Waste -- Food (Fats, Oils and Grease)

No

No free liquids. Let solidify first.

You can drop off used cooking oil at General Biodiesel in Seattle and they will turn it into energy!

Or, mix cooking oil with an absorbent such as kitty litter or dirt to make the oil solid before disposing of it in the garbage. Dispose of large amounts on several collection days.


 
Feminine hygiene products

The Thing

Dispose of in your sink, toilet or other household drain

Dispose of in your garbage

Dispose of or recycle using this simple, safe and healthy method

Feminine hygiene products (tampons, tampon applicators, menstrual pads)

No

Yes



 
Fertilizers

The Thing

Dispose of in your sink, toilet or other household drain

Dispose of in your garbage

Dispose of or recycle using this simple, safe and healthy method

Fertilizers

No

No. Empty containers OK.

Use up according to label directions.

Consider using slow-release organic fertilizers and compost.

Limit use of phosphorus on established lawns.

See Pesticides (outdoor) for weed-and-feed products.

 
Finger/Toenails

The Thing

Dispose of in your sink, toilet or other household drain

Dispose of in your garbage

Dispose of or recycle using this simple, safe and healthy method

Fingernails, toenails

OK, but the garbage can is preferred.

Yes



 
Food waste

The Thing

Dispose of in your sink, toilet or other household drain

Dispose of in your garbage

Dispose of or recycle using this simple, safe and healthy method

Food products, waste
Also see Eggshells; Fats, oils and grease.

Advice from King County Solid Waste -- Food (Food Waste)

Yes for liquid food waste, except fats, oils and grease.

Normal discharge of solid household food waste through a garbage disposal is acceptable. Follow directions in disposal manual for proper use.

Yes for residential waste

For commercial waste, volumes less than one cubic foot solids or 5 gallons liquid accepted at transfer stations

Large volumes of commercial waste accepted at only Cedar Hills with Waste Clearance Decision. For more information, 206-296-4633 and wc@kingcounty.gov.

Donate edible, packaged products to service providers such as Food Lifeline and Northwest Harvest.

Except for meat, fish, poultry, cheese, oily foods, butter, other animal products ...These can be placed in the curbside yardwaste cart for recycling.  For service check with your hauler at http://your.kingcounty.gov/solidwaste/garbage-recycling/food-collection.asp

Or

Compost in worm bins. Do not compost protein food scraps.

Bury food waste in garden.

 
Fruit and Vegetable Stickers

The Thing

Dispose of in your sink, toilet or other household drain

Dispose of in your garbage

Dispose of or recycle using this simple, safe and healthy method

Fruit and vegetable stickers

No

Yes



 
Hair

The Thing

Dispose of in your sink, toilet or other household drain

Dispose of in your garbage

Dispose of or recycle using this simple, safe and healthy method

Hair

No long hair or large amounts. Incidental shavings OK.

Yes



 
Hobby Chemicals

The Thing

Dispose of in your sink, toilet or other household drain

Dispose of in your garbage

Dispose of or recycle using this simple, safe and healthy method

Hobby chemicals (artists paints, chemistry sets, photographic materials)

No artists paints, chemistry set items, and photo fixer.

Used photo stop bath neutralized with used photo developer (not containing fixer) OK in sinks and toilets connected to sewer systems.

No in the City of Seattle

Acceptable for residential customers in King County, but using a household hazardous waste collection site is preferred.

Take to household hazardous waste collection site.

See hazardous waste Web site or call the Hazards Line for more information.

 
Household Cleaners

The Thing

Dispose of in your sink, toilet or other household drain

Dispose of in your garbage

Dispose of or recycle using this simple, safe and healthy method

Household cleaners (furniture polish, metal cleaner, oven cleaner, rust remover, spot and stain remover)

Advice from King County Solid Waste -- Cleaning Products

No

No flammable liquids.

Acceptable for residential customers in King County, but using a household hazardous waste collection site is preferred.

Not acceptable in Seattle

Use up according to label directions.

Offer to others who can use them.

Take to household hazardous waste collection site.

Consider using safer alternatives.

See hazardous waste Web site or call the Hazards Line for more information.

 
Human excrement, urine, feces

The Thing

Dispose of in your sink, toilet or other household drain

Dispose of in your garbage

Dispose of or recycle using this simple, safe and healthy method

Human excrement, feces, urine

Yes

No loose feces (disposal diapers and incontinence products accepted if loose fecal material is removed or if item is wrapped in a closed, leakproof container.)



 
Hypodermic needles, syringes, sharps waste

The Thing

Dispose of in your sink, toilet or other household drain

Dispose of in your garbage

Dispose of or recycle using this simple, safe and healthy method

Hypodermic needles, syringes, "sharps" waste

Advice from King County Solid Waste -- Medical Sharps

No

If the preferred methods listed at right are not available, use these safe disposal methods:

In Seattle, sharps may not be place into the garbage in any type of container. Instead, put in labeled puncture-resistant container with tight fitting lid, and then take full containers to North or South transfer stations.

King County Outside Seattle, Put needles and sharps in puncture-resistant container with tight fitting lid (like a 2-liter pop bottle). Place a biohazard label on the bottle. Biohazard labels are available at Health Department. Drop off and exchange sites. If you do not have a biohazard label, write on the bottle "SHARPS, DO NOT RECYLE" and put in garbage.

Do not put red sharps containers into the garbage. They are made of a brittle plastic that will break and create a hazard to waste workers.

Best choice: Buy a sharps container at a pharmacy. Ask if you can bring the filled sharps container back to the pharmacy for drop off. Disposal service offered by Long's, Bartell's and some other pharmacies.

Ask your doctor if you can return used sharps in containers to his or her office or clinic.

Contact your solid waste collection company. Ask if it is taking part in a sharps mail-back program.

Drop off your container at a Public Health Clinic or one of the special 24-hour syringe drop boxes in Auburn, Bellevue, Bothell, Federal Way, Renton, Seattle and White Center. For specific locations, call the Health Department at 206-205-7837 or visit this Web site.

Visit a Needle Exchange location to get a free sharps container or to drop off or exchange used sharps.

For more information, call King County Solid Waste at 206-296-4466 and Seattle Public Utilities at 206- 684-7600 (press 0 for a customer service representative).

 
Liquids, miscellaneous

The Thing

Dispose of in your sink, toilet or other household drain

Dispose of in your garbage

Dispose of or recycle using this simple, safe and healthy method

Liquids, miscellaneous (vactor waste, off-specification soft drinks, etc.)

No large or commercial quantities

Free liquids not accepted.

No flammable liquids

Household-size containers in amounts of one case or less in general waste stream

Larger amounts may be disposed at Cedar Hills with a Waste Clearance Decision. For more information, 206-296-4633 and wc@kingcounty.gov.

Call Full Container Recycling Co., 253-272-7726.

 
Marbles, small toys

The Thing

Dispose of in your sink, toilet or other household drain

Dispose of in your garbage

Dispose of or recycle using this simple, safe and healthy method

Marbles, small toys

No. Monitor playful kids.

Yes, but ...

Give away usable items. Increase youthful joy.

 
Motor oil, other petroleum products

The Thing

Dispose of in your sink, toilet or other household drain

Dispose of in your garbage

Dispose of or recycle using this simple, safe and healthy method

Motor oil, other petroleum products
Also see Automotive products.

Advice from King County Solid Waste -- Vehicles (Motor Oil)

No

No

Take waste oil to a service station, waste oil recycler or other waste-oil collection facility.

Take small clean amounts to automotive retail stores that accept it, like Schucks.

Take contaminated oil to a household hazardous waste collection site.

In Seattle, take clean oil for recycling to the city's North or South Transfer Station. In King County, take clean oil to the waste collection locker in Factoria or to the Wastemobile.

Call King County Solid Waste Division, 206-296-4466, for recycling information

See hazardous waste Web site or call the Hazards Line for more information.

 
Nursing Pads

The Thing

Dispose of in your sink, toilet or other household drain

Dispose of in your garbage

Dispose of or recycle using this simple, safe and healthy method

Nursing pads

No

Yes



 
Paint and stains, oil-based

The Thing

Dispose of in your sink, toilet or other household drain

Dispose of in your garbage

Dispose of or recycle using this simple, safe and healthy method

Paint and stains, oil-based (enamel, alkyl, epoxy)

Advice from King County Solid Waste -- Paint

No

No

Don't dry out these liquids before disposal.

Take to household hazardous waste collection facility.

Call the Hazards Line or see the hazardous waste Web site for collection sites.

Businesses call the Business Waste Line.

Consider using less-hazardous latex paints when possible.

 
Paint sovents, thinners, turpentine, wood preservatives

The Thing

Dispose of in your sink, toilet or other household drain

Dispose of in your garbage

Dispose of or recycle using this simple, safe and healthy method

Paint solvents and thinners, turpentine, varnish/ lacquer, wood preservatives

Advice from King County Solid Waste -- Paint

No

No (empty containers are OK)

Reuse paint thinner after letting solids settle out and removed.

Take to household hazardous waste collection site.

Consider using safer alternative products

See hazardous waste Web site or call the Hazards Line for more information.

 
Paper Towels

The Thing

Dispose of in your sink, toilet or other household drain

Dispose of in your garbage

Dispose of or recycle using this simple, safe and healthy method

Paper towels and napkins

No

Yes

Food soiled paper towels can be placed in the curbside yardwaste cart for recycling.  For service check with your hauler at http://your.kingcounty.gov/solidwaste/garbage-recycling/food-collection.asp
 
Pesticides

The Thing

Dispose of in your sink, toilet or other household drain

Dispose of in your garbage

Dispose of or recycle using this simple, safe and healthy method

Pesticides, indoor (ant/roach killer, flea killers, flying insect killer, lice shampoo, mothballs, rat poison)

Pesticides, outdoor (garden fungicides, insect killers, slug poison, weed killers, weed-and-feed, wood preservatives)

Advice from King County Solid Waste -- Pesticides

No

Empty containers acceptable, but don't rinse or recycle

Unless it's banned, use up according to label directions.

Offer to others who can use them.

Take to household hazardous waste collection site.

Consider using safer alternative products and methods.

See hazardous waste Web site or call the Hazards Line for more information.

 
Pet Waste/Manure

The Thing

Dispose of in your sink, toilet or other household drain

Dispose of in your garbage

Dispose of or recycle using this simple, safe and healthy method

Pet waste, animal manure

Advice from King County Solid Waste -- Animal Waste (Animal Manure/ Excrement)

More advice from Snohomish County: Dog waste is raw sewage -- Scoop the poop, bag it, and place it in the trash

Yes for household pet waste, but no kitty litter

Dispose of in public or residential garbage can, wrapped in a closed leak-proof bag or container. Waste cannot make up more than 10 percent of can volume.

No pet waste from businesses

Bury on own property -- in ornamental gardens, not vegetable gardens -- if it does not affect water or cause a nuisance. Composting cat or dog waste is not recommended.

Take livestock waste and manure to a composting facility.

Commercial kennels and other businesses should contact King County Industrial Waste Program, 206-263-3000.

 
Rags

The Thing

Dispose of in your sink, toilet or other household drain

Dispose of in your garbage

Dispose of or recycle using this simple, safe and healthy method

Rags, oily and otherwise

No

Dry out and dispose of in household garbage.

Dry out household rags soaked with solvents, gasoline or oil-based paints in safe, ventilated area.



 
Rain & Stormwater

The Thing

Dispose of in your sink, toilet or other household drain

Dispose of in your garbage

Dispose of or recycle using this simple, safe and healthy method

Rain, stormwater (roof drains, storm drains, etc.)

No, especially for new connections

See preferred alternative.

No

Where appropriate and allowed, disconnect residential roof drains, downspouts, yard drains and catch basins, then reroute to separate stormwater system--or allow water to soak into the ground using acceptable methods. Please check with your local wastewater utility for local guidelines.

Consider using a rain barrel.

 
Razors, razor blades

The Thing

Dispose of in your sink, toilet or other household drain

Dispose of in your garbage

Dispose of or recycle using this simple, safe and healthy method

Razors, razor blades

No

Yes


 
Styrofoam

The Thing

Dispose of in your sink, toilet or other household drain

Dispose of in your garbage

Dispose of or recycle using this simple, safe and healthy method

Styrofoam and other packaging

Advice from King County Solid Waste -- Plastic (Packing Peanuts)

No

Yes for styrofoam and plastics

Recycle cardboard and paper packaging.

Related news

May 10, 2010 news release -- Rags, debris contribute to pump station overflow in Bellevue

May 26, 2009 -- What not to flush; A magical mystery tour - and a cautionary tale - of Juneau's sewer lines (external link)

Don't Flush Trouble! These items belong in the trash can!
Put used cleaning wipes, cloths and pads in the trash, NOT the toilet!

Related information

Solid waste
  • King County Solid Waste Division's What to do with ...?
  • Garbage and Recycling Services
  • King County has solid-waste transfer stations in Algona, Tukwila, Enumclaw, Factoria, Houghton, Renton, Shoreline and Vashon, and drop boxes in North Bend and Skykomish. For locations, check the Blue Pages in the phone book, call the Solid Waste Division at 206-296-4466 or visit the King County Solid Waste Web site.
  • The City of Seattle has recycling and disposal stations at 8105 Second Ave. S. (South Park) and 1350 N. 34th St. (Fremont). For more information, refer to the City of Seattle Web site.

Household hazardous waste

For Wastemobile and collection site schedules, check the Web site or the Hazards Line below. Collection sites do not accept containers larger than 5 gallons without approval by the site manager. Large quantities of household hazardous waste also need approval. Call the Hazards Line for more information.

  • Local Hazardous Waste Management Program
  • Hazards Line: 206-296-4692; toll free, 1-888-TOXIC-ED (or 1-888-869-4233); 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday except holidays.
  • King County operates a Wastemobile that travels to various communities throughout King County to collect household hazardous waste. The Wastemobile usually operates for one or two weekends in a suburban city from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday.
  • King County has a household hazardous waste disposal storage locker at the Factoria Transfer Station, 13800 S.E 32nd St., Bellevue. The Factoria Locker, which has a 30-gallon limit per customer per day, is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through and Sunday, except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year's Day.
  • The City of Seattle's South Transfer Station takes household hazardous waste. The hazardous waste site is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, except on public holidays. The address is 8105 Fifth Ave. S.
  • The City of Seattle's North Aurora Hazardous Waste Site is available by appointment only from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday through Tuesday. Call the Hazards Line to make an appointment and get the site location.
  • Except for City of Bothell residents living in Snohomish County, residents of Snohomish, Pierce and Kitsap counties should call their hazardous waste agencies: Snohomish, 425-388-6050; Pierce, 800-287-6429; Kitsap, 360-337-5777.

Small-business waste