Around Your Home

How you clean and maintain your home impacts the health of our local waterways.

dan sweepingWhen you sweep your driveway instead of hosing it down, you help keep our waterways healthy.
Unlike sanitary sewers, the storm drains near our homes lead directly to creeks, wetlands and the Bay, without any treatment. That’s why it’s important to keep waste and wastewater from cleaning, maintenance and other chores around the house out of storm drains. Detergents and other household chemicals, debris and bacteria from pet feces are harmful to plants, fish and other aquatic organisms, and can even put the safety of our drinking water at risk.

Preventing pollution and choosing least toxic household products go a long way in keeping our waterways clean and healthy. The Clean Water Program works with retailers to promote such products. The Program also trains home maintenance service providers to adhere to best practices that protect our waterways. Please do your part too! Some simple routines can make a big difference.

What You Can Do

Dispose of wash water in sanitary sewers.

Never pour wash water into storm drains. Always use a sink or floor drain connected to the sewer. If this is not possible—for example, when rinsing out a garbage can—pour wash water onto a lawn where it can trickle into the ground.

soapy water

Control pests with less-toxic alternatives.

Keep your home safe for children and pets by fighting ants, fleas and cockroaches without toxic chemicals. Explore our fact sheets, including tips for specific pests. If you need to hire a pest control company, please read our fact sheet on Finding a Pest Contol Company, and see the list of Ecowise Certified Integrated Pest Management Contractors. Many local hardware stores and nurseries offer less-toxic pest control products and have been trained by Our Water Our World experts. Find a location near you.

Hire responsible companies.

Ensure that home maintenance contractors, such as carpet cleaning, painting, and remodeling services, dispose of materials properly, not in a gutter, storm drain, or roadside ditch. Download our carpet cleaning fact sheet to share with your contractor.

Sweep, don’t hose, your driveway!

carpetcleanerBe sure to ask any cleaning company you hire where they dispose of waste water. It should never be poured down a storm drain.Sweep up debris and dispose of it in the garbage. This will keep gutters unclogged and prevent the residue from automotive fluids and other pollutants get washed into storm drains. 

Clean up spills properly.

Clean up outdoor spills with a broom, not a hose. Use absorbents such as kitty litter, sawdust or cornmeal as needed. Dispose in the garbage.

Drain Pools, Spas and Fountains to sanitary sewers,

...never into a street, gutter or storm drain. Download our pool maintenance fact sheet to learn more.

Dispose properly of unused paint, thinners, cleaners...

...and other household chemicals at a household hazardous waste facility.

Pick up after your dog!

Pet feces contain high concentrations of pathogens such as bacteria, parasites, and viruses. When rain and sprinkler water washes pet feces into storm drains, these pathogens end up in lakes and creeks posing a health risk to humans and wildlife.

Resources for Download (PDF format)

Pest Control Fact Sheets

Pool Maintenance Fact Sheet

Carpet Cleaning Fact Sheet