Many people forget there are many items in the bathroom that can be recycled. Rarely, if ever, do you see a recycle bucket next to a waste paper basket in there so it makes sense. Out of sight, out of mind kind of deal. But let’s take a look at what can and can’t be recycled in your bathroom.

Toilet paper. The paper no. The tube yes.

Shampoo/Conditioner/Body Wash/Bubble Bath. Yes. Rinse and remove lids. Lids should be thrown away in the trash.

Soap. Plastic wrapping no. Box yes.

Q-tips. Packaging yes. Q-tip no.

Toilet bowl cleaner/Bleach. Yes. Rinse clean.

Spray cleaners. Yes. Empty, rinse and remove spray nozzle and throw away.

Disposable Razor/Razor Blades. No.

Toothbrush/Toothpaste. No. Paperboard packaging yes.

OTC medications. Paperboard packaging and container yes.

Cosmetics. Paperboard packaging yes. Cosmetic containers no.

Sanitary supplies. Cardboard box yes. Plastic packaging no. Everything else no.

Liquid Soap Bottles. Bottle yes. Empty, rinse and remove pump dispenser and throw away.

Shower curtain. No.

Combs/Brushes. No.

Deodorant. Sticks yes. Remove deodorant (usually the wheel thing will push it up and out). Aerosol cans no.

Candles. No.

Newspaper. Yes. (Just threw this one in there for the readers!)

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Recycling can be SO confusing. It’s frustrating. There are no standard guidelines and for years we’ve been told we must recycle. We must save the planet. So we start out separating materials, peeling labels, meticulously washing everything. We find this to be more of a bother than its worth. So, they change it. We’ll get lots more people to recycle if we just let them put it all in one bin. No more separating! Leave the labels on! Rinse and Toss are the new buzz words! It’s so easy! We’ll even tell them we’ll take just about anything! Now more people are recycling and we’re putting more things in our bin. But wait. China says – ya know what? You guys are sending us trash and we don’t want it anymore. You’re making no effort to send us clean recycling and we’re doing twice as much work. We’re done. The media jumps on that and tells us our recycling isn’t even being recycled. All our efforts are being sent to the landfill. There’s no market for our recycling.

In the wise words of Charlie Brown, “Good Grief.”

It’s virtually impossible to know what can and can’t be put in that bin. Every municipality, every hauler, every Material Recovery Center (MRF) has different guidelines. Well, friends, here’s the deal: I’d rather see us put ONLY what we KNOW we CAN recycle rather than questioning and wondering how to clean out a toothpaste tube. Let’s just start with that. Let’s not feel bad that we’re not recycling everything, because, honestly, a LOT of it is going to the landfill for one reason and one reason only: it’s trash.

The list you find on your municipal or hauler site will have everything that is accepted. I’m just here to tell you … the following list is shorter, but will ensure less contamination and what we’re really wanting is to recycle properly so let’s just stick with the basics.

PLASTICS. Let’s start with just 1’s and 2’s. Beverage containers (water, soda, juice, non carbonated), squeeze bottles (ketchup, mustard), jars (nuts, pickles, mayonnaise),  Shampoo bottles, laundry detergent, jugs (milk, juice, etc.)

METALS. Aluminum, steel, tin cans.

PAPER. Newspaper, office paper, junk mail, magazines, phone books, greeting cards, non-foil wrapping paper, grocery bags. Paper board – like pantry boxes, tissue boxes. 

With paper, just remember if it’s shiny, it’s probably coated, and coated can’t be recycled (some retail shopping bags, juice cartons, things of that nature).

CARDBOARD. Shipping boxes, product boxes, egg cartons.

GLASS. Bottles and jars. Remove the lids and throw them away.


These are the basics. It’s not all inclusive but it’s a start. Let’s go back to the basics and work our way from there!

GFL Environmental