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Taking Care in Your Home

When you read product labels, look for signal words. Signal words are found on labels of new products and let you know how toxic a product is. Older products in your home may not list signal words. Drugs and personal care products are not required to list them, although many are hazardous.

Signal Word Meaning
Poison highly toxic
Danger extremely flammable, corrosive, or highly toxic
Warning moderate hazard
Caution mid/moderate hazard
No signal word not hazardous
In the Bathroom
  • Install a low-flow shower head with a maximum flow rate of 2.5 gallons per minute or less. You'll cut your bathroom water use by 30 to 50 percent, and you'll conserve the energy required to heat the "extra" water.
  • Turn off water when you're not using it. Don't let it run while you shave or brush your teeth.
  • If you have a dripping faucet, you may be wasting hundreds of gallons of water a week. Replace worn out washers to stop faucet leaks.
  • If your toilet "runs" between flushes, you are wasting a lot of water. In fact, you usually can't hear a leaky toilet valve until you're losing more than 250 gallons per day. To test your toilet, place food coloring or dye tablets in the toilet tank, and then check the bowl for traces of color after 15 minutes. Buy an inexpensive repair kit to repair any leaks or call a professional plumber.
  • When you replace a toilet, install a low-consumption model or a water saver. Standard toilets use 5 to 7 gallons per flush; "water-savers" use 3 to 4 gallons per flush; and new low-consumption models use 1.6 gallons, or less per flush. Until you replace your toilet, put a plastic bottle filled with water in the tank to cut down on water needed for a flush. (Don't use bricks. They can disintegrate and cause plumbing problems.)
In the Kitchen and Laundry Room
  • Add low-flow aerators to threaded faucets in sinks. These inexpensive devices reduce flow rates while maintaining enough force for washing and other uses.
  • To conserve water and energy, wait until you have a full load before running your dishwasher or washing machine. Use the water-saving cycle whenever you can.

U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20250
www.usda.gov