How to dispose of smoke alarms

Written by jason candanedo
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How to dispose of smoke alarms
Get rid of broken smoke alarms. (Image Source/Photodisc/Getty Images)

A smoke alarm is a tool that emits a loud sound when excessive smoke is detected. This preventive device is used to become aware of life-threatening situations. There are two types of smoke alarms available on the market -- ionisation and photoelectric alarms. Smoke alarms under the ionisation category contain radioactive materials. This material is integrated into a gold matrix and is found in a chamber within the smoke alarm. Photoelectric alarms lack this material but contain plastic, circuit boards and batteries, which can either be alkaline or lithium.

Skill level:



  1. 1

    Know the difference between the two types of smoke alarms. Ionisation smoke alarms cannot be recycled but can still be disposed of.

  2. 2

    Put on latex or rubber gloves, especially when handling items that may contain some radioactive materials.

  3. 3

    Remove the battery from the smoke alarm unit. Dispose of the battery according to your local recycling bylaws and disposal methods.

  4. 4

    Grab hold of the plastic exterior and remove it. Take this plastic casing and recycle it, along with your other plastics.

  5. 5

    Find the address of your smoke alarm manufacturer. This can be found in either the warranty or user manual of the smoke alarm.


  1. 1

    Pack the remainder of the smoke alarm unit in a box and place either bubble wrap or styrofoam and close the box with packing tape. Take the package to the Post Office carrier and send it to the manufacturer.

  2. 2

    Find a recycling or household waste centre in your vicinity. This can be done in case the smoke alarm manufacturer does not accept the unit for return.

  3. 3

    Drop off the smoke alarm unit at your local recycling or sanitation centre. The centre will know how to properly dispose of the unit.

  4. 4

    Wash your hands and disinfect thoroughly when you finish handling the smoke alarm unit.

Tips and warnings

  • Special shipping is not required for the smoke alarm package. Just ship it out like any other normal package.
  • Do not crush the smoke alarm unit.

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