How to Dispose of Corelle Dishes with Lead

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Many households have cherished vintage Corelle dishes that have been passed down through generations.

However, some of these older patterns may contain lead in their decorative glazes, posing potential health risks if ingested.

We at SafeKitchn will provide a step-by-step guide on how to safely dispose of leaded Corelle dishes, ensuring the protection of your family and the environment.

By following these simple yet crucial steps, you can rest assured that your beloved dishware will be properly handled, preventing any accidental lead exposure and allowing you to replace them with modern, lead-safe alternatives.

If you’ve been concerned about the potential hazards of using your vintage Corelle dishes or are unsure about their lead content, this article will offer a responsible solution to address this common household issue.

For those seeking information on how to responsibly handle and discard leaded dishware, this guide will provide the necessary information to ensure a safe and eco-friendly disposal process.


While lead poisoning from dishes may seem like an outdated concern, it’s still a potential risk that shouldn’t be overlooked, especially when it comes to vintage or antique dishware.

Although the use of lead-based glazes has largely been phased out and awareness of the dangers has increased, it’s crucial to understand how lead can make its way from your dishes onto your plate.

The most critical factor is the leaching of lead into foods and beverages.

Lead is a toxic substance that can wreak havoc on human health, posing a particular threat to young children and expectant mothers.

Even minute amounts of lead exposure can lead to severe issues, including developmental delays, brain damage, and organ impairment.

In the past, lead was a common ingredient in glazes used to create vibrant and decorative finishes on ceramic dishes, pottery, and certain types of glassware like Corelle.

Over time, this lead can slowly seep out, especially if the dishes are scratched, cracked, or exposed to acidic foods and beverages like tomato sauce, citrus fruits, or vinegar.

The risk of lead poisoning from dishes increases under certain conditions:

Age of the dishes: Older dishware, particularly pieces made before the 1970s, are more likely to contain lead glazes.

Condition of the dishes: Cracked, chipped, or heavily scratched dishes can release more lead particles into food.

Type of food/beverage: Acidic foods and beverages can cause more lead to leach from the dishes.

Duration of use: The longer lead-glazed dishes are used, the more lead can potentially accumulate in the body.

While the risk of lead poisoning from dishes alone is generally low, it’s crucial to take precautions, especially if you have vintage or antique dishware.

If you suspect your dishes may contain lead, it’s best to stop using them for food and beverages and to have them tested by a professional.

If they do contain lead, proper disposal methods should be followed to prevent environmental contamination and potential exposure.

The most important step is to replace any lead-containing dishes with lead-free, safe alternatives, especially if you have young children or pregnant women in your household.

By understanding the risks and taking appropriate actions, you can enjoy your dishware while protecting your family’s health.


How to dispose of Corelle dishes with Lead

In case your tested Corelle dishes contain some traces of Lead and you are uncomfortable with it, here are some tips for properly disposing of Corelle dishware that is no longer wanted:

  1. Corelle is made from vitrified glass, which is non-toxic and can generally be disposed of in your regular household trash. However, check with your municipal solid waste authority about any specific regulations in your area.
  • It’s best not to simply throw intact Corelle dishes directly into the trash as they could potentially injure sanitation workers. Break or crush the dishes first into smaller pieces.
  • Wrap broken Corelle shards in a newspaper or a plastic bag before placing them in the trash to avoid cutting hazards.
  • Some municipal recyclers will accept broken vitrified glass dishes like Corelle with other glass recycling. Check if this option is available where you live.


While uncommon today, lead poisoning from vintage or antique dishware can still occur and manifest in various ways.

Common symptoms include digestive issues like abdominal pain, nausea, constipation, and appetite loss.

Neurological problems like headaches, irritability, fatigue, memory lapses, and muscle weakness are also red flags.

Children may experience developmental delays, learning difficulties, behavioral issues, growth impairment, and hearing loss.

For expectant mothers, lead exposure can lead to miscarriages, premature births, low birth weights, and developmental delays in newborns. In severe cases, life-threatening complications like seizures, coma, brain damage, kidney damage, and anemia can occur.

However, early symptoms can be subtle and easily mistaken for other health issues, making it crucial to identify and eliminate potential lead exposure sources like lead-containing dishes.

If using suspected lead dishware, especially with young children or pregnant women, blood lead level testing is highly recommended for early detection and prevention of devastating health consequences.


If you have dinnerware that legitimately contains lead, proper handling and storage before disposal is important to minimize the risk of lead exposure.

Here are some recommended steps:


  • Wear disposable gloves when handling the leaded dishware to avoid transferring lead dust to your hands.
  • Handle the dishes carefully to avoid chips or breakage that could create lead dust.
  • Do not allow children to handle or play with leaded dishes.

Storage before Disposal:

  • Place each dish/piece in a separate plastic bag and seal it to fully contain any existing lead dust.
  • Put all the sealed plastic bags containing the leaded dishes into a rigid plastic storage bin with a sealable lid.
  • Label the bin clearly as containing lead materials.
  • Store the bin in an area inaccessible to children and pets until you can properly dispose of the contents.

It’s crucial to avoid creating any lead dust from the dishware and to fully contain any existing dust to prevent spreading lead contamination in your home before disposal.

Never wash leaded dishes in the same sink/dishwasher you use for regular dishware to prevent cross-contamination. Discard any food packaged in lead-soldered cans as well.

Check with your local hazardous waste disposal company for the proper way to discard leaded dishware in your area, as it may require special handling as hazardous household waste.


If you have old (vintage) or poorly manufactured dinnerware brands that might contain lead, see below on the various ways you can clean up the environment after disposal:

  • Sweep up any loose shards or dust carefully using a brush and dustpan. Vacuum afterward to pick up any missed small pieces.
  • Vacuum the area thoroughly using a HEPA vacuum to capture lead dust.
  • Wipe surfaces with a lead-specific cleaning solution or make one by mixing trisodium phosphate with water.
  • For any dishes you broke before disposal, wipe up the area with a damp paper towel or cloth to pick up glass powder residue.
  • Rinse surfaces completely with clean water.
  • Put used cleaning materials and vacuum contents in sealed plastic bags for hazardous waste disposal.
  • Consider having the area professionally tested for remaining lead contamination.
  • Wash the area with soap and water when you’re done to ensure no shards remain.
  • Finally, check carefully for any missed pieces and re-clean the area if needed.


Most municipal and county governments have household hazardous waste (HHW) programs and facilities set up to properly dispose of toxic household items like:

  • Lead-acid batteries
  • Paints, stains, solvents
  • Pesticides/herbicides
  • Mercury-containing devices
  • Lead products like old dishes/ceramics

These HHW facilities are usually located at municipal landfills, recycling centers, or transfer stations.

They have proper storage, handling, and disposal methods for hazardous materials that shouldn’t go into regular trash.

To use these resources for lead dishware disposal:

  1. Visit your city/county’s website and look for the “Hazardous Waste Disposal” section, or call their waste management information line.
  2. They’ll provide details on HHW drop-off locations, accepted items, any fees, and special instructions.
  3. You’ll likely need to pack lead dishes into sealed plastic bags/containers and label them before transporting them to the facility.
  4. Some areas have special HHW collection events periodically if there is no permanent facility.
  5. Certain retailers like hardware stores also have programs to collect small amounts of household hazardous waste.

The key is utilizing these approved HHW channels rather than discarding lead items improperly.

Most localities prohibit putting hazardous waste in regular trash/recycling bins.

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