To put it simply, no you cannot dispose of your unfinished paint thinner through regular household garbage.
Never throw paint thinner into the garbage, dump it onto the ground, or into any kind of drain. It is a hazardous chemical that needs to be properly disposed of. You can take unused paint thinner to your local household hazardous waste collection facility.
Paint thinner is a petroleum-based product meaning it is flammable with its low flash point of around 104 °F, so putting this in the garbage is asking for a fire! It also contains very toxic substances that can contaminate your neighborhood’s groundwater if poured down the drain– you’ll never be invited to the neighborhood’s yearly BBQ after that!
You should never pour any amount of paint thinner onto the ground – it doesn’t matter if it’s just to empty that last bit in the can. It will easily pollute the soil in the area, destroying any vegetation that you or your neighbors might be growing.
Once you have finished the can completely, and the inside is dry, you can dispose of the bottle in your normal household garbage, but it’s best to wrap the empty can in a newspaper and place it into a plastic bag.
Where to Dispose of Paint Thinner
You may not know this, but you need to take any leftover paint thinner that you would like to dispose of to your local (household) hazardous waste collection facility.
Some states even hold hazardous collection days or events, which are an easy way to dispose of any hazardous waste that you have been meaning throw away, as these are not safe chemicals to keep around inside.
You can also see if one of your friends or co-workers can use the rest of your leftover paint thinner. This gets rid of your leftovers and keeps them from buying more hazardous chemicals.
What Chemicals Are Used As Paint Thinner?
Mineral spirits, acetone, turpentine, naphtha, toluene, methyl ethyl ketone (MEK), dimethylformamide (DMF), 2-Butoxyethanol, or any of the other glycol ethers are most often used as paint thinners.
Safely Dispose of Old Paint Thinner
You don’t need to throw away the paint thinner after one use – this would be wasteful and a lot more costly, instead, once you have soaked your brushes or tools, seal the container you have used and leave it alone until the dirt residue settles to the bottom. This then leaves you with a clean layer on top, that is easier and more manageable to pour through a filter (coffee filter).
Make sure that you are always wearing rubber gloves when handling paint thinner and you store your paint thinner in a safe and secure place.
A Few Simple Safety Steps
You may have rags that you have used that have paint thinner soaked into them.
- Place the rags into a metal container with a lid with water filling the can and soaking the rags.
- You take them to a hazardous collection point near you (find your nearest hazardous waste center to dispose of paint thinners at Earth911.com, and select “where to recycle”)
- Be careful not to spill any of the water or try to open the container once the rag is submerged.
Any bottles that you have left, you are completely okay to throw away if you are sure it’s dry with little to no residue on the inside. But if you are ever unsure or have any doubt, it’s better just to take the bottle into the hazardous collection point just as you would with the dirty rags. You can take them at the same time to save yourself a trip later on.
What Effects Does Paint Thinner Have On The Environment?
Most chemicals used as paint thinners are known carcinogens, flammable and dangerous to plants and animals that come into contact with them.
At the end of the day, it is extremely simple to dispose of our hazardous waste in several different ways, so make sure you are following your local guidelines, keeping yourself and everyone around you safe when handling these harmful and potentially toxic chemicals.