How to Dispose of Turpentine Safely 

Turpentine is a highly flammable paint thinner that needs to be disposed of safely.

If you aren’t careful with its disposal, it can catch fire and pollute the surrounding area. If you have a small amount of turpentine, you can simply dry it out and dispose of the container in your trash.

However, if you have a large amount of turpentine on your hands, you will have to dispose of it as hazardous waste.

Let’s explore how to dispose of turpentine properly!

How to Dispose of a Container of Turpentine

The disposal method for a container of turpentine will vary based on the amount of turpentine in it.

Let’s take a look at the two disposal methods for turpentine.

Disposing of a Nearly Empty Container of Turpentine

If you have a nearly empty turpentine container, you will have to let the leftover turpentine evaporate before disposal.

This method is ideal for a container that has only 1⁄4 inch of turpentine left in it. Simply uncap the container and put it in a cool, ventilated area that is away from any flammable objects and heat sources.

You can do this in a garage or outside in the yard.

Let the container sit outside until the turpentine has fully dried out. It might take several hours to evaporate, depending on the amount that is leftover in the container.

Once the turpentine has evaporated, take some paper to wrap the container neatly. Put the wrapped container in a plastic bag and throw the bag in your trash.

If you were using the turpentine to clean paint brushes, the container might have some paint debris at the bottom. If it’s less than ½ inch, you can let it dry out. If it’s more than 1/2 inch, then it’s best if you take the container to a hazardous waste facility for safe disposal.

Disposing of Almost Full Containers of Turpentine

If you have a full turpentine container, you will have to dispose of it as hazardous waste. The same is true for a container with more than ¼ inch of turpentine.

You will have to drop it off at a local hazardous waste facility. Letting a large amount of turpentine dry out in the open will create an unnecessary fire hazard since the fumes are highly flammable.

Research your town, city, or state’s policy on hazardous waste disposal. Locate a hazardous waste facility in your area for the safe disposal of turpentine.

Typically, the hazardous waste facility is connected with the local waste management facility. Check their hours of operation and drop off the container of turpentine at the facility.

If you don’t have the time to go to a hazardous waste facility, or if the nearest one is located far away from your home, hold on to your turpentine container.

Wait for a collection event to occur in your locality so that you can dispose of the turpentine. Until then, keep the sealed container in a cool, dry location.

Many municipalities offer such events to make it easier to dispose of household hazardous waste items.

However, you might still need to take your turpentine to the local church or city hall for disposal. These events are arranged to dispose of hazardous materials, such as turpentine, free of cost.

You can search online for signs of any such events in your locality. Look through your city, county, or local municipality’s website to find out everything you can about such an event.

Alternatively, you can look for hazardous waste disposal facilities that provide collection services. This way, you can pay a small fee, and the facility will collect the turpentine container from your location.

How to Dispose of Items Soaked in Turpentine

Here’s how you can dispose of items that are soaked in turpentine:

Put the Turpentine-Soaked Items in a Cool, Ventilated Spot

Place all the turpentine-soaked items, such as containers, rags, brushes, etc., on a non-absorbent surface. Select a shady spot outside or in an open garage to put these items.

Make sure to shield them from direct sunlight. Lay the rags as flat as possible so that they can dry out evenly and quickly.

The area that you choose for these items to dry out needs to be well-ventilated. This is because turpentine fumes are highly flammable.

Moreover, breathing them in high concentration can be toxic for your health. Put the soaked items on a steel or concrete surface. These materials are non-absorbent and flame-resistant, so they won’t get damaged by turpentine.

Let the Items Dry Completely

Let the turpentine-soaked items dry completely. Rotate them periodically so that they dry out evenly and quickly. For rags, you need to flip them over after about half an hour to ensure that both sides are completely dry.

Depending on the amount of turpentine oaked by the item, completely drying them can take anywhere between a few minutes and several hours.

Throw the Dried Items in Your Garbage

Once the turpentine-covered items have dried out, they are no longer fire hazards.

You can wrap them in newspaper and disposable plastic bags. Throw the wrapped items in the trash can outside your home.

How to Filter Old Turpentine

At times, you can filter and reuse turpentine instead of throwing it away. Here’s how you can filter old turpentine to use it again:

Let the Paint Debris Settle Down in the Turpentine Container

If you’ve used turpentine to thin an oil-based paint, you can easily strain and then reuse it later. All you have to do is wait for the paint to settle at the bottom of the turpentine container so that you can filter out the turpentine.

Once the paint debris has settled at the bottom, the liquid in the container will appear very clear, and the bottom of the container will be covered with sediment.

This process might take weeks, so it’s best to store the container in a safe location. Make sure that it doesn’t get exposed to direct sunlight or heat and doesn’t get damaged. Your basement or garage is the ideal storage location.

Find a Metal Container with a Tight-Fitting Lid

The next step is to find a solid, metal container that is large enough to accommodate the strained turpentine. Make sure that the container has a tight seal that can’t be broken into easily.

It also needs to be sturdy and durable. Don’t forget to label the container when putting turpentine in it. This way, you and your loved ones will remember to handle the container carefully.

Use a Coffee Filter to Strain the Turpentine

Put a coffee filter on top of the new container. Gently and slowly pour the turpentine through the filter. Be careful not to spill the turpentine from the sides.

Don’t remove the coffee filter until all the turpentine has dripped through it into the new container. The filtering process might be slow if there are many small paint debris particles in the liquid.

Seal the Container and Store It Safely

Once you have filtered all the turpentine, seal the new container tightly. The filtered turpentine is as good as new, and you can use it however you want. Just make sure to store the container in a safe area. It should remain upright in storage.

Make certain that the stored turpentine isn’t exposed to heat or temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius.) Try to store the turpentine container in a cabinet that is designated for flammable materials to reduce the risk of ignition.

Dry the Coffee Filter and Used Container in a Well-Ventilated Area

Once you have safely stored the turpentine container, dispose of the used items correctly.

Put the coffee filter flat-out on a non-absorbent surface, such as steel or concrete, in a well-ventilated, cool area. Put the old turpentine container and lid to dry out as well.

If the container has more than ½ inch of turpentine and paints debris, you will have to drop it off at a hazardous waste facility.

Dry these items in your garage or shed. Make sure the area is highly ventilated and protected from direct sunlight. If you don’t dry these items out in a cool, shaded area, the turpentine fumes will pose a fire risk.

Throw the Dried Out Items in Your Trash

Once there is no wet turpentine residue left on the coffee filter and old turpentine container, you can dispose of them properly.

They are no longer considered to be hazardous or flammable materials. Simply wrap them in disposable packaging and throw them in the trash can outside your house.


If you have a small amount of turpentine (less than ¼ inch,) you can dry it out in a well-ventilated, cool spot.

Once it has dried, you can dispose of the container in your trash.

To dispose of large amounts of turpentine, you will have to contact your local hazardous waste facility. You can either drop off the turpentine at the facility or have it picked up from your location for proper, safe disposal.

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