How to Dispose of Nail Polish Remover?

Nail polish remover contains hazardous substances that can cause harm to your health and the environment if it is not disposed of or recycled correctly.

If you work in a nail salon or want to dispose of nail polish remover leftover at home, there are a few steps that you can take to ensure your and the environment’s safety.

You can safely dispose of nail polish remover in 3 ways:

  1. You can throw small amounts in a trash can lined with a garbage bag.
  2. You can discard it at a hazardous waste facility.
  3. Lastly, you can filter it first using a coffee filter and then toss it in the trash.

What Is Nail Polish Remover Made Of?

Before we dive into the process of disposing of nail polish remover, let us discuss what the substance is made out of and why it is considered hazardous.

Nail polish remover is made out of acetone.

Also known as propanone, acetone is a colorless and clear but highly flammable liquid. Other than nail polish removers, acetone is commonly used in grease cleaners, thin fiberglass resin, adhesive removers, paint thinners, and vinyl resins.

It evaporates from surfaces super quickly and absorbs heat with itself in the process, leaving behind a very cold surface.

Acetone is considered a hazardous waste material because of its explosive and evaporating nature. Hence, you need to handle and dispose of it correctly.

If not disposed of properly, it can cause adverse health effects such as eye, lung, and skin irritation. Long-term exposure to acetone can cause cracked and dry skin and can hamper the nervous system’s functionality.

Also read: Do Fingernails Decompose?

3 Ways to Dispose of Nail Polish Remover

As mentioned earlier, there are three ways to dispose of nail polish remover that we will discuss in this section.

Before you begin, ensure that you wear gloves, a mask, and other safety equipment to prevent any health and environmental hazards.

Option # 1. Throw Small Amounts in a Garbage Bag

If you have small amounts of acetone, you can dispose of them in a garbage bag. Used cotton balls or swabs dipped in nail polish remover can be thrown in a small garbage bag.

Make sure that you tie the bag securely and put it in the garbage.

Wash your hands of any remaining acetone after handling cotton balls.

Use trash cans with automatic opening and closing tops to elude susceptibility to acetone and other dangerous wastes that you throw away.

Option # 2. Dispose at a Hazardous Waste Facility

If you have an old nail polish remover at home that you no longer use, take it to a hazardous waste and recycling facility.

If your salon has bottles of nail polish and remover that are no longer wanted, put them in separate leak-proof containers from the rest of the recycling materials and take them to hazardous waste treatment centers or recycling facilities in your area.

Acetone is combustible, so make sure that keep the containers containing nail polish remover away anything that can cause ignition, such as open flames and hot surfaces.

Option # 3. Strain Using a Coffee Filter in a Jar

You can also strain acetone through a coffee filter and jar.

Pour the nail polish through a coffee filter placed over a glass jar.

The colored substances will accumulate in the filter, and the acetone will drain cleanly into the jar. Close the lid of the jar tightly and take it to the nearest hazardous waste facility.

Allow the used coffee filters to dry completely. To dispose of them, wrap them in a newspaper and throw them in the trash.

Disposing of Nail Polish Remover

In this section, we will take you through a step-by-step guide on disposing of nail polish remover.

We have also provided a list of all items you need to collect to begin the process and successfully carry it out.

What You Will Need

  • Rubber or latex gloves
  • A mask
  • Large garbage bag
  • A sealed, leak-proof, fireproof container

The Process

Here’s how you can dispose of nail polish remover in 4 easy steps:

Step # 1. Select a Hard Surface and Ventilated Work Space

It would be best if you always used acetone over a flat and hard surface.

Accidents can happen during the process, so if you spill acetone by mistake, it is easier to clean and soak it up using a paper or cloth towel from a hard, flat surface.

Most salon professionals work on a manicurist’s table when using acetone.

However, if you are lounging at home and performing this process in front of the TV, you need to be super careful. If you spill the substance on your rug, couch, or chair, it will ruin your furniture and stain it significantly.

You must ensure that you perform this procedure in a ventilated workspace since inhaling acetone for long periods can be detrimental to your health.

Salons are usually ventilated spaces, but if you are doing your nails at home, please do not work in a closed room. Make sure that you keep a door or window open when using acetone.

Step # 2. Wear Your Gloves and a Mask

Always wear latex gloves when using or disposing of nail polish remover, especially if you are working with large amounts. While short-term exposure is safe, long-term exposure can harm your health.

If you work in a salon and have a habit of removing your gloves after finishing a client’s nails, don’t.

You must keep on your gloves and mask on when cleaning up after a client and disposing of used nail polish remover and soaked products.

If you are allergic to latex gloves, you can also use rubber gloves, like those used for cleaning, to safely dispose of acetone. They will protect your hands from damage.

Step # 3. Pour Nail Polish Remover in the Container

Ensuring acetone is appropriately stored is super important, especially for salon experts. Although storing nail polish remover in the plastic bottles you purchase in the store might seem safe, it isn’t.

Those bottles can be prone to accidents and spills, which can cause damage to you, your children, pets, and your household items.

Used nail polish remover must be disposed of in a sealed, leak-proof, and fireproof container, especially by salons that dispose of large amounts of acetone at a time.

Some household waste recycling and treatment centers may even send qualified and licensed experts to obtain acetone waste from the salons at the end of each day.

If you are a salon professional, you must have the necessary permits and licensures required for proper handling, storage, and acetone disposal. We encourage you to visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for more information.

Step # 4. Throw Used Products in a Garbage Bag

If you use small amounts of nail polish remover at home, it is relatively safe for you to dispose of your used products with acetone in the trash.

The risks of injury, fire, or health hazards are lower with small amounts of acetone. Tissues, paper towels, or cotton balls that have been used to remove nail polish or clean up excess acetone can be thrown in the garbage bag once they have dried out.

However, you must throw products soaked in acetone in a garbage bag separate from the rest of your household trash. Since acetone is highly combustible, it can ignite once it comes into contact with other flammable items in your trash can.

Is It Okay to Pour Nail Polish Remover Down the Drain or a Plughole?

No. Please never pour nail polish remover or other products containing acetone down a drain or plughole. Although this is a quick and easy option to dispose of the substance, it poses several risks.

Acetone is a strong solvent. It can melt the plastic pipes installed in the plumbing system. This will destruct your plumbing system. Hence, it will cost you a lot of time and a substantial amount of money to fix it.

The sewage water from our drains goes through a water treatment process. However, this treatment process does not filter out chemicals like acetone from the water.

Hence, the chemical-infused wasted water poses a risk to plants and wildlife even after passing through this process.

The most significant risk associated with nail polish remover and acetone is that it is combustible. The vapors can ignite and cause explosions in the drain. This can cause a fire hazard and incur severe damages to life and property.

Let’s Recap: Acetone Storage and Safe Disposal Tips

  • Tip # 1. Avoid pouring acetone nail polish remover down the drain, plughole, or toilet.
  • Tip # 2. Do not toss large amounts of acetone in the regular garbage. Only small amounts should go in the trash.
  • Tip # 3. Work with acetone in a ventilated room and on a hard and flat surface.
  • Tip # 4. Always wear safety protective equipment such as masks and gloves when handling acetone nail polish remover.
  • Tip # 5. When disposing at a hazardous waste facility, dispose of a sealed, leak-proof, and fireproof container labeled with the contents.

Final Words

Disposing nail polish remover entails following a few guidelines to save time, money, life, and the environment.

By following the aforementioned tips, you can ensure that you dispose of nail polish remover in the safest manner possible.

If you are still unsure how to dispose of nail polish remover, get in touch with your local garbage collection facility and ask them to connect you with a hazardous waste center that can guide you further!

Other articles you may also find useful: