How to Dispose of Paint Thinner?

One of the most common household construction products is the paint thinner. As useful as it is, paint thinner can be dangerous if not disposed of correctly.

If thrown with household trash, it can contaminate groundwater, and can also cause a fire hazard. According to most jurisdictions, paint thinner falls into the category of hazardous waste.

Thus, it must be disposed of by the residents to protect themselves and the environment.

Let’s take a look at some tips to dispose of paint thinner.

How to Dispose of Paint Thinner?

When disposing of used paint thinner, the following tips will help you on the way.

Place Used Rags in Sealable Containers

It is a no-brainer that rags soaked in paint thinner are combustible. So, they can easily catch fire in the open air. To keep any fire hazard at bay, these rags must be kept in air-tight containers filled with water.

The containers containing thinner-soaked rags with water can be disposed of at a hazardous waste collection site.

If you don’t have a sealable container, tear these rags into smaller rags.

Spread the pieces in an open area, and allow these rags the time to dry. After they have dried, place them in a fireproof container and dispose of it.

Separate Dirty Thinner From Clean One

Try not to throw paint thinner after using it once.

After using the paint thinner pour it into a glass container.

After some time, all the contaminants will settle at the base. The separation process can take several weeks, depending upon how dirty the thinner is.

Extract Clean Thinner

After the separation is complete, take a strainer, and through it, pour the clean thinner into a clean container. Make sure not to fill the new container up to the brim, and leave some space.

Make sure the lid is tightly placed. Make sure to label the container to avoid any confusion. While handling paint thinner, makes sure to wear safety gloves.

Allow the Remaining Thinner to Dry

Leave the remaining thinner in the previous container, and allow it to dry in a ventilated area. To hurry the drying process, you can add sand or cat litter or sawdust to the remaining thinner.

Make sure the container containing the thinner is kept away from the reach of children and pets. Refrain from smoking or starting a fire near the thinner container.

Wrap Up Dry Thinner

After the remaining material has dried and solidified, wrap it up in an old newspaper. Pack the newspaper containing dry thinner in a plastic back and close it tightly.

Throw away the plastic bag in your household trash. Some waste collection services won’t mind disposing of such waste, but would.

Thus, it is better to take such waste to the hazardous waste disposal facility.

Throw Away the Containers

The empty thinner containers must also be disposed of immediately.

If the residue in them is less than an inch, they can be disposed of with regular household trash.

Make sure not to put these containers into recycling. If there is liquid inside it, it is better to bring the container to a hazardous waste disposal site.

Also read: How to Dispose of Stain Rags?

Excess Paint Thinner Disposal

Here are some tips to dispose of excess paint thinner.

Give It Away

The best thing you can do to excess paint thinner is to give it away to someone who needs it.

You can offer it to a friend, a relative or a nearby company that needs thinner for a renovation project.

Take It to the Hazardous Waste Disposal Facility

In several communities, there are designated zones for hazardous waste disposal. Search for such sites in your locality, by contacting government officials or the municipal personnel in your area.

Most hazardous waste disposal facilities only accept such paint thinner in airtight glass or metal containers.

If there is a large amount of paint thinner to be disposed of, make sure you contact and inform the facility first.

Take the Waste to Collection Event

In several municipalities, special events are held for the collection of hazardous waste.

You can track these events through your local government’s website. In several states, there is a department for the protection of the environment that hosts such events.

Paint Thinner Safety Precautions

Regardless of how experienced you are with handling paint thinner, it is still harmful. Thus, it is essential for you to take care when handling it.

The following safety tips will help you on the way.

Skin Protection

A paint thinner can be dangerous for your skin.

Therefore, you must wear the right attire, when going near it. Splashes and even thinner fumes can cause pain and discomfort. To cover any exposed skin, wear goggles, masks, gloves and splash guards.

Keep Your Air Clean

Paint thinner has an unpleasant smell. However, instead of worrying about its odor, you should be concerned about the effect it can have on your lungs.

Besides damaging your lungs, paint thinner can also affect your nervous system. When handling paint thinner, make sure the area is properly ventilated.

Don’t forget to turn the exhaust fans on, and also keep the windows opened. To keep yourself safe, try wearing a face mask.

Take Care of Reactive Materials

Paint thinner is highly reactive when combined with other chemicals and surfaces. It can be especially reactive with acidic materials.

Furthermore, it is a combustible substance, which can cause a fire hazard. Make sure you keep paint thinner away from heated materials and substances, to cut the chances of a fire accident.

Store It Safely

Even when it is not in use, paint thinner is prone to combustion and contamination.

Therefore, your paint thinner container must be tightly sealed, without any leakage. Paint thinner must be stored in a cool and dry place, away from reactive chemicals.

Observe Hygiene

Regardless of how careful you are, paint thinner residues can still be found on your clothes and your skin. Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly after using paint thinner.

Also, refrain from eating or drinking within the area that contains paint thinner.

Clean Up

Now that you have stored your paint thinner, your job should be over, right? Not quite. There is still one more thing to be done. Take a look around the area, and see if there are paint thinner splashes here and there.

Use a clean dry cloth or a tissue paper to clean up the thinner residues. Also, make sure all the tools exposed to paint thinner have been properly cleaned.

Why Is Paint Thinner Dangerous?

A paint thinner can be harmful to a number of reasons. Number one, it is a flammable substance that can result in a fire hazard, if heated. However, through proper handling and storage of paint thinner, the chances of a fire accident can be minimized.

Paint thinner contains hydrocarbons, which if ingested can result in hepatic toxicity. Recreational inhalation of hydrocarbons found in paint thinners, glues, and petroleum products isn’t uncommon among adolescents and some adults.

Sniffing on such substances may seem harmless, but it isn’t. Ingesting sheer amount of hydrocarbons can result in euphoria, and can even sensitize one’s heart to endogenous catecholamines.

Furthermore, ingestions of hydrocarbons can also cause ventricular issues.

Some people are so sensitive to hydrocarbons that ingesting only a small amount can result in coughing sneezing and sometimes even throwing up.

Younger children may experience difficulty in breathing, sneezing or prolonged coughing. older children and even adults can experience a slight burning sensation in the stomachs, after ingesting hydrocarbons.

Neutralizing Paint Thinner Fumes

As discussed above, paint thinner contains components that are not only combustible but are harmful if ingested. The chemicals found in paint thinners give off volatile organic compounds (VOC).

These compounds affect the quality of your indoor air, which is crucial to your general well-being. These VOCs are can cause many health issues among homeowners.

To cut the harmful effects of the fumes given off by paint thinner, it is better to use them in a separate garage, or even outside the house. Furthermore, to ensure the quality of indoor air, it is vital to neutralize the fumes given off by paint thinner.

Here are some tips that will help you on the way.

Step # 1

Wash and clean any objects and clothes that contain paint thinner.

If possible, have the rugs, mats, curtains, and tablecloths dry-cleaned.

Step # 2

Install box fans near every door opening in your home, and make sure they are running on the highest setting.

Allow these fans to run for several days, until the odor completely leaves the area, thus ensuring clean and safe breathing air.

Step # 3

Fill activated charcoal in shallow bowls. The charcoal will absorb the odor in the air.

Bowls containing charcoal should be placed in every area that has the paint thinner odor. Allow these bowls to sit there until the smell is completely gone.


When disposing of paint thinner, make sure not to skimp on any of the tips mentioned above. Also, when storing paint thinner, make sure it is stored in an airtight container without the slightest leakage.

Furthermore, keep paint thinner away from heated objects and fire, to avoid any fire accident.

After a paint job or any other renovation project, don’t forget to neutralize the fumes of paint thinner in your living space to cut the chances of any severe health hazard.

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