When you do any painting around the home, you can end up using oil-based paints. To keep your brushes, clean for repeat use, you’ll often use paint thinner to clean these after use.
Paint thinner, which often comprises mineral spirits, turpentine, acetone, or other solvents, effectively thins oil-based paints and cleans brushes and rollers. However, when you get rid of unused paint thinner once a project is over, you need to do it the right way.
Because of the paint thinner’s flashpoint, the temperature it can catch fire is 104 degrees Fahrenheit, so tossing it in the trash proves to be a distinct fire hazard. Pouring it down the drain is also risky since it will affect your drains, contaminate the groundwater, and harm the environment.
If you don’t look at how to dispose of mineral spirits the right way, you could face regulations, fines, and penalties. However, with all this, correct paint thinner disposal needs some basic steps to be followed. (Find the Best Waterproof Paint for Shower Walls)
Here, in our paint thinner disposal guide, you can find the right ways to dispose of paint thinners and leftover paint completely safely.
Is It OK to Dump Paint Thinner Down the Drain?
Paint thinner, sometimes known as mineral spirits, is often used to clean brushes and instruments from oil-based paints and stains. Most folks throw away the thinner after only one use, which is both wasteful and pointless.
- Soak the brushes clean next time, then leave the dirty solvent to sit overnight.
- Paint sludge and pigment solids settle to the bottom of the jar, leaving a clear thinner layer on top.
- Pour a second clean jar halfway with clear thinner and seal it for later use.
- Store your jar of paint sludge in durable containers ready for your next paint cleanup trip by sealing it and keeping it in safe storage.
- Please take it to a hazardous waste disposal site or a municipal facility to recycle.
Never pour paint sludge or solvents down the drain or into the street gutter, as these chemicals can harm the environment and cause clogs in your drains. (Read What is Enamel Paint)
Can You Throw Away Paint Thinner?
- If there is less than one inch of residue inside the container and it has dried, you can use standard household trash and your regular household waste collection facility. Leave your container with the top ajar in a well-ventilated area to help evaporation and dispose of paint thinner naturally.
- Please do not throw it away in a recycle bin.
- Take your container to a hazardous waste collection facility if there is still liquid inside or a significant amount of dry residue.
- Get rid of unneeded paint thinner by finding someone who needs unused paint thinner. It is a simpler way to get rid of paint thinner; you don’t need to reuse or recycle it.
- Take your paint thinner to a hazardous waste disposal site. Many local communities have designated drop-off locations for such hazardous products as paint and paint thinner.
- Contact your local government or use an online search engine like Earth911.com in the US or gov.uk/hazardous-waste-disposal in the UK to find facilities where this can be disposed of safely.
- Keep paint thinner or similar chemicals in a sealed metal or glass container accepted by most hazardous waste facilities. If you have a large volume of waste to dispose of, contact your local facility.
- Take your paint thinner to a hazardous waste drop-off location. Many governments host hazardous waste disposal events on an annual or semiannual basis.
Can Paint Thinner Spontaneously Combust?
Once you’ve finished painting, you may think it’s time to relax, yet you could have a fire far easier than you expect if you’ve disposed of materials soaked in paint thinner the wrong way.
Even rags containing used paint thinner, the residue of oil-based paints, and varnishes have the potential to combust and catch fire spontaneously.
The way this occurs with these materials is that as oily rags dry, they produce heat. As the used paint thinner mixes with oxygen, it turns into a combustible cloth that could be heated in your garbage can. (Learn How To Paint Over Peeling Paint)
Here’s how to avoid such household garbage fire incidents.
- Hang rags to dry in a secure, well-ventilated location outside.
- Spread rags away from each other.
- When dry completely, properly dispose of them.
- Seal oily rags in a designated container that is airtight, non-combustible, such as an old empty paint can. If Don’t use rages repeatedly, you can soak them in water and oil-degrading detergent. Then have them picked up by your local garbage collectors as a hazardous waste collection on collection day.
Oil-based paints can be thinned, and metal tools cleaned with rags soaked in mineral spirits, paint thinners, turpentine, toluene, and many more toxic chemicals.
Mineral spirits and paint thinner must be disposed of carefully. Paint thinner that is improperly disposed of can lead to pollution and possibly create fires.
How Should I Dispose of Paint Thinner?
When looking at how to dispose of used paint thinner, there are just a few things to be aware of.
To properly dispose of paint thinner, never pour it down a drain or into the trash.
Paint thinner can easily catch fire in a trash can and contaminate groundwater if poured into a drain or sink. Governments can impose fines and penalties on those who violate the proper disposal laws for paint thinner and mineral spirits (including acetone, solvents, and other toxic compounds).
We recommend disposing of paint thinner or mineral spirits by pouring leftovers into a jar. Use what’s left to clean oil-based paint from tools and brushes. Once you’ve finished cleaning up, seal the jar lid and leave your solvent to sit overnight.
When you let the solvent sit overnight, check the jar. Solid remains of pigment and paint sludge will have settled to the bottom of the jar. Sitting above this is the clear thinner you can use again. You can carefully pour the clear thinner into another container and secure the lid to store ready for use.
Save the sealed paint sludge jar and when the container is full, take it to a hazardous-waste disposal site. Following this process and properly disposing of solvents, these sludge-filled containers keep your home free from flammable materials and make things easier for recycling.