A Guide on How to Dispose of Acetone Safely


Last updated: September 9, 2023

Get Insightful Thoughts on How to Dispose Acetone Safely

How to dispose of Acetone

Despite being a chemical commonly used in household and professional tasks, acetone can be hazardous if improperly disposed of.

If you are looking to learn how to properly dispose of acetone? Or, how to go about disposing of acetone paint thinner? Well, you are on the right page.

We will discuss all you need to about how to dispose of acetone at home or using a hazardous waste disposal facility

How to Dispose of Acetone

The best way to dispose of leftover acetone is to contact your local hazardous waste recycling facility for directions. This will also involve you sending the acetone container with the solvent inside to the facility, and they will handle the hazardous waste disposal process.

What is Acetone?

Acetone is the smallest and simplest ketone. It has a strong, pungent smell, flammable and colorless. It is a water-miscible solvent. It tends to look similar to isopropyl alcohol.

The main use of acetone is as a solvent. It is primarily used in manufacturing different chemicals, lacquers, plastics, and cleaning supplies.

Acetone is also utilized in various industrial and household products, such as super glue removers, paint thinners, and to remove nail polish. This solvent can break down grease and varnish.

One major reason it is used as a solvent in many removers is that it evaporates quickly.

After breaking down the substance it is supposed to remove, the acetone does not need clean-up since it evaporates.

This makes managing removal tasks easy, especially tasks requiring a minute quantity of acetone.

Why is Acetone Important for Painting?

Acetone is important for painting because it is used as a solvent in thinners and paint strippers.

In paint thinners, acetone helps to thin paints for paint sprayers.

Thinning is essential if you want multiple coats of paint, giving your paint job a clean, polished, and professional finish.

In paint strippers, acetone helps remove old paint by dissolving and breaking it down.

Using acetone paint strippers and removers is quicker than conventional methods such as sanding.

How Hazardous is Acetone?

Acetone can be very hazardous, particularly if you do not follow safety instructions and measures.

This solvent is a volatile organic compound (VOC) with a fast evaporation rate.

In cases where one inhales, acetone fumes may cause nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath, respiratory tract irritation, and headaches.

Exposure to it may also lead to skin and eye irritation. Ingesting acetone is not recommended because it can cause abdominal pain and vomiting.

Since acetone is a highly flammable liquid, it is crucial to know that it possesses both explosion and fire hazards – and while the chances of this happening are not that high, it is still important to be very careful.

Due to the risk above, it is recommended that you do not use or store acetone close to a heating or flame source. Also, you should always keep it away from direct sunlight or any other ignition sources.

You should also read and follow the safety instructions on the acetone container to use the product.

Safety Tip: We recommend storing acetone in an appropriate acetone-resistant and appropriate storage container. Keep it away from direct sunlight and store it in a well ventilated area far away from children, pets, open flames, or ignition sources.

Disposing of Acetone Paint Thinner

If you dispose of tiny amounts of acetone paint thinner, you can safely do it at home by using the cotton balls or evaporation methods described below.

However, if you want to dispose of larger amounts of acetone paint thinner, your best bet is a hazardous waste center.

How to Dispose of Acetone Properly

Given how hazardous acetone is to living things and the environment, one should always dispose of it correctly.

Inappropriately disposing of acetone can severely impact humans, animals, and the environment.

Luckily, there is more than one way to properly dispose of acetone.

Let us look at some of these ways and when they can be appropriate.

Empty containers that were used to store acetone

This is one of the easiest scenarios to handle when disposing of acetone. Here are the two best ways to achieve this.

Waste disposal center

The best way of disposing of empty acetone containers or bottles is by using a hazardous waste disposal service or facility.

All you have to do is label the container and seal it airtight before taking it to the disposal facility and throwing it in the appropriate trash area allocated for hazardous waste.

You can use the same approach when disposing of empty nail polish remover containers or any other empty container of substances that contain acetone.

While this method may seem overkill for disposing of empty acetone bottles, it is the safest option for you and the environment.

Trashing out

Another way to do this is to ensure no acetone is left in the bottles or containers.

You can do so by leaving the empty bottle open outside. This ensures that any remaining acetone still left in the container evaporate and is air-dry.

Next, label the container indicating that it contained acetone and close it airtight.

Afterward, double bag the bottle, and you can safely dispose it with other trash.

While this method is recommended, it should never be your first choice if you have a hazardous waste disposal center near you.

Small amounts of acetone

When dealing with small amounts of liquid acetone, there are various disposal methods.

Using a hazardous waste disposal facility

As always, the best method we can recommend to dispose of this hazardous chemical is to use a local hazardous waste facility or call the EARTH911 or EPA for the best guidance.

In most cases, you must seal the acetone container tightly and take it to the waste facility for proper disposal.

Using cotton balls

It is important to emphasize that you should always use and wear protective gear when handling acetone – even small amounts. We will discuss safety instructions later on in the article.

For this method, you will need the following supplies:

  • Cotton balls.
  • A sealable container with an airtight lid.
  • Waste bags.
  • A way to label the container

Start by taking a cotton ball and dipping it in the acetone so it can soak it up.

Remove the cotton ball and place it in a metal container.

Repeat the two steps above until all the acetone is gone.

Seal the sturdy metal container with the cotton balls airtight and label it. A simple label like “container has cotton balls soaked in acetone” will do.

Side Note: The main reason for using a metal container is that the acetone does not eat through it. You can use any other container, provided it is acetone-resistant and has an airtight seal.

Next, air-dry the empty acetone container. Put a label on it if it does not have one or if the original one is worn out.

Double bag the empty acetone bottle and sealed container with the cotton balls separately.

Finally, take both packages to a local waste management facility near you.

There are many local hazardous waste facilities across the U.S.; one is bound to be close to you.

If you have a problem finding one, contact the US Environmental Protection Agency for help.


Another way of disposing of small amounts of acetone is by evaporation.

For this method, you will require:

  • A metal container.
  • A way to label.
  • Safety gear.

Start by wearing proper personal protective equipment (PPE).

Next, take all your working supplies above and the container with the acetone outside.

Place the metal container on a stool or crate in an open area.

Pour the acetone into the open container for several minutes to completely evaporate. Acetone evaporates fairly quickly.

Be careful since acetone vapor is harmful.

Air-dry both the empty acetone bottle and metal container before sealing them airtight.

Label and double bag them separately.

Take them to a waste disposal center or throw them in the trash if you cannot find a nearby center.

Acetone Safety Tips: Do not use this method to dispose of large amounts of acetone. The method should only be used in cases where you want to dispose of, at most, a few spoonfuls of acetone. Lastly, to reduce the chances of a fire, you should do this when the sun has set.

  • Larger amounts of acetone

It is important to be cautious when disposing of larger quantities of acetone. This is because, in larger amounts, acetone can have devastating effects on living things and the environment.

As such, the only recommended way of disposing of it should be through a waste disposal facility.

Despite what you might read online, this is the only safe disposal option for larger amounts of acetone.

Ensure you properly seal and double bag the acetone bottle before taking it to the facility.

How to Dispose of Acetone at Home

You can dispose of acetone at home, especially if it is a small quantity – a spoonful or two.

You can use the methods explained above, i.e., through evaporation or cotton balls.

However, you should never try to dispose of large amounts of acetone at home.

You should always take the acetone to a hazardous waste facility when dealing with large quantities.

The facility is better equipped to handle the hazardous waste disposal process.

How to Dispose of Acetone Nail Polish Removers

You can use cotton balls to soak the remover before placing them in a metal container.

After all the remover has been soaked up, seal the container with the cotton balls airtight and label it.

Air-dry the bottle that previously contained acetone nail polish remover.

Double bag the bottle and metal container separately before trashing them out or taking them to a hazardous waste disposal company.

Safety Precautions for Acetone Disposal

The following are some safety precautions to take when disposing of acetone.

  • You must put on personal protective equipment (PPE) when handling or disposing of acetone. Wear gloves, a filter mask, and goggles to protect yourself from harm.
  • Be careful when handling acetone so you do not have spillage. Especially when picking up an acetone container or when pouring it.
  • Keep the acetone container from any ignition sources, open flames, or direct sunlight at all times.
  • Only use metal containers or appropriate acetone-resistant containers to hold the liquid.
  • Label your container-if it does not already have a label. This will make it easy for the facility to know which liquid they are dealing with.
  • Always tightly seal acetone containers or empty ones before disposing them at the waste facility.
  • Never pour acetone outside or down the drain or toilet. This is illegal in the country.
  • Keep children and pets away from handling acetone.
  • The first option for disposing acetone should be a hazardous waste facility.
  • Always contact local authorities for the correct instructions and steps to dispose of acetone correctly.

Can You Reuse Acetone?

Yes, you can reuse acetone. However, you may first have to filter or distill it before doing so.

Most of the time, you may find some solid impurities in used acetone. In such cases, you can use coffee filters to filter your acetone.

You can pour the acetone into a metal, glass, or appropriate bottle through a coffee filter.

The acetone will pour into the container, leaving behind any impurities. Immediately seal the container so that it is airtight to prevent evaporation.

The filtered acetone can be used for cleaning or paint thinning (especially when thinking of the same paint as before).

How Can I Safely Store Acetone?

Proper handling and storage are the best ways to prevent accidental exposure or use and potential harmful effects.

The following are some of the precautions to take when storing acetone:

  1. Always store acetone in a metal container or any appropriate acetone-resistant bottle.
  2. Clearly label the container “Acetone” to avoid any confusion or wrong usage of this hazardous and flammable liquid. Ensure the label is big enough and well placed so it is easy to see.
  3. Store acetone in a dry and cool place. It should be in a place where children or pets cannot reach.
  4. Store acetone away from direct sunlight, open flames, or other ignition sources to prevent fire hazards.
  5. Ensure the acetone container is tightly sealed to prevent evaporation and spillage.

FAQs – Disposing of Acetone paint thinner

Can You Store Acetone in a Plastic Container?

Yes, acetone can be stored in some plastic containers. The commonly used plastic containers for acetone storage are made of high-density polyethylene (HDPE), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Always ensure that you are using an acetone-resistant container for storage.

Can I Pour Acetone Outside?

No, you should never pour acetone outside. One reason for this is that it is illegal to do so. Another is because acetone can seep into the soil and cause it to lose fertility permanently. Also, if the acetone gets into the water streams, it can be dangerous for living things.

Can I Pour Acetone Down My Drain?

No, you should not pour acetone down the drain. The chemical can react with rubber or other plastics in your plumbing system and cause them to melt or degrade. Acetone may also leak into the water supply, making it toxic for consumption.

Can I Pour Acetone into My Septic Tank?

No, pouring acetone into your septic tank is not recommended. This is because it can seep into the area around your septic (particularly if you pour large quantities). This can harm the environment, and it may also leach into the water streams.

Can Acetone be Flushed Down the Toilet?

No, acetone should not be flushed down the toilet. It can damage the plastic component in your toilet’s drainage and lead to costly repairs.

How Do I Dispose of Nail Polish Remover?

To dispose of acetone-based nail polish remover, close the lead tightly before double bagging it. Next, take it to a waste disposal facility or throw it in the trash.

What Are the Regulations Governing Acetone Disposal?

There are several regulations governing the disposal of hazardous waste like acetone. Contact your local authorities or environmental protection agencies to learn more about how to dispose of acetone properly.

Content Summary – Disposing Acetone

Acetone can be very hazardous, especially if disposed of inappropriately.

The best way to dispose of acetone or acetone-based products is by using a hazardous waste disposal facility since they are well equipped to handle the disposal process.

Remember, adhering to the proper disposal protocol will protect you and the environment.

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