How to Dispose of Paint Thinner

Paint thinner is a solvent that can be used to thin paint to the desired consistency for application. While excess paint thinner can be stored for later use, it is often necessary to dispose of paint thinner or paint that is mixed with paint thinner. These substances should not be discarded into the garbage, as most jurisdictions classify them as hazardous substances. You need to dispose of paint thinner in the proper, responsible way in order to protect the local environment from contamination.


  1. Image titled Dispose of Paint Thinner Step 1
    Avoid buying more paint thinner than you need. The simplest way to deal with the issue of disposal is to buy only what you need. If you are able to use all the paint thinner you purchased, you can rinse the can out with water (this is best done outside with a garden hose), wrap it in paper, and discard it in the trash can.
  2. Image titled Dispose of Paint Thinner Step 2
    Save your excess paint thinner for future use. Unused paint thinner can be poured into a clean glass or plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. Label the container clearly and store it in a dark, dry area. Consider offering it to a friend or a neighbor who might need it. You may also be able to donate the paint thinner to a local group, such as a church, that needs it for renovation projects.
  3. Image titled Dispose of Paint Thinner Step 3
    Take the paint thinner to a hazardous household waste collection facility. Many municipalities will have permanent sites available for the drop-off of hazardous materials like paint and paint thinner. In the United States, these facilities can be located through or the Environmental Protection Agency. Contact the facility to ask them how the paint thinner should be prepared for dropping off.
  4. Image titled Dispose of Paint Thinner Step 4
    Take the paint thinner to a hazardous household waste collection event. Many jurisdictions will hold annual or semiannual events for the disposal of and education about hazardous waste. These events can be found through your local jurisdiction's website. Many states in the United States have a Department of Environmental Protection (or a similar branch) that organizes these events.
  5. Image titled Dispose of Paint Thinner Step 5
    Dry the paint thinner and dispose of it in the garbage. If no hazardous waste collection site is available, you may have to discard the paint thinner in the garbage. Before doing this, take the lid off the can, stir an absorbent material like sawdust or cat litter into the paint thinner, and leave the can sitting out in a well-ventilated area. Wait for the paint thinner to completely dry into clumps, then seal the whole can in a plastic bag before putting it in the trash.


  • Never pour paint thinner down a drain.
  • Keep the paint thinner away from pets or children if leaving it out to dry.
  • Cats love to eat this stuff!!!!

Things You'll Need

  • Garden hose
  • Paper
  • Glass or plastic container
  • Sawdust or cat litter
  • Plastic bag

Article Info

Categories: Reduce Recycle and Reuse