Trash Talk 

How to Dispose of Paint Thinner

How to Dispose of Paint Thinner

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After years of buying cheap disposable paint brushes, we finally invested in some quality ones. What a difference it makes! These superior paint brushes apply paint more evenly without leaving bristle or brush marks in the finish.

The bristles don’t fall out, so you don’t have stray fibers in your paint finish. You also get a nice straight line without leaving a jagged-looking edge. The investment in good quality brushes costs more up-front, but saves you the hassle of having to correct your painting job.

Of course, there is one drawback—you have to clean the brushes after use. You don’t get to just throw them out. When using water-based paint, this involves rinsing them well with warm water and a mild soap.

Oil-based paint will not clean up in this way. With oil-based paint, it is easy to clean your brushes when you use paint thinner to do the job. Paint thinner does exactly what its name implies. It thins down paint, decreasing its viscosity.

What is Paint Thinner For (Besides Paint)

Paint thinner has several applications. It is used to adjust the thickness of a paint. This is often done when paint is loaded into a paint sprayer or if you are applying very thin coats of paint to a surface. It also makes it easy to get paint out of a paint brush.

Paint thinner is commonly used to clean oil-based paints and stains from paint rollers, brushes, and tools. It’s great at dissolving paint on surfaces, making it easy to wipe away old paint, and lets you easily remove paint from screws, hinges, and other metal surfaces. Some types of paint thinner are also useful when cleaning machinery, equipment, and guns.

It is very helpful when trying to use old paint that has been stored for some time. Paint thickens over time and can form lumps. Adding some paint thinner and mixing well can restore this paint, making it easier to use for touch up or new projects.

Hazards of Paint Thinner

What is paint thinner? What we call paint thinner refers to any solvent than can change the viscosity of oil-based paint. The term “paint thinner” is a catch-all term for several types of solvents that act in this way. These are examples of solvents that can be used as paint thinner:

·       Acetone

·       Mineral spirits

·       Naphtha

·       Turpentine

·       Xylene

·       Toluene

·       Glycol ethers

·       Methyl ethyl ketone (MEK)

·       Dimethylformamide (DMF)

When used properly in a well-ventilated area, paint thinner is safe to use. However, excess paint thinner exposure can cause respiratory problems or an allergic reaction, leading to headaches, nausea, eye irritation, burning nasal passages, and throat pain. In severe cases, this exposure can affect the nervous system, leading to cardiorespiratory damage and chronic kidney inflammation.

It is important to ensure proper ventilation when using paint thinner. It evaporates easily and fumes can build up quickly in an unventilated room. It also acts as a skin irritant. Always wear rubber gloves and use safety glasses when handling or using paint thinner.

Paint Thinner Should Not Go in a Dumpster


Cody Inside Sales Representative Discount Dumpster Rental

"Paint thinner and other solvents are hazardous chemicals. All hazardous chemical products are prohibited in dumpsters. They're not good for landfills. Whatever isn't good for a landfill isn't good for a dumpster."

- Cody Herbert, Discount Dumpster Operations Manager

Many landfills do not allow the disposal of hazardous or flammable materials. Even empty paint thinner containers pose major hazards. Paint thinner can easily catch fire due to its low flash point. The flash point of a liquid is the temperature at which it puts out sufficient vapor to ignite.

Liquids are considered flammable when they have a flash point of lower than 199 degrees Fahrenheit. Paint thinner has a much lower flash point of 104 degrees Fahrenheit, making it extremely flammable. Because of this, used paint thinner typically can’t be disposed of in your regular trash or in a dumpster container.

Paint thinner should also not be placed into your recycling bin. If it was stored in a plastic container, this container should not be set out for recycling, even when emptied of solvent. The container should be taken along with the used paint thinner to an HHW facility.

How to Dispose of Paint Thinner

Using paint thinner is not without risks, and it requires some special handling when disposing of it. Due to its toxic properties, paint thinner should never be poured down a sink drain or into a street gutter. This can contaminate your community’s water supply.

Do not pour paint thinner in a grassy area or a hard ground surface. It will kill vegetation and can run off into the street and into storm gutters during rain storms.

Instead of disposing of paint thinner, consider reusing it. Contamination of this solvent comes from suspended particulates. To remove them from the liquid, place the used paint thinner in a jar with a lid and close tightly.

Allow the jar to sit for several days. Eventually, the sludge and paint particles in the paint thinner will settle out to the bottom of the jar.

This leaves a clear layer of solvent at the top. Carefully pour this clean paint thinner into a second jar and close tightly with a lid. To get it as clean as possible, you can pour this through a coffee filter.

This cleaned paint thinner can be reused several times. Once it is too contaminated to clear completely, dispose of this contaminated solvent properly.

If you must dispose of unused paint thinner, it is important to handle and properly dispose of it properly. Follow these guidelines to keep you, your family, and your community safe:

An infographic detailing how to dispose of paint thinner
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1.     Give Away Leftover Paint Thinner

When properly cleared of sediment, used paint thinner is still suitable for use. If you have no need for it or don’t want to store it, offer it to a family member, friend, or neighbor.

2.     Dispose of Soaked Rags Carefully

Rags that have been soaked in paint thinner or used for cleanup end up being combustible. This means that they can easily catch fire. To properly dispose of them, place them in an air-tight metal or glass container and cover them with water.

This container should then be disposed of properly. Alternatively, you can lay the rags out in a well-ventilated area or outdoors until they are thoroughly dry. Gather the dried cloths and place them in a fireproof container and dispose of properly.

3.     Let Paint Thinner Dry Out

You can completely dry out paint thinners. If you are disposing of a larger quantity of paint thinner, you can add some kitty litter, sawdust, or sand to the container to speed up the drying process. Do not let the paint thinner evaporate in an enclosed area.

Also, be sure to check for any paint sludge remains. Paint residue can be hazardous in its own right

4.     Disposal of Paint Thinner

Once the solvent is dried, wrap up the jar in some newspaper. Place this into a plastic trash bag and tie it tightly.

5.     Toss Out with Household Trash

One alternative for paint thinner disposal is to place it out with your residential trash. However, this is not allowed in all areas. You should ask your trash hauler if this is permitted. Even if it is, this is not a preferred method of disposal of paint thinner.

6.     Hazardous Waste Collection Site

The best method for disposal of used paint thinner is to bring it to a household hazardous waste center (HHW) facility in your community. The solvent must be in an airtight class or metal container to be accepted by the hazardous waste facility. To find a hazardous waste collection facility near you, visit Earth911.

7.     Take Used Paint Thinner to a Community Collection Event

Many communities offer large trash collection events several times a year for residents. Often, these events will allow for the disposal of hazardous waste. You can find these events by checking your city’s website. Before heading out with your used paint thinner, check the guidelines for the collection event to ensure it is allowed for disposal.

Proper Storage of Paint Thinners

Paint thinner is a hazardous solvent that should be kept out of the reach of children and pets. These proper storage practices can keep your family safe from the harmful effects of paint thinner exposure:

·       Paint thinner is best stored in metal or glass containers. Paint thinner containers should have a tight-fitting lid, as paint thinner will evaporate if left uncovered.

·       OSHA has determined that a plastic container may be used to store paint thinner. It will not eat through a plastic bottle. However, a plastic bottle should not be used for long-term storage of paint thinner.

·       Label the container to avoid any confusion or mistakes.

·       You should never smoke or have an open flame near paint thinner.

·       Do not store paint thinner in areas that reach high temperatures.

·       Paint thinner should be stored in a dry, well-ventilated area.

·       Do not keep or store rags that have been soaked in paint thinner.

Need a Dumpster Rental for a Home Project?

Planning a home project? Renting a dumpster from Discount Dumpster is your best bet for easy and affordable junk removal services. However, if you're clearing out the garage or your art studio, do not place your used paint thinners in your dumpster! If you need help finding chemical disposal plants, our team can help you from start to finish.

Call to Get Started on Your Home Project - (888) 316-7010

About Monica Mayhak

I am an expert content writer with a depth of experience in the waste management and dumpster industry, with over 25 years of experience writing about construction, home improvement, property management, and education topics. As lead research writer for Discount Dumpster, I have expanded my knowledge and understanding of waste management, construction, and environmental issues over the past several years.

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