How to Dispose of Spray Paint? – Learn Here

Randy Charles
Professional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years...Read more

Are you puzzled about how to safely dispose of your used spray paint cans? Improperly discarded aerosol cans can pose significant environmental and safety risks.

Dispose Of Spray Paint

This article offers a clear, step-by-step guide on managing these household items responsibly.

Everything from identifying empty cans, local regulations, safe disposal methods to common mistakes are covered here; guaranteeing an eco-friendly goodbye to your old spray paints!

Understanding Aerosol Can Disposal

Aerosol can disposal involves understanding the risks of flammable cans, distinguishing between empty and full ones, and being aware of local laws and regulations.

The risks of flammable aerosol cans

Spray paint cans can catch fire. Heat or flames can set them off. This is dangerous and can cause harm to people or things near the fire. It’s also risky for our earth when these cans burn up in a landfill.

Proper care must be taken with flammable aerosol cans, like spray paint, to avoid fires and keep us all safe.

Differentiating between empty and full cans

Full and empty spray paint cans are not the same. An easy way to tell is by shaking the can. If you hear a sloshing sound, it means there’s still paint inside. No sound often shows an empty can.

Yet, be sure! A can seems empty might still hold some gas or liquid.

Empty aerosol cans go into your recycle bin. They must be all the way empty though! Full or partly full cans need special care for safe disposal of spray paint. These count as hazardous waste because they are flammable.

Do not put full cans in with regular trash or recycling bins.

Local laws and regulations for disposal

You must know local laws about spray can disposal. In some places, it’s against the law to throw full cans in regular trash. Places like California have strict rules for getting rid of spray paint cans.

People caught breaking these rules may have to pay a fine.

Most towns host household hazardous waste collection days. On these days, you can take your old or extra paint there for safe getting rid of. You can also go to special collection centers that exist all year round in some areas.

They will handle your aerosol cans in a safe way that follows the law.

Proper Disposal Methods for Empty Aerosol Cans

Recycle empty aerosol cans; take them to a metal scrap yard; use proper storage techniques.

Recycling empty aerosol cans

Recycling empty aerosol cans is an easy and environmentally friendly way to dispose of them. Here are some options for recycling spray paint cans:

  1. Take them to special recycling events: Many communities hold recycling events where you can drop off empty aerosol cans, including spray paint cans. Check with your local recycling center or waste management facility for information on upcoming events.
  2. Bring them to scrap metal processors: Some scrap metal processors accept empty aerosol cans for recycling. These facilities will properly handle the cans and recycle the metal components. You may even receive cash for turning in your empty cans.
  3. Use a household hazardous waste program: Many cities and municipalities have programs in place for safely disposing of household hazardous waste, including aerosol cans. These programs ensure that the cans are disposed of properly and do not harm the environment.

Taking them to a metal scrap yard

To properly dispose of empty aerosol cans, you can consider taking them to a nearby metal scrap yard. These facilities accept metal items like spray paint cans for recycling.

By doing so, you not only ensure that the cans are recycled responsibly but also contribute to reducing waste and conserving resources.

Remember, though, before taking the cans to the scrap yard, make sure they are completely empty to avoid any potential hazards during transportation and processing.

It’s always important to follow local regulations and guidelines when it comes to disposing of spray paint cans and other hazardous materials.

Keep in mind that proper disposal methods help protect the environment and ensure everyone’s safety.

Proper storage techniques

Store empty aerosol cans in a cool, dry place away from heat sources or direct sunlight.

  • Keep them in a well-ventilated area to prevent the build-up of pressure inside the can.
  • Avoid storing aerosol cans near open flames or ignition sources.
  • Do not stack or crush the cans, as this could cause damage and leaks.
  • Make sure the cans are stored upright to prevent accidental spills or leaks.
  • If you have multiple empty aerosol cans, consider using a sturdy box or container to keep them organized and secure.

Disposing of Full or Partially-Full Aerosol Cans

Properly disposing of full or partially-full aerosol cans is crucial for the safety of both individuals and the environment.

Understanding the correct methods to treat hazardous waste cans and finding special recycling events or scrap metal processors can help ensure responsible disposal.

Read on to learn more about how to safely dispose of spray paint cans.

Treating hazardous waste cans appropriately

To treat hazardous waste cans properly, it is important to follow the proper guidelines for disposal. Hazardous waste cans should never be thrown in the regular trash or recycling bins.

Instead, they should be taken to a designated Household Hazardous Waste Program or Special Collection Center for safe disposal.

These facilities have the equipment and knowledge to handle hazardous materials safely and prevent any harm to the environment.

It is important to research local regulations and guidelines for disposing of hazardous waste cans in your area.

By treating these cans appropriately, you are helping protect both yourself and the environment from potential harm caused by improper disposal practices.

Special recycling events or scrap metal processors

You can also look for special recycling events or scrap metal processors in your area. These events or facilities are specifically designed to handle and recycle items like aerosol cans.

They often have designated drop-off locations where you can safely dispose of your spray paint cans.

Scrap metal processors are another option, as they specialize in the recycling and processing of metal materials, including empty aerosol cans.

It’s a good idea to check local listings or contact your waste management agency to find out about any upcoming special recycling events or scrap metal processors near you.

By taking advantage of these resources, you can ensure that your spray paint cans are properly recycled and not thrown away with regular trash.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Disposing of Spray Paint Cans

Leaving the cap on, not ensuring the can is empty, attempting to depressurize the can oneself, trying to remove the nozzle, and incorrectly assuming the proper disposal bin are all common mistakes that should be avoided when disposing of spray paint cans.

To learn more about these mistakes and how to properly dispose of spray paint cans, continue reading.

Leaving the cap on

Leaving the cap on when disposing of spray paint cans can be a common mistake. It’s important to remove the cap before recycling or disposing of the can.

The reason for this is that any leftover paint in the can could cause pressure buildup over time, which can be dangerous.

By removing the cap, you allow any remaining paint to dry out and reduce the risk of accidents during disposal.

So remember, always take off the cap before getting rid of your spray paint cans to ensure safe and proper disposal.

Not ensuring the can is empty

It is crucial to make sure that the spray paint can is completely empty before disposing of it. This means using up all the paint inside and spraying until no more comes out.

If you throw away a partially full can, it could lead to accidents or environmental harm.

Always check if the can is truly empty by giving it a few short sprays in a well-ventilated area.

Remember, recycling only accepts completely empty aerosol cans, so take that extra step to ensure proper disposal.

Attempting to depressurize the can oneself

Depressurizing the spray paint can yourself is not recommended. It can be dangerous and may cause explosions or injuries.

It’s best to leave this task to professionals who have the knowledge and experience in handling aerosol cans safely.

Trying to depressurize the can on your own could lead to accidents, as you might not know the correct procedure or have access to the necessary equipment.

To ensure your safety and protect the environment, it’s important to follow proper disposal methods and rely on recycling programs or household hazardous waste facilities in your area for disposing of aerosol cans correctly.

Trying to remove the nozzle

To dispose of spray paint cans properly, it is important to avoid trying to remove the nozzle. This can be dangerous because there may still be pressure inside the can.

Instead, follow the recommended disposal methods such as recycling empty aerosol cans or taking them to a household hazardous waste program.

By following these steps, you can ensure that you are disposing of spray paint cans in a safe and environmentally-friendly way while also complying with local regulations.

Incorrectly assuming the proper disposal bin

It is a common mistake to assume that any disposal bin is appropriate for spray paint cans. However, this can lead to improper disposal and potential harm to the environment.

It’s important to research and follow local regulations for disposing of aerosol cans, as different areas may have specific guidelines.

In California, for example, there are specific regulations and guidelines for spray paint can disposal.

By assuming the proper disposal bin without checking local regulations, you risk contributing to pollution and potentially facing fines or penalties.

Always take the time to properly dispose of your spray paint cans according to local guidelines and ensure they end up in the right hands for recycling or safe handling.


Disposing of spray paint cans properly is important to protect the environment and ensure safety. Remember to check local laws and regulations for disposal guidelines.

Recycling empty aerosol cans and treating full or partially-full cans as hazardous waste are recommended methods.

Avoid common mistakes like leaving the cap on or trying to depressurize the can yourself. By following these easy steps, you can responsibly dispose of your spray paint cans and contribute to a cleaner, healthier planet.


How should I dispose of empty spray paint cans?

Empty spray paint cans can be safely disposed of in your regular household trash, as long as they are completely empty and the nozzle is removed.

Can I recycle used spray paint cans?

Used spray paint cans can often be recycled, depending on your local recycling guidelines. Make sure to check with your municipality or recycling center for specific instructions.

What should I do with partially filled or unused spray paint cans?

If you have partially filled or unused spray paint cans, it’s best to take them to a hazardous waste facility in your area for proper disposal. These facilities are equipped to handle potentially harmful materials.

Is it safe to throw away dried-up or solidified spray paint?

Dried-up or solidified spray paint should not be thrown away in regular trash as it may still contain chemicals that could harm the environment. Contact your local waste management facility for guidance on how to dispose of these items properly.

Are there any alternatives to disposing of unwanted spray paints?

Randy CharlesProfessional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years of experience in the painting industry, Randy has become an expert in the field and is passionate about helping others learn more about painting. He has written numerous articles on the subject and is committed to providing accurate and up-to-date information to his readers.

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