How to Empty a Fire Extinguisher

Updated April 17, 2017

Fire extinguishers must be completely empty before you recycle or dispose of them. If you have discharged your extinguisher for any reason, you cannot use it again until it has been properly recharged or replaced, even if it is still partially full.

Take the fire extinguisher to an open area, preferably outdoors. Open the garbage bag and put on the gloves.

Pull the pin at the top of the fire extinguisher. Point the nozzle inside the garbage bag and squeeze the lever.

Empty the canister completely. Seal the garbage bag and dispose of it with your regular household trash.

Contact your local fire station to have your fire extinguisher serviced and refilled. If you wish to dispose of it, check the pressure gauge to make sure all of the pressure has been released, remove the head of the extinguisher, and put it with your household garbage or take it to a recycling centre.


When you replace your fire extinguisher, look for one rated "ABC." This type of extinguisher is effective on most small household fires and is a common choice for personal use.


If you are unable to empty your fire extinguisher, you must treat it as hazardous waste. Contact your local fire brigade or hazardous waste facility to learn how to safely dispose of the canister. Some cities conduct exchange and recycle programs for pressurised canisters.

Things You'll Need

  • Gloves
  • Garbage bag
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About the Author

Denise Howard has been writing since 2004, specializing in home and garden, travel, music and education. A private music instructor and professional accompanist, Howard holds a Bachelor of Arts in music, studying both piano and voice.