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How to Dispose of Spray Paint Cans

Spray paint cans are volatile because of the aerosol pressure they contain and can explode when submitted to heat or extreme pressure in a garbage collection vehicle. While empty cans can be disposed of in your household garbage, cans with even a small amount of paint left unused can be a safety and environmental hazard. Proper disposal of spray paint cans is important; in some places you can receive a fine for disposing them with your regular garbage.

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  1. Lay down several sheets of newspaper outside in a well-ventilated area. Completely cover the area you will be working in.

  2. Point the spray nozzle at the newspaper and depress. If no paint comes out and there isn't a hissing noise, the can is empty. Otherwise, spray the paint onto the newspaper until it's empty.

  3. Shake the can if nothing comes out to judge whether it is empty. If you are unsure, assume there is still paint in the can.

  4. Contact your waste management company or local dump to learn the proper way for disposal. Empty cans most likely can be placed in your regular trash. Cans with paint inside will need to be brought to or picked up by a hazardous waste facility, which might charge a small fee.

  5. Tip

    Buy spray only as you need it to avoid disposal of old, half-empty cans.


    Never store paint near heat sources.

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Things You'll Need

  • Newspapers

About the Author

Jenny Harrington

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.

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