How to Dispose of Spray Paint Cans

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


Never store paint near heat sources.

Always follow your local laws for disposing of potentially hazardous materials.

Make sure your spray can is completely empty before you dispose of it.
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The contents of spray paint cans are under high pressure, which is why you can't just throw them in the garbage. They could explode if submitted to heat or extreme pressure in a garbage truck. 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 be fined for disposing them with your regular garbage.


Step 1

Lay down several sheets of newspaper on the ground outside. Completely cover the area you will be working in.

Step 2

Point the spray nozzle at the newspaper and depress the button. 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.

Step 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.

Step 4

Dispose of the completely empty cans in your regular trash.



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.