The Right Way To Dispose Of Nail Polish

If you paint your nails at home, you've probably acquired more than a few nail polish bottles. Even if you only have a couple, it's much harder to finish them than you might have assumed, considering how each bottle seems to last forever, for better or for worse.

Unfortunately, you can't just toss your half-finished nail polish bottles into the trash. Nail polish is a highly flammable substance because of its acetone base, per Firefighter Insider, so the United States Environmental Protection Agency classifies it as Household Hazardous Waste (HHW). In other words, you can't safely dispose of your nail polish by tossing it in the trash. Don't even think about pouring it down the sink, either — it's composed of chemicals that can be problematic for your plumbing and contaminate the water system, says The David Suzuki Foundation. We want to teach you how to properly dispose of your nail polish bottles, including the empty ones that still have polish residue.

How to properly dispose of nail polish

Since nail polish is classified as HHW, you should locate the nearest HHW disposal facility and ask about bringing in your old bottles. If you're having trouble, you can use the Earth911 Recycling Search, which finds facilities close to you that accept different types of hazardous waste. However, you still might want to call ahead. According to Earth911, many HHW facilities only consider items from residents, so be sure to confirm your eligibility. Even if you aren't eligible to drop off your waste, they may still be able to point you towards a location you can access.

While it's vital to dispose of hazardous waste safely, we should also try to minimize waste whenever possible. If you're getting rid of your nail polish just because you're no longer fond of the color, consider gifting it to a friend or using it to color-code your belongings. You can use nail polish can to differentiate keys, color-code folder tabs, or even paint your initials on belongings that others might steal or mistake as theirs. For example, you could use nail polish to write your initials on reusable food containers if you lend them out often. You will successfully upcycle and save money on label makers.