The Right Way To Dispose Of Nail Polish Remover

Nail polish remover is the strong-smelling liquid solvent you use to remove nail lacquer, usually made with Isopropyl acetone, methyl ethyl ketone, and n-methyl-pyrrolidone, as Safe Cosmetics notes. These harsh chemicals are great against traditional nail polish but can also cause environmental and health dangers, so acetone should be handled carefully when disposing of it. We'll walk you through how to properly and safely dispose of nail polish remover in this guide.

First, here are some things to keep in mind when discarding this harsh chemical solution. According to Napa Recycling, you should not flush it or put it down the drain as this contaminates waterways. The same goes for dumping it on the ground, which can contaminate water and damage the soil. If you use acetone to clean coins or other similar objects, you don't need to discard it after use; just filter the solids and reuse it. And, finally, per the International Labor Organization, you should never place nail polish remover near an open flame, as it is highly combustible. But then, how do you get rid of it? Read on to find out.

Why is acetone dangerous?

Because we have nail polish remover in most of our homes, it may not seem to be that dangerous of a chemical. However, if you've ever walked into a nail salon, you'll notice many, if not all, nail technicians are wearing masks. This is because, in addition to the harsh chemicals found in nail glue and dead skin cells in the air, exposure to acetone can cause dizziness and irritated eyes, skin, and throat, OSHA explains.

Even if you are only occasionally using acetone to remove nail polish or another project around the house, it is indeed hazardous waste, and you should treat it as such. In addition, when handling nail polish remover, you should wear gloves and a face mask when possible. How To Dispose also recommends ensuring that you have proper ventilation, so try opening a window or turning on a fan when using or disposing of nail polish remover.

Safely disposing of acetone

If you have extra nail polish remover left in the bottle, the best thing you can do is take it to a hazardous waste disposal facility. Again, because acetone is a highly flammable liquid, it needs to be properly and safely treated. You can do a quick search to find a waste management facility near you where you can take your remaining nail polish remover. When transporting the chemical-infused solution, be sure to place it in a leakproof container to avoid it spilling on yourself, a vehicle, or elsewhere Home Ardent advises.

If you only have a small amount of nail polish remover, as in a teaspoon or so, you may be able to avoid a trip to the hazardous waste facility. In this case, just dab the rest of the acetone on a cotton swab or pad as if you are going to remove nail polish. Then, place the cotton swab in a small tied-close plastic bag and dispose of it in your trash. After, as Napa Recycling recommends, you can put the lid back on the container and place it in your recycling bin.