How To Dispose Of Empty Spray Paint Cans

How To Dispose Of Empty Spray Paint Cans

If you’ve used up all of that amazing spray paint and now the can is empty, you might not know what to do with it. Disposing of empty spray paint can be tricky, especially if you live in a small apartment with no outdoor space. You don’t want to leave the can out where it could pose a danger or get knocked over and start spraying inside your home. If you have access to a front or backyard, placing the can outside is probably the best option. If not, read on for some great tips on how to dispose of empty spray paint cans.

How To Dispose Of An Empty Spray Paint Can? 

Turn it into the manufacturer

This is the first option because it is the simplest. If you have the branded spray paint can in your possession, then you can just turn it into the manufacturer to have it properly disposed of. This is probably your simplest option when it comes to getting rid of an empty spray paint can. You don’t have to do anything special to prepare it or put it in a special bag or container. Just bring it to the store where you purchased it and ask to have it disposed of. This is the easiest and most convenient way to get rid of an empty spray paint can. However, if you don’t have the can in your possession, then you will not be able to turn it into the manufacturer for disposal. For this reason, you’ll have to go through one of the other options. 

Flush it with water

This is probably the least common option you’ll see and is a last resort if you don’t have access to any of the other, better options. This is really only an option if you have a paint can with solvent-based paint in it. While water-based paint is less toxic, it can still be harmful to the environment and should not be disposed of in this way. If you have solvent-based paint in your can, then the best thing to do is dispose of it in a special container with water. You don’t want to leave it out in the open to pose any threat to wildlife or pollute water sources.

Incinerate it

If you have any kind of solvent-based spray paint can, then this is the best way to dispose of it. This is the best option because it destroys the can, the contents, and any potential harm posed by the materials inside. You can take the paint can to a local recycling plant where it will be incinerated. Because the can is metal, it can be recycled back into new products. Some recycling plants will take the can and give you a credit for it that can be used towards other products. However, many will just dispose of the can for you. If you have a water-based spray paint can, then you don’t want to incinerate it as it can cause harm to the environment. You can find a local recycling center or hazardous waste disposal facility where you can take the can to have it properly discarded. You may have to pay a fee to have the can disposed of, but it is worth it to be safe.

Bury it

If you have an empty spray paint can that has water-based paint in it, then you can bury it. However, it must be completely dry before you can bury it. You don’t want to risk groundwater contamination. To bury it, you dig a hole deep enough that no one can dig it up. You want the paint can to be completely covered. While this may sound silly, it is actually a very common practice. Many people bury the cans to dispose of them. The advantage to this is that you can bury it just about anywhere. It may not be a practical option if you live in an area with a lot of people around. But, if you live in a rural area where no one will see it, then this may be a good option for you.

Find a creative way to reuse it

If you have a water-based spray paint can in your possession, then you can recycle it. However, if you don’t have the can in your possession, then you won’t be able to recycle it. Instead, you can find other creative ways to reuse the can. One common way to reuse spray paint cans is to turn them into planters. Many people will take the cans, clean them out thoroughly, and then plant flowers or other plants inside them. You can also use them as decorative items around your home or office. You can cut them up to create interesting shapes and designs. 

Why Dispose Of Empty Spray Paint Cans?

The Toxins In Spray Paint Cans Are Dangerous

When you are done with a can of spray paint, a lot of people just throw the can out with their regular trash. From an environmental point of view, this is absolutely terrible because the can contains toxins that can leach into the ground and contaminate nearby soil and water. The fumes that come from spraying the paint can also be very dangerous when inhaled, and children and pets are particularly vulnerable to the fumes. Additionally, many spray paints contain metals that have low biodegradability. This means that the paint cans can take a long time to break down and will remain in the soil for a very long time, contaminating it with harmful toxins.

They’re Full of Scrap Metal

Even though spray paint cans are made of light aluminum, when you throw them out with regular trash, they can cause a lot of problems. When those cans go to the local landfill, the metal in the cans will rust and cause a lot of soil contamination. The metal pieces inside the cans are also a major problem when it comes to sorting the trash. If the cans are not separated out properly, they will get stuck in the machinery and cause it to malfunction, which is a very expensive mistake. The metal pieces in the cans will also cause a lot of sparks, which can cause a fire inside the recycling plant. If a fire breaks out inside the plant, it will cause a lot of damage and will put a lot of people at risk.

Spray Cans Are Very Heavy

Spray paint cans are made out of aluminum, which is a very light metal. However, those cans will rapidly add up to a very heavy amount of discarded metal. The amount of metal that can be found in a single can of spray paint is enough to contaminate the soil of an entire acre of land. This means that throwing out one can with your regular trash can cause a lot of problems. Additionally, the cans are usually filled to the brim with liquid, which makes them even heavier. Some large cities will have a limit on how much weight can be put in a single bag or container. If the haulers are already over the weight limit, they may refuse to take the can, which would mean leaving it behind.

They Have High Levels of VOCs

VOCs are short for volatile organic compounds, and they are a major problem when it comes to household waste. When these compounds are released into the air, they can cause a lot of damage to the environment and human health. VOCs are often found in paints and finishes, but they can also be found in spray paint cans. When you throw away an empty spray paint can, it will release these VOCs into the air and pollute the soil and water near the landfill. It can also cause respiratory issues for people living nearby the landfill. The good news is that there are a few ways to get rid of empty spray cans without polluting the environment.

3 Ways To Destroy A Spray Paint Can (Safely)

Spray paint cans contain flammable substances, so you don’t want to just throw them in the trash. Luckily, there are a few different ways to destroy a spray paint can and safely dispose of it. 

  1. First, you can pour gasoline into the can. Close the top tightly and shake the can vigorously. Once the can is full of gasoline, open the top, light the gasoline and let it burn out. Alternatively, you can also throw the can in a fire and let the can burn out. Second, you can crush the can. 
  2. You can do this by using a sledgehammer or a press. You can also place the can in a heavy-duty garbage bag and crush it with a hammer or press. 
  3. Finally, you can simply throw the can in the trash. You must first crush the can and place it in a heavy-duty garbage bag.


Spray paint cans contain flammable substances and are not designed to be thrown away in the trash. If you’ve used up all the spray paint in the can, you must empty it out, crush the can, or press it and place it in a heavy-duty garbage bag before throwing it away. Before you dispose of empty spray paint can make sure you empty the contents, crush the can and place it in a heavy-duty garbage bag. If you do not follow these steps, you could cause serious health hazards and environmental damage.