Where I live there are companies that dispose of hazardous or chemical waste but they only work with companies and with large quantities. For the common citizen there seems there are no options to have it collected by them. Nobody bothers with half a litter of solvent which is the quantity I'm trying to dispose of.

So... is there a safe way to dispose of paint thinner?

EDIT to add some context to the question. It just depicts the situation where I live. Read on if you are curious, otherwise it doesn't add much to the question.

I live in Romania, in the capital city. We have one of the lowest rates of recycling in Europe. And that's for common things like plastic, glass, metal and paper, so all companies that are in the recycling business usually handle these items only because it doesn't make sense commercially to bother with something else because of the low recycling rate. A lot of things end up in land fills or in rivers because people are uneducated when it comes to recycling or just don't care. Examples:

  • in most large cities the municipality provides recycling containers for glass, plastic, metal, and paper. A lot of stores selectively collect their trash so you could bring it with you next time you go shopping. You can also recycle at in the building where you live if the building administration cares enough to provide containers to recycle (you need to keep an eye on the containers and when they are full you need to make a phone call for trucks to come collect them, etc, so most don't care). So it's fairly easy to safely dispose of plastic, glass, paper and metal.
  • electronics. Now it starts to get complicated. There are governmental programs for large electronics like fridges or washing machines. You bring it to the store when you buy a new appliance and you get a discount. There are companies that collect them too and give you value coupons you can use in large stores. A lot of collecting centers do handle them because they contain metal and plastic, but you have to bring them to them. Most people don't bother and leave them in the street for trash scavengers (they indirectly get recycled I guess). If you have a phone or a laptop... good luck. Some telecom companies take old phones to be properly disposed of, but most don't bother, they just throw it in the trash. Once or twice a year there are campaigns to collect all sorts of electronics, but you do need to keep it around the house until that time. Most don't bother.
  • batteries, light bulbs, and florescent light bulbs. Most large stores have containers to collect them. Hypermarkets for example. But people just toss them in the trash.
  • medication and drugs. Some pharmacies collect expired medication to safely dispose (not all, large ones though do collect them). Most people don't bother though. They throw it in the trash or down the drain to end up in some river somewhere.
  • user cooking oil. Auto shops and gas stations usually collect it. They do oil changes and stuff and need to safely dispose of the old oil. They can do so for whatever you bring from home also. Most people don't bother, they just pour it in the sink.
  • bio-hazard materials. These are usually not available for the population, but there are companies that pick them up from hospitals and doctor cabinets. These end up in the trash or down the drain for the common citizen.
  • chemical waste like paints and solvent. This is my case. People usually throw them in the trash or in the toilet, so there is not much demand for them for recycling companies. As such, not many collect them. There aren't a lot of places where you can dispose of them. And they don't usually bother with small quantities.

The only chance I have is to find some paint shop or something and see if they can take it. Slim chance though. Most employees, not knowing if it's possible, will just say no. The only remaining option is to let it evaporate, although I don't know what that does to the environment. I don't need the solvent anymore and I don't want to store it because I don't have a safe place to do so outside my apartment (and I don't want to keep it inside).

  • 2
    There's no community hazardous waste disposal center? If not permanently, there could be a special time of month where they open one just for things like this.
    – JPhi1618
    Jul 18, 2019 at 20:29
  • 1
    Where are you posting from?
    – J Crosby
    Jul 18, 2019 at 21:10
  • Used paint thinner from brush cleaning I assume? In my area most actual paint stores will accept it for recycling if you have a receipt from buying it there. (the big box stores don’t tho)
    – Tyson
    Jul 18, 2019 at 23:24
  • @JCrosby: see my edit above.
    – Pips
    Jul 19, 2019 at 13:18
  • 1
    Have you checked with the auto shops which you say they will sometime let people bring in used oil? I would imagine they have a bunch of paint thinner/cleaner/other solvents to dispose of, too, since those types of things are used in repair shops as well. Mar 31, 2021 at 12:50

3 Answers 3


There is the "anything wrong with just keeping it until you need some thinner, or putting it on craigslist or the local bulletin board as a free item?" Better to use it, ideally. Properly sealed it should not go bad.

Fairly common to have a sporadic household hazardous waste day (might be as few as two per year, might be more frequent) typically either at the transfer station or the fire department. You'll have to look for information about that locally. Reduces water pollution from people dumping things they should not down the drain.

Otherwise your options depend a lot on where you are. Out in rural areas, easy enough to burn it off without a problem. In urban/suburban areas that is much more of a problem, so not really an option.


See if there is an eco-zone drop off. Many cities have them. They also accept paint remnants, weed killer, roofing tar, batteries, and fluorescent light bulbs.

Second solution. Used thinner can put bottled, and set aside to settle. Leave for a few months, and most of the paint will ahve settled to the bottom. Decant the clear solution to a new container. allow the old one to dry, and discard. (This will result in small quantities of thinner to evaporate into the air. What pine trees have been doing for a lloooooooonnnnnnngg time)

  • Turpentine and paint thinner are different paint thinner is a petroleum derivative turpentine a pine resin derivative
    – Kris
    Jul 19, 2019 at 2:39
  • @Kris, it doesn't matter. Refined and distilled pine resin is volatile just like petroleum derivatives... Jul 19, 2019 at 5:42

Use an absorbent liquid waste solidifier, there are a bunch of different such products available. They solidify hazardous liquids by polymerization, making them safe to dispose of in the regular garbage/landfill. Not very expensive either...

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