If you’re a nail polish user, odds are you’ve revisited a bottle of your favorite polish, only to discover that it’s not the same consistency as it used to be. Or you’ve found that you simply don’t like the color anymore and have no use for it.

So, is your only option throwing your nail polish bottle in the trash? Not only should you not throw your nail polish bottle in the trash, but it is actually unsafe to do so.

Nail polish is considered household hazardous waste in most states, making it not only unsafe to put in the trash, but illegal to do so.

Nail polish is also full of toxic chemicals that can make their way into waterways or affect air quality if burned in an incinerator, making this a potentially life-threatening product when not disposed of properly.

In this article, we take a look at how to safely and properly dispose of nail polish.

What is Nail Polish Made Of?

So, what makes this substance so toxic (and why are we putting it on our nails if it is)? Nail polish includes three main components: hardening or thickening agents, solvents, and pigments that create the color, all of which are made up of potentially harmful ingredients.

Recycle Nation explains more on what nail polish is made of and the effects it can have on animals, the environment and you:

“Some nail polish brands also contain a number of chemicals that are harmful to human and animal health.

The three most talked-about are toluene, which helps polish go on smoothly and stick to fingernails; formaldehyde, which helps the polish harden; and dibutyl phthalate, which prevents polish from becoming brittle once it is applied to your fingers or toes.

Toluene and formaldehyde are both known carcinogens. Dibutyl phthalate, like BPA plastic, is considered an endocrine disruptor, which means it disrupts hormone function and can affect fertility.

The harmful chemicals described above should not be released into the environment, even in very small quantities.

In addition, they are flammable, which can create serious problems for waste haulers. That is why fingernail polish is considered household hazardous waste and must be disposed of properly.”

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Can You Recycle Nail Polish Bottles?

So, what about the nail polish bottles themselves? Since they’re usually made of glass, can they be recycled by themselves? While this is possible, they must contain no trace of the nail polish itself.

Melanie Macleod of tells us what popular nail polish brands have to say on whether their nail polish bottles can be recycled:

“Cienna Rose, Nails Inc, Mavala and Barry M concurred that the bottle needed to be thoroughly cleaned with acetone and dried. “Although it can be a little lengthy, you must clean them out with an acetone solution,” said Barry M.

“Once the glass part of the bottle is empty and clean, this part can then be recycled. ” They added, “We’re actively working to come up with a speedier and simpler solution to encourage all of our customers to recycle their bottles.”

Why is Proper Nail Polish Disposal Important?

Nail polish contains harmful chemicals that can harm the environment if not disposed of properly.

Many nail polishes contain chemicals such as formaldehyde, toluene, and phthalates, which are known to harm human health and the environment.

These chemicals can contaminate water sources and harm aquatic life if not disposed of properly. Proper disposal of nail polish is crucial to protecting the environment and human health.

Ways to Properly Dispose of Nail Polish

The only way to properly dispose of nail polish is to treat it as hazardous waste. This is because nail polish contains toxic chemicals that can harm the environment if not disposed of properly.

Here’s how to dispose of nail polish safely:

1. Check with Your Local Waste Management Facility

First, check with your local waste management facility to determine if they accept nail polish as hazardous waste. If they do, they will likely have specific instructions for packaging and labeling it for disposal.

If your local waste management facility does not accept nail polish as hazardous waste, they may have other suggestions for safely disposing of it.

2. Use a Nail Polish Thinner

If your local waste management facility does not accept nail polish as hazardous waste, you can purchase a nail polish thinner that is designed to dissolve the polish. Pour the thinner into the nail polish bottle and let it sit for a few hours.

Then, pour the mixture onto a piece of paper or a paper towel and let it dry. Once it’s completely dry, you can throw it away in the trash.

Only pour nail polish down the drain or throw it in the trash after treating it first. This can harm the environment and contaminate water sources. explains why this is the only option for disposing of your nail polish safely:

“Nail polish may look pretty, but it contains various toxic chemicals and is classified by the EPA as hazardous waste.

Never throw it in a garbage can or pour it down the sink, as it may pollute the local water supply.

Instead, take old nail polish, along with unwanted nail polish remover, to a household hazardous waste facility for safe disposal that won’t harm the planet.”

Ideas for Repurposing Nail Polish

If you have nail polish that is still usable but no longer wanted, consider repurposing it instead of throwing it away. Here are some ideas:

1. Use it for DIY Projects

You can use nail polish for various DIY projects, such as creating a marbled effect on ceramics or adding a pop of color to picture frames or jewelry.

2. Mark Your Belongings

Use nail polish to mark different items to help keep track of them. For example, you could use nail polish colors to mark keys on your keychain.

3. Create Your Own Nail Polish Color

To get creative, you can mix nail polish shades to create your custom color.

Benefits of Disposing of Nail Polish Safely

Once upon a time, a young woman named Sarah loved painting her nails with a fresh coat of colorful polish.

However, Sarah had never thought about how to dispose of her old nail polish bottles. That is, until one day, she learned the importance of properly disposing of nail polish.

As it turns out, nail polish contains nasty chemicals that can harm the environment if not disposed of properly.

Sarah was horrified at the thought of her old nail polish bottles leaching into the ground and polluting the earth.

So, she researched and discovered that the only way to safely dispose of nail polish is to treat it as hazardous waste.

Sarah didn’t want to risk harm to herself or the environment, so she decided to take matters into her own hands and properly dispose of her old nail polish bottles.

The benefits of disposing of nail polish safely quickly became apparent to Sarah. Not only was she doing her part to protect the environment, but she was also setting an example for others to follow.

She even started a trend among her friends and family, encouraging them to dispose of their nail polish properly.

But the benefits didn’t stop there. Sarah also discovered the joy of repurposing her old bottles of nail polish. She started using them for DIY projects, creating cool designs and patterns.

She even used nail polish to mark her belongings, which helped her keep track of her keys, phone, and other important items.

As it turns out, many fun and creative ways to repurpose old nail polish exist. Sarah had a blast experimenting with different colors and textures, and she felt great knowing she was doing her part to reduce waste and protect the environment.

In the end, Sarah learned that properly disposing of nail polish isn’t just the responsible thing to do – it’s also a lot of fun!

So, the next time you find yourself with an old nail polish bottle, remember Sarah’s story and dispose of it safely. You might discover a new hobby along the way!

The Bottom Line

Nail polish can be a fun way to express yourself, but it’s important to dispose of it properly to protect the environment.

Remember to treat it as hazardous waste and check with your local waste management facility for specific instructions.

If you have usable nail polish you no longer want, consider repurposing it instead of throwing it away.

By following these tips, you can do your part to reduce waste and protect the environment.


Should you throw away old nail polish?

You should not throw away old nail polish in the regular trash as it can harm the environment. It should be treated as hazardous waste and disposed of properly.

Can you use nail polish after two years?

Using nail polish over two years old is generally not recommended. The polish can become thick, goopy, and hard to apply and may provide a different level of coverage and shine than fresh polish.

Should I keep nail polish in the fridge?

No, you don’t need to keep nail polish in the fridge. It is best to store nail polish in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and heat.

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