As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

If you’re a nail polish user, odds are you’ve revisited a bottle of your favourite 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.”

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 themselves.

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.”

How to Dispose of Nail Polish Safely


While we’ve established that we can technically recycle clean nail polish bottles, what do we do with the nail polish inside of it? Instead of removing the nail polish out of the bottle and trying to figure out what to do with it, it’s best to take both to a household hazardous waste facility. 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.”

We offer a wide variety of waste disposal options, including how to correctly dispose of household hazardous waste like nail polish, with services readily available online. Reach out to us to see what we can offer you.

Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of, Inc, or its affiliates.