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Because You Asked

How Should I Dispose of Nail Polish?

By Recyclebank |

Don’t toss that old bottle of nail polish in the trash until you know the facts.

Dear Recyclebank,

How should I get rid of old nail polish?

-Tracy P.

Any nail polish aficionado knows that polish that’s been around too long can separate or get too thick to apply. Before you ditch your favorite shade, check if it can be salvaged. A bit of nail polish thinner and a good shake may make it ready to use again.

If your polish is past its prime, pause before throwing it in the trash. Nail polish is a potential household hazardous waste because it’s flammable and can contain toxins such as toluene and dibutyl phthalate. Because of this, some areas prohibit disposing of it with your regular trash. The good news is that many towns and cities have a collection program for household hazardous waste. Check with your city’s public works department for details, or search for local facilities that accept nail polish in Earth 911’s directory. Similar to disposing of paint, make sure to let the polish dry in the bottle, but do it outside to avoid indoor air pollution from the fumes.

Recycling options for nail polish are scarce, but Chemwise does offer a mail-in nail polish recycling program. A recycling kit costs $78.73, though, so you may want to consider getting a group collection together. Note that the polish will need to still be liquid for Chemwise to process it.

The Daily Varnish

How do you deal with nail polish that’s past its prime? Share your experiences in the comments.

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  • Alison D. 3 years ago
    Oh my there are so many beautiful colors available the ideas are endless, plus they are acrylic making them stand up to outdoors rather well. Consider using them as a paint for small recycled garden items like maybe a metal butterfly cut from some old used metal ;)
  • Susan C. 3 years ago
    Great ideas
  • Laura L. 3 years ago
    If they're still liquid enough to be used, you can paint labels on things for organization and it should stay much better than other labels.
  • tommy b. 3 years ago
  • NAncy Lee B. 3 years ago
    When they do safe disposal collections in NYC that is something on the accepted on the drop off list. Other things include house paint, electronics, batteries etc
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