How To Dispose of Acetone

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So, you just finished your nails. They look beautiful. Now that they have finished drying, it’s time to clean up. You properly sanitize your tools, and throw away any paper products you have used to paint your nails to perfection. But what about your used nail polish remover? Should you just throw it in the trash?

The answer is NO!

Most nail polisher remover brands use acetone in their formulas, which puts nail polish remover in the hazardous chemicals category. In fact, acetone is commonly used by mechanics as a degreaser to help remove adhesive from vinyl or resin. Because acetone is a harsh chemical and is extremely flammable, there is a right and wrong way to dispose of it. Much like oil, glass, and other hazardous substances that must follow special waste instructions, acetone is also on the list!

So, what should you do? Read on for some tips and steps on how t dispose of acetone—the RIGHT way!

What You Will Need to Dispose of Acetone

A large garbage bag

Steps on How to Dispose of Acetone

Disposing of acetone is relatively easy when you have the items above on hand and when following these step-by-step instructions.

Cleaning spilled acetone

1. Work with Acetone on a Hard Surface. Always use acetone over a hard or flat surface. Accidents happen, so if you accidentally spill acetone, cleaning and soaking it up with a paper towel or cloth towel or rag is easier on a hard, flat surface. 

Most salon professionals work on a manicurist’s table or over a pedicure chair tub when using acetone. However, if you are lounging on the couch and doing your needs in front of the TV, and you spill acetone on your couch, chair or rug, not only will this likely ruin your furniture, but it will be difficult to clean it up sufficiently. If you spill large amounts of acetone, then you may need to get rid of your furniture or rugs altogether, which is no fun.

Inhaling acetone for long periods of time can cause damage to your health. So, be sure to also use acetone in a place that is well ventilated. Salons are typically well ventilated, but if you are at home and doing your nails, refrain from doing them in a closed room. Open a door or window when using acetone.

2. Wear Gloves (and a Mask). Be sure to always wear rubber or Latex gloves when using and disposing of acetone. Short-term exposure to small doses of acetone is relatively safe; however, disposing or handling large amounts of acetone should require gloves.

Although it might be second nature for a manicurist to remove gloves after finishing a client’s nails, it’s important to remember to keep on your gloves and mask when cleaning up after a client and disposing of acetone.

For individuals or salon professionals who are allergic to latex gloves, you can also use rubber gloves, such as used for cleaning (as shown in the image above) to safely dispose of acetone. These rubber gloves are thick enough to protect the hands when handling and disposing of acetone.

Metal container for proper acetone storage

3. Use a Sealed Metal Container (with a Secure Lid). Proper storage of acetone is of the utmost importance, especially for salon professionals. DIY-manicurists, although storing acetone in the plastic bottles that you purchase in the store might seem safe, they can be prone to accidents and spills, which can cause damage to you as well as children and pets. 

Consider pouring acetone in a metal container with a sealed lid to properly and safely store acetone.

Acetone must be disposed of in a sealed container as well. Once a manicurist finishes with a client, the professional must pour the used acetone in a sealed metal container to be disposed of at the end of the day.

As mentioned above, because salons dispose of large amounts of acetone at a time, they may be required to use a sealed fireproof container provided by their local fire department or from a hazardous waste recycling center. Some hazardous waste recycling centers may even send a qualified and licensed professional to collect used and waste acetone at the end of each day. Again, these laws may vary with state and region.

Salons should have the necessary permits and licensure required to properly handle, store, and dispose of acetone. Salon professionals are encouraged to visit the Environmental Protection Agency for more information.

Dispose acetone on a garbage bag

4. Throw Used Paper Products in Garbage Bag. For DIY-at-home individuals, it is relatively safe to dispose of your used paper products with acetone in the trash. This is because only a small amount of acetone is typically used, and the risks of fire or injury are lower.

However, this is only acceptable for small amounts only. For 

example, if you used a tissue, a few cotton balls or a paper towel to remove nail polish or clean up excess acetone, be sure to allow sufficient time for the products to dry prior to throwing them in a garbage bag.

It’s important to throw away used acetone paper products in a separate garbage bag. Do not throw away used paper products soaked with acetone in with the rest of your trash. Again, acetone is incredibly flammable, and it can ignite even from a distance. So, it is possible for other products in your trash can to catch fire if they come in contact with acetone.

Do yourself a favor and throw your used paper products in a separate garbage bag and throw it away separately. If you are really worried, you can also take your garbage bag to a local recycling center.

You can also create your own sealed container with a trash bag as in the image shown above. This will ensure that your paper products are protected and away from other potentially flammable items in your trash.

You can also opt to use non-acetone nail polish remover products instead to avoid having to deal with the hassle of disposing of acetone properly.

5. What to Do in an Emergency. If you or a client accidentally spills, ingests or inhales a large amount of acetone, then seek immediate medical attention. Call 9-1-1 or also call the Poison Control hotline for more information on what to do if a dangerous amount of acetone is exposed to skin, the eyes or ingested or inhaled. If a child or pet is exposed to acetone, and you aren’t sure as to the amount, take caution and seek immediate medical or veterinary attention.

Of course accidents can happen. However, storing acetone away in a concealed container or high on a shelf will prevent spills and curious pets and children from investigating and playing with it.

Conclusion: The Safe Way to Dispose of Acetone

Acetone is surely an effective way to remove nail polish, especially gel polish. However, it is important for individuals and salon professionals to take great care when handling and disposing of acetone. After all, when it comes to properly and safely disposing of acetone, you can never be too careful. 

Taking the proper measures to carefully use, handle, and store acetone, such as in sealed containers and only using acetone on a hard surface will protect you, your customers, and your furniture. Furthermore, properly disposing acetone will also avoid a fire, possible injuries, and will also help keep you, your salon, your clients and your home safe.

We hope that you found this article helpful and informative on how to dispose of acetone safely to avoid accidents, fires, and even to keep your salon’s licensure in good standing.

Do you use acetone or non-acetone products? Do you have a good idea on how to safely store acetone or dispose of acetone that you’d like to share? If so, we would love to hear all about it! Share your thoughts, opinions, and ideas in the comment box below.

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