How to Dispose Your Nail Polish Properly

While finishing last month article about 'say no to formaldehyde, toluene and dbp', a question came to my mind. In the past, I didn't care about what kind of nail polish I'd use, whether it was safe or not. Now, since I'd like to stick with safer nail polish, I want to get rid my old nail polishes I've been collecting. But, would it be alright to just toss them in the trash?


After a search on internet, I just found out that nail polish can't be thrown away in the trash just like that because it's flammable and categorized as household hazardous waste (at least that's what US Environmental Protection Agency said). It means nail polish is as hazardous as your household cleaners in your cabinet under your sink. And to throw them improperly would pollute the environment and post a threat to human health. Moreover, doing that is illegal. Oh my gosh, I don't know having nail polish could be this hard!

Then I stumbled to the city of San Diego website. From there I knew that there's a household hazardous waste transfer facility (or a landfill) nearby where I live, which accept not only nail polish, but nail polish remover, batteries, light bulbs, paints, etc. It's open to City of San Diego residents only. And an appointment is required. So, I called them and made an appointment. It was actually pretty easy. I didn't wait for a long time until somebody picked my call. And I got an appointment on the nearest saturday (they open only on Saturdays). Dropping the waste off was also very easy. Just drove in, had my ID checked, then drove to an area where some people were waiting for taking the trash from my car's trunk and I was ready to leave. Best of all, it's free!

I believe you can bring up to 15 gallons of waste at a time. You can also bring all sort of hazardous waste. I brought some used batteries along with my nail polishes in a plastic bag. Just make sure they're securely closed. It's recommended to collect the waste for a while, like a year, before you dump it. Or you may also volunteer to recycle nail polish from friends and relatives. If you're a resident in another city, you may contact your city's website or Earth 911 website. At Earth 911, you can search a recycling center near you based on a city or zipcode.

And if you feel creative, reusing your old, unwanted nail polishes is always an excellent idea. From preventing rust at a deep scratch on your car to color coding belongings in your house, nail polish could be handy. For more ideas, you may check this article: 'Use Nail Polish Everywhere'.

What idea do you have for unwanted, old nail polish? Let us know by contacting us.


Thresencia is a staff at Esther's Nail Center who occasionally writes articles for and Esther's Nail Corner. She has been around the nail industry for over 6 years. Esther's Nail Center is the online store for DIY manicure, pedicure supplies, nail art, and nail tips. Specializes in safer nail polish with no Formaldehyde, Toluene and DBP. We carry brands such as CND Shellac, Gelish, Adoree ,Piggy Paint, and Crackle Nail Polish