How to Dispose of Aerosol Cans

Having Aerosol cans lying around is not ideal because they do more harm than good in the environment after exhausting their contents. They are not reusable, hence the need for proper disposal.

So, how should you dispose of these aerosol cans? Toss them in the garbage bin, and they end up in landfills? Well, that is an unacceptable method of disposal considering the effects of aerosol cans (whether they are empty or not) on the environment.

Instead, there are better ways to dispose of aerosol cans safely, and you will learn about them in this post. But first, let’s see why it is essential to dispose of Aerosol cans safely. 

Why Should You Dispose of Aerosol Cans Safely?

How to Dispose of Aerosol Cans

You cannot dispose of Aerosol cans like your regular garbage because they are not totally out of the harmful chemicals and compressed gas they once contained. Therefore, it is best to recycle them, but it is essential to treat and depressurize them before recycling.

In Summary, Aerosol cans are hazardous waste substances, and they are dangerous and can be harmful during recycling if you do not dispose of them properly.

How Should You Dispose Of Aerosol?

Disposing of Aerosol cans depends on its contents- whether it is empty or not. Empty Aerosol cans should be treated differently from complete or partially full Aerosol cans, and the method of disposing of both is never the same. Therefore it is essential to verify if Aerosol cans are empty or not before disposal. It will ensure they do not threaten you, the people around you, or your environment. 

Let’s explore the method of disposing of empty Aerosol cans before discussing the methods of disposing of ones with some contents.

Disposing Of Empty Aerosol Cans

Disposing of empty Aerosol cans is easier than disposing of cans with contents. But there are some safety precautions to take to ensure proper disposal.

Safety Precautions To Take Before Disposal

Here are the safety precautions you should take before disposing of empty Aerosol cans.

Aerosol Can Should Be Empty

The first step in disposing of Aerosol cans is to ensure it is indeed empty, and you can confirm this by turning the can upside-down and watching out for any drop of its contents. 

You can conclude that the can is empty if its contents do not drop and the nozzle does not seem clogged up. But, if you are still not sure the aerosol can is empty, try shaking it and paying attention to the sound of liquid moving in it. If you do not feel any liquid, the can is empty, and you can dispose of it.

However, if the can is not empty, you should move to the section that discusses how to dispose of full and partially-full  Aerosol cans.

Keep The Aerosol Can Intact – No Modification

Before disposing of your Aerosol cans, the next thing to ensure is to keep the can intact. Avoid making any change to it. Irrespective of how you plan to dispose of the Aerosol can, keeping it intact as it was when you picked it up is essential.

The reason for this is that the slightest modification to an Aerosol can is dangerous; they are pressurized and may explode if you tamper with them, and of course, you would not want a mini bomb exploding in your arms.

Therefore, there should be no piercing, crushing, or flattening of Aerosol cans before disposal. Also, do not puncture them, expose them to heat, or remove the nozzle.

Remove any detachable or loose parts to the Aerosol can—for instance, plastic nozzles. You can dispose of the detachable parts separately.

Inspect The Can’s Contents

You have confirmed that the can is empty, but it is not safe to dispose of it yet, and it is essential to investigate and understand its contents first. Not all Aerosol cans are recyclable, so you should investigate the content of an Aerosol can to know the most suitable disposal method.

Sometimes, it is safe to dispose of empty Aerosol cans in the garbage bins; other times, it is dangerous and not advisable. Therefore, bridging that gap requires understanding what the Aerosol can use to contain. 

Check the can to determine if its contents contain any hazardous substance. If it does, specific instructions for disposal should come with it. Follow these instructions strictly to avoid casualties, as it will direct you to take the Aerosol can to a hazardous waste disposal center – if necessary – or otherwise.

However, if you do not find enough information about the disposal and are unsure of the step to take – recycling or not – you should call the recycling center nearest you for inquiries. Tell them about the contents of the can, and they’ll tell you if it is recyclable or not.

If you cannot locate a close recycling center, Earth911 will help you find one.

Know Your Community’s Recycling Policies

The next precaution to take is to find out the recycling policies in your community. Different communities have different policies on recycling, which implies that some communities may not support Aerosol recycling cans.

You can find out your community’s recycling policies online or call a recycling center to find out.

Ways to Dispose Of Empty Aerosol Cans

You can dispose of Aerosol cans with no content as follows:

Throw In The Garbage Bin

You can dispose of empty Aerosol cans by throwing them in the garbage bin. Again, it would be best if you were sure the can is empty and does not contain any hazardous substance.

Take Them To Scrap Yards

According to the Consumer Specialty Product Association (CSPA), Aerosol cans are made from about 75% of steel or about 25% of aluminum. Steel or aluminum cans are in high demand because they are recyclable without breaking down or compromising quality.

Therefore, you can take Aerosol cans to scrap yards and get paid. Although not all scrap yards will take Aerosol cans because of the danger it poses. So, you should call ahead before setting out.


It is best to recycle your Aerosol cans to keep them away from landfills and, sometimes, make money off them. But, do not forget to call your local recycling first for confirmation.

Dispose of With Recyclable Metals

You can dispose of Aerosol cans with other recyclable metals if there is no recycling center in your area. Since most Aerosol cans are made from steel and aluminum, it may be an excellent option to dispose of with companies that recycle metal.

Disposing Of Full Or Partially Full Aerosol Cans

You can dispose of filled or partially full Aerosol cans in the following ways:

Use Up The Content

Since it is harmful to dispose of whole or partially full aerosol cans, the best way to get rid of them is to use the contents first, then dispose of the can as empty. Keep a filled Aerosol can at home and use it till you exhaust all the content.

Give Them Out

If you need to dispose of your Aerosol can but cannot use the content, you should consider gifting it to others who may need it. You can give Aerosol cans containing spray paint to artists, and you can also give them to businesses like mechanic workshops and others like it.

Dispose Of With An Hazardous Waste Collection Site

Another way to dispose of Aerosol cans is to take them to a hazardous waste collection site. It is a better alternative If you cannot use the can till it is empty or give it out to other people.

You can find a hazardous waste collection center close to you on RCRAInfo Web – an official United States government website. Some of these hazardous waste collection centers may charge you some fee, but you can also participate in government-organized events to collect hazardous waste for free.

Things To Avoid When Disposing Of Aerosol Cans

There are some wrong ways to dispose of Aerosol cans or their contents, and you should avoid them. Failure to refrain from some of these practices may endanger human lives and properties. Therefore, you should keep them in mind to avoid being a victim.

Do Not Throw Away Aerosol Cans

Empty or not, do not throw away Aerosol cans in your environment, which threaten you, your children, and your pets at home.

Avoid Disposing Of Full Aerosol Cans in Garbage Bins

Please do not dispose of full Aerosol cans nor empty their contents in garbage bins. It is dangerous and can explode if impacted or exposed to heat.

Do Not Empty Aerosol Cans By Puncturing

Except you are a trained professional, do not attempt to empty the contents of Aerosol cans – either filled or not – by puncturing them. It is dangerous because it may explode if you do not handle it properly, leading to injury to your body. Using it till you exhaust it remains the best way to empty it.


An Aerosol can is undoubtedly a hazardous waste, and it is essential to not dispose of it like a regular household waste. The contents consist of harmful chemicals and should be handled with great caution.

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