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How to Dispose of Mineral Spirits

Two Methods:

Mineral spirits, or white spirits, are a petroleum-based cleaning solvent.They are commonly used with decorating and art paint products. Once you have used mineral spirits to thin paint or clean paint brushes, you can store them for later use or find a hazardous waste facility that can dispose of them responsibly without contaminating your ground water.


Reusing Mineral Spirits

  1. Keep mineral spirits in the original container after you are done using them.Seal the lid as tightly as possible. Place them away from any areas with open flames.
    • Mineral spirits ignite at 105 to 145 °F (41 to 63 °C).
  2. Leave the mineral spirits alone in their sealed container for months at a time.Mineral spirits do not “go bad,” so it is not necessary to dispose of them after you use them as paint solvent. Allow the mineral spirits to settle, letting the paint sink to the bottom.
    • The best thing to do with mineral spirits is to buy low quantities and reuse them for decades. They evaporate very slowly.
  3. Remove the lid, pour off the clear mineral spirits into a thick, new waste-safe container.Label them immediately for reuse. Pour the remaining paint at the bottom into cat litter.
    • Follow the next method to dispose of the paint and kitty litter properly.
    • You can buy containers that can safely store solvents at art supply stores, hardware stores and on the Internet. Not all plastic containers are acceptable for use, because the solvent may wear down and break the plastic over time.
  4. Use mineral spirits to thin oil paints.This solvent can be retained for use with oil-based house paint or art paints. Add small quantities until the paint reaches the consistency of your choice.
    • Add more medium to your paint, if you feel you may have added too much solvent. Overly diluted paint may not bind to the canvas. However, using more paint medium will reverse the effect.
  5. Call a local construction co-op, art school or lifelong learning center to inquire about donating extra mineral spirits.You can extend the life of the spirits if you must get rid of them.

Disposing of Mineral Spirits

  1. Call your local city commissioner’s or council office to inquire about a hazardous materials waste disposal event.Many cities host disposal days to limit the amount of pollution in the environment. They are occasionally free of charge or sponsored by a local business.
  2. Take the kitty litter/paint residue combination in your household trash.
  3. Call your local landfill to see if they handle hazardous waste.If you must get rid of it, you can leave it in its original container and pay a small fee to have a local agency dispose of it properly.
  4. Pour extra solvent into a container of kitty litter and take it to your local landfill.Disclose the contents and pay a fee as requested to avoid groundwater contamination.
  5. Don’t dispose of oily rags or paintbrushes in the trashcan.They can ignite. Buy a special oily waste disposal can and clean them thoroughly with solvent, then soap and water.
    • You can also try to turn in your oily waste disposal container to a hazardous waste disposal event.
  6. Leave empty containers open to dry.You can dispose of the container at a recycling center. Remaining residue will not affect the recycling process.

Community Q&A

  • Question
    Can I put used paper towels soaked with mineral spirits in the trash?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Yes, you can, but I personally soak the towels with water before dumping them, it makes it safer and there's less chance of combustion.
Unanswered Questions
  • How would I dispose of a plastic container with residual white spirit in it?
  • I spilled mineral spirit in the kitchen sink. Is it harmful?
  • What can I use to clean my drain from mineral spirits?
  • Can I mix paint thinner and mineral spirits to reuse or dispose?
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  • Buy a special flammables storage cabinet. You can keep flammable paints, rags, brushes and solvents safe.


  • Never pour mineral spirits down the drains or into the sewers. It can contaminate the groundwater.
  • Beware that mineral spirits can’t be poured onto the ground or into the garbage can. They can only be disposed of properly at a waste management event or facility.

Things You'll Need

  • Inflammable paint storage container
  • Cat litter
  • Oil waste disposal bucket
  • Solvent-safe plastic storage bucket
  • Labels

Related wikiHows

Sources and Citations

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