How to Properly Dispose of Aerosol Cans

Posted on May 06, 2010

We get a lot of traffic to our Aerosol Cans page, so we thought we'd dedicate a quick blog post to the topic.

The key with aerosol cans: If they are empty, they are safe to throw in the trash.  If they are not empty, they are potentially dangerous.

Aerosol cans contain liquid or gas propellant, packed under pressure. Full or partially filled cans may explode if exposed to heat or punctured, by compacting in a garbage truck, for example.

If there are leftovers in an aerosol can, consider either using the product up, giving it to someone else who could use it, or bringing it to your Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Collection Site.  Some counties have Reuse Rooms where residents can bring unused household items like paint or cleaners for others to use (contact your county to learn more).  All HHW Collection Sites will accept your full or partially full aerosol cans for disposal.

Remember: Empty aerosol cans are safe for the trash; Leftovers should be brought to your Household Hazardous Waste Collection Site.

You can read more and find your county contact information on our Aerosol Cans page.


I prefer to use pump spray bottles to avoid having aerosol cans in the first place. It makes reuse or disposal much easier!

I have two with broken caps and the cans are still half full. Will they still take them at the Home Hazard Place?

Yes - the county household hazardous waste drop-off sites will accept an aerosol can that is full or partially full, even if the cap is or broken or missing.   To find your county's drop-off site, visit

Can I through an aerosal can in to burning?

Please do not put aerosal cans in fires. See disposal suggestions above. Thanks.

In my city ( grand jct, co) we a place that will recycle steel aerosol cans. But I got told that I had to puncture them first, they could not accept them even if they empty I thought that was dangerous. Any suggestions

The best suggestion we have is check with your local recycling coordinator. Try city hall. Glad to hear you're recycling!

What if the aerosol can bursted accidentally, it was stored inside a plastic bag sitting inside a plastic container with other automotive products, and it toppled over while driving. De icer liquid spilled inside the bag, with aerosol can in it. Can I dispose it at the hazardous waste facility?

Yes, please dispose of it at your county household hazardous waste facility

Is it safe to put empty aerosol cans in a garbage compactor?

Empty aerosol cans with no liquid or pressure remaining can be placed in your household trash. Please check with your trash hauler or county household hazardous waste coordinator about disposing of aerosol cans in a garbage compactor. 

Can full aerosol cans be stored in detached garage which freezes during winter?

Please check the directions from the manufacturer. 

How does one determine if the cans are completely empty? When I'm trying to get out the last bit, if I shake it a certain way, some comes out. Is it safe to assume that's good enough?

Please make sure that there is no liquid remaining in the can before disposing of it in the trash.

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