How To Dispose Of White Spirit The Right Way UK

Bottles of white spirit

Though petroleum-based spirits have many benefits, they are also considered hazardous waste and should be disposed of properly to avoid harm to human health and the environment.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss the importance of disposing of white spirits safely and provide you with various options for doing so.

Table of contents

What is white spirit (methylated spirit)?

White spirit, also known as mineral spirits or Stoddard solvent, is a petroleum-based solvent that is commonly used as a cleaning agent and degreaser.

It is often used to clean brushes and other painting tools, as well as to remove paint, varnish, and other coatings from surfaces.

It is also used as a solvent in the production of oil-based paints and varnishes.

Methylated spirit, also known as denatured alcohol, is a type of alcohol that has been treated with various additives to make it unsuitable for human consumption.

Petroleum spirit is often used as a solvent and fuel, as well as a disinfectant and antiseptic.

Methylated spirit is commonly used to clean and sterilise medical equipment, and it is also used in the production of personal care and cosmetic products.

It is important to note that these two solvents are not interchangeable, and should be used for their intended purposes only.

Additionally, both white spirit and methylated spirit can be harmful if ingested or inhaled and should be used with caution in well-ventilated areas.

Why Is Proper Disposal of White Spirits Important?

White spirits contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can be harmful to human health and the environment.

Exposure to these chemicals can cause a range of health problems, including headaches, dizziness, and respiratory irritation.

Additionally, VOCs can contribute to air pollution and can harm the ozone layer. By disposing of white spirits properly, you can help reduce the risk of exposure to these harmful chemicals and minimise their impact on the environment.

How to Dispose of White Spirits Safely

There are various options available for disposing of white spirits safely. Here are some of the most common options:

Check local regulations

Before disposing of white spirits, it’s important to check your local regulations.

Different regions may have specific rules on how to dispose of hazardous waste.

You can contact your local waste management authority or check their website for guidelines on how to dispose of white spirit in your area.

Use a hazardous waste disposal service

One of the safest ways to dispose of white spirits is to use a hazardous waste disposal service.

These services specialise in the disposal of hazardous waste, including white spirits.

They typically pick up the waste from your location and transport it to a licensed hazardous waste disposal facility.

Make sure to use a reputable service that is licensed to handle hazardous waste.

Dispose of small quantities with household hazardous waste programs

Many local governments offer household hazardous waste collection programs that allow residents to safely dispose of hazardous waste.

These programs often have designated collection days or locations where residents can drop off their waste.

If you only have a small amount of white spirits to dispose of, this may be a good option for you.

Do not pour white spirits down the drain

White spirits should never be poured down the drain, as they can contaminate the water supply and harm the environment.

Similarly, do not dump white spirits in the trash, as they can cause a fire or explosion.

Instead, store the white spirits in a tightly sealed container until you can dispose of them properly.

Contact an auto parts store or service station

Some auto parts stores or service stations may accept used white spirits for disposal.

These businesses may have contracts with hazardous waste disposal companies to properly dispose of used oil, antifreeze, and other hazardous waste.

Use paint recycling programs

Some paint recycling programs accept white spirits for disposal.

These programs may accept a variety of hazardous materials related to painting, such as solvents, thinners, and paint strippers.

Contact your local paint recycling program for information on accepted materials.

Transfer stations or landfills

If you are unable to find a hazardous waste disposal service, you may be able to dispose of small quantities of white spirits at a transfer station or landfill that accepts hazardous waste.

However, you should check with the facility first to confirm they accept white spirits and to learn about any restrictions or requirements.

White Spirit Disposal Statistics in the UK

In the UK, local councils provide free household hazardous waste collections to residents, which includes petroleum spirits.

According to a survey conducted by the European Chemicals Agency, the UK is one of the largest consumers of petroleum-based spirits in the EU, with an estimated consumption of 280,000 tonnes in 2016.

In 2019-2020, local councils in the UK collected over 520,000 tonnes of household hazardous waste, including white spirit, according to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

The UK government provides guidance on the proper disposal of white spirit, which involves taking it to a designated household hazardous waste collection facility.

In addition to household hazardous waste collections, some local councils in the UK also provide hazardous waste disposal services for businesses.

Are white spirits hazardous?

While they can be useful in certain applications, they can also pose several dangers if not handled properly.

Some of the dangers include:


The liquid is highly flammable and can easily catch fire or explode if exposed to heat or sparks. It is important to use them in a well-ventilated area and away from any sources of ignition.

Health hazards

Exposure to petroleum-based spirits can cause a range of health problems, including headaches, dizziness, nausea, and skin and eye irritation. Prolonged exposure or inhalation of the fumes can also lead to more serious health issues such as liver and kidney damage.

Environmental hazards

They can be harmful to the environment if not disposed of properly. They can contaminate soil and groundwater if poured down the drain or dumped in the trash.

Chemical interactions

White spirits can react with other chemicals to produce toxic fumes or explosive reactions. It is important to avoid mixing it with other solvents or chemicals.

To minimise the dangers of petroleum-based spirits, it is important to follow proper safety precautions when disposing of them. This includes wearing protective clothing and gloves, using them in a well-ventilated area, and disposing of them properly in accordance with local regulations

Can I put white spirit into a bin?

No, you should not put white spirit into a bin.

White spirit is a hazardous waste and should be disposed of properly to prevent harm to human health and the environment.

Improper disposal of hazardous waste can result in contamination of soil, water, and air, which can have harmful effects on plants, animals, and people.

Instead, you can take white spirit to a hazardous waste disposal site or contact your local waste management authority for guidance on how to dispose of it safely.

It is important to follow proper disposal procedures to ensure that hazardous waste is handled and disposed of correctly.

Can I pour white spirit down the drain?

No, we don’t recommend pouring white spirit down the drain.

White spirit can potentially damage pipes. It is a solvent that can dissolve certain types of plastics and rubber materials used in some types of pipes, particularly older or more brittle pipes.

If white spirit is poured down a drain or sink, it can potentially damage the pipes by corroding or degrading the pipe material over time.

This can result in leaks, clogs, or even burst pipes, which can be costly and time-consuming to repair.

We instead recommend allowing the liquid to evaporate naturally. Or contact us if you have large quantities to dispose of.


Proper disposal of white spirits is important to protect the environment and human health.

White spirits are considered hazardous waste and should not be disposed of in the regular trash or poured down the drain.

By following the guidelines of your local waste management authority and using appropriate disposal options, you can safely dispose of white spirits.

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