How do I safely dispose of acetone-soaked rags?
November 28, 2018 1:46 PM   Subscribe

One site says soak/wash them, one site says lay them out to dry them, one site says, place them in a fireproof container and throw away with the rest of your garbage.

(I have a steel coffee can--but I think the top is plastic).

I spilled about 2/3rds of a regular sized nail polish remover bottle on the wood floors and luckily I had something close by to blot it up, but then remembered it's flammable and I most likely shouldn't just throw it in the trash.

What's the safest way to dispose of them? I have them hanging on the porch now, but I need to hop to my book opening party in less than a hour. It's undoubtedly unsightly but I have both a gas furnace and dryer, so no going to the basement.
posted by intrepid_simpleton to Grab Bag (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
let them continue to hang until they dry themselves out and then throw them away.
posted by Dr. Twist at 2:02 PM on November 28, 2018 [8 favorites]

You could also safely burn them in the coffee can on the porch. The products of burning will be CO2 and water.

Shouldn’t take more than a few minutes, and sounds like a good time to me. Do it in small batches, not all at once.
posted by SaltySalticid at 2:31 PM on November 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

Acetone is very volatile and so it will evaporate quickly - chances are when you get home from your event it will be almost entirely gone. I think putting the rags outside to dry was exactly the right call.

Acetone is not particularly dangerous aside from its flammability, so after it's mostly evaporated the rags aren't hazardous. In addition, acetone is miscible in water so there should be no problem at all in washing the rags and reusing them. If you're concerned about the gas dryer, rinse them in cold water first to dilute it, but overall that shouldn't be an issue.

There's no reason to burn the rags, unless you like to play with fire.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 2:46 PM on November 28, 2018 [15 favorites]

Yeah, they'll be dry by the time you're back. Then you can launder as usual.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 5:36 PM on November 28, 2018

Acetone evaporates rapidly and completely, leaving no residue. Letting them dry will be fine. Soaking them in water to dilute the acetone would also be fine; it is fully miscible and it would be easy to dilute it down to a non-flammable level. Burning them in a safe location would also be fine, if you just want to burn something.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:02 PM on November 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

FWIW, in the lab acetone is what we use to wash glassware. Sometimes if something's wet we'll hose it down with acetone just to dry it off. (The acetone/water mixture evaporates faster.)

I mean, don't sit in your house rubbing this stuff onto your skin, but otherwise I think you're pretty safe.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 10:26 PM on November 28, 2018 [3 favorites]

Huh. My wife just pointed out that acetone is a common solvent for removing nail polish. So, uh, feel free to sit in your house rubbing this stuff onto your skin, I guess.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 10:27 PM on November 28, 2018 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: And it's actually been raining for a day, so, no drying out on the rail.
posted by intrepid_simpleton at 8:25 AM on November 30, 2018

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