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How to Dispose of a Gas Can

Robin Reichert

Laws regarding collection of empty household hazardous waste containers such as old, empty gas cans vary from state to state. Household hazardous waste is a huge source of environmental pollution in the United States.

Help protect the environment by disposing of your gas cans properly and safely.

Common household waste and empty containers cause injury to sanitation workers and pollute water systems if they are not disposed of properly. Federal law allows for disposal of household hazardous waste in the regular trash, but some communities have stricter collection rules.

  1. Empty the gasoline in the can into another safety-approved gas can or use the gasoline in your car, lawnmower or motorcycle. Give the gasoline to a friend or neighbor for their use if you cannot use it. Refresh old gas with a gasoline additive to remove moisture.

  2. Place the old gas can in a well-ventilated area away from open flame and electrical appliances. Remove the lid from the can and place the lid on the ground next to the can. Leave the empty can exposed to the air until all of the gasoline has evaporated.

  3. Use a permanent black marker to write "gasoline" on the can to identify the type of fuel that was stored in the can. Place the lid on the gas can but do not seal it. Leave the lid loose to allow any remaining gasoline vapors to escape.

  4. Contact your local solid waste or household hazardous waste management agency for instructions about disposal. Ask whether your local trash collection service collects empty household hazardous waste containers on specific days. Follow the instructions of your local waste management agency.

  5. Tip

    Avoid storing gasoline in cans over the winter. Use it or give it away.


    Never smoke around gasoline or gas cans. Even a small amount of gasoline produces highly flammable vapors.

    Never pour gasoline down a drain or into the soil. Gasoline is hazardous waste and will pollute the soil and water. Pouring household hazardous waste down a drain or into the soil may be a violation of local and state law.

    Never rinse an old gas can with water and then pour the water down the drain. Even a small amount of gasoline can contaminate the soil and water.

    Do not throw an empty gas can in the regular trash.

    Store gasoline only in approved containers. Do not use plastic milk jugs or juice containers. These containers are not designed for gasoline storage.