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How to dispose of white spirit UK Guide

White spirit is an extremely handy substance. It can be used for loads of cleaning tasks while painting. It can also be used to thin wood varnishes and a great deal more. If you are painting your home, you will likely pick up a bottle of white spirit or methylated spirit to clean all of your tools afterwards. However, what should you do with the white spirit afterwards?

Well, here is how to dispose of white spirit in the UK.

How to dispose of white spirit UK Guide

How to dispose of white spirit

White spirit is a petroleum-based solvent

White spirit is a petroleum-based solvent and, as such, needs to be treated as one during disposal. This means that white spirit should never be poured down the sink. White spirit is insoluble in water. So, if it enters a water supply, it can damage the environment and affect drinking water. Household pipes can also be damaged by white spirit, which could end up being very costly.

So, how should you dispose of white spirit safely?


Well, you don’t actually need to dispose of white spirit, even the stuff you have used to clean tools after painting. You can keep it and use it to clean other tools. If you do want to dispose of your white spirit, though, you can check your local council’s website.

They likely have a collection point at your local recycling centre for petroleum-based solvents. Or you may be able to find a local company that can collect your white spirit that recycles it.


Some of the Local recycling centres in East Anglia region:

Cambridgeshire recycling centres

https://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/residents/waste-and-recycling/household-recycling-centres

Milton Recycling Centre, Butt Lane, Milton
Postcode: CB24 6DQ
Tel: 01223 860674

Witchford Recycling Centre, Stirling Way, Witchford
Postcode: CB6 3FA
Tel: 01353 668728

Thriplow Recycling Centre, Gravel Pit Hill, Thriplow
Postcode: SG8 7HZ
Tel: 01223 839001

St Neots Recycling Centre, Unit 3, Marston Road, St Neots
Postcode: PE19 2HB
Tel: 01480 354355

Whittlesey Recycling Centre, New Road, Whittlesey
Postcode: PE7 1SZ
Tel: 01733 351144

Alconbury Recycling Centre, Wood Walton Road, Alconbury Weston
Postcode: PE28 4LH
Tel: 01480 414796

Bedfordshire recycling centres

https://www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/info/2/waste_and_recycling/612/household_waste_recycling_centres_tidy_tips/2

Ampthill Household Waste Recycling Centre
Abbey Lane
Off Oliver Street
Ampthill
Bedfordshire
MK45 2SA

Biggleswade Household Waste Recycling Centre
Bells Brook
Biggleswade
Bedfordshire
SG18 0NA

Thorn Turn Household Waste Recycling Centre
Grendall Lane (off Thorn Road)
Houghton Regis
Bedfordshire
LU5 6GJ

Leighton Buzzard Household Waste Recycling Centre
Shenley Hill Road
Leighton Buzzard
Bedfordshire
LU7 3BT

Hertfordshire recycling centres

https://www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/services/recycling-waste-and-environment/recycling-and-waste/where-can-i-recycle/household-waste-recycling-centres/

Woodside Industrial Estate
off Dunmow Road (A1250)
Bishop’s Stortford
CM23 5RG

14 Ronsons Way
Sandridge (off St Albans Road)
St Albans
AL4 9XR

Caxton Way
Stevenage
SG1 2DF

Eastman Way
Hemel Hempstead
HP2 7DU

Blackhorse Road
Letchworth Garden City
SG6 1HB

Beverley Close (off York Way)
Royston
SG8 5HF

Radnor Hall
Allum Lane
Elstree
WD6 3NN

Suffolk recycling centres

https://suffolkrecycling.org.uk/where-to-recycle/recycling-centres

Bury St Edmunds
Fornham Road, Bury St Edmunds, IP31 1SJ (East off A134, junction with Barton Hill & Fornham Road)

Ipswich
Portman’s Walk, Ipswich, IP1 2DW (Off Sir Alf Ramsey Way) 

Haverhill
Off Chalkstone Way, Haverhill, CB9 7UR (Off the A143 - Sturmer Road) 

Sudbury
Sandy Lane, Sudbury, CO10 7HG (Off Bulmer Road, Ballingdon Hill – A131) 

Essex recycling centres

https://www.essex.gov.uk/waste-recycling

Basildon
Barleylands Depot
Barleylands Road
Billericay
Essex
CM11 2UF

Braintree
Causeway House,
Bocking End,
Braintree,
Essex,
CM7 9HB

Brentwood
Brentwood recycling centre,
Coxtie Green Road,
Brentwood,
Essex,
CM14 5PN

Chelmsford
Chelmsford recycling centre,
Drovers Way,
North Springfield,
Chelmsford,
Essex,
CM2 5PH

Colchester
Colchester Recycling Centre for household waste
Maldon Rd, Colchester CO3 4RN

Buckinghamshire recycling centres

https://www.buckscc.gov.uk/services/waste-and-recycling/household-recycling-centres/

Aylesbury 
Rabans Close,
Rabans Lane,
HP19 8RS

Chesham 
Latimer Road,
HP5 1TL

High Wycombe 
High Heavens,
Clay Lane,
Booker,
SL7 3DJ

Amersham 
London Road East,
HP7 9DT

Buckingham 
Yonder Slade,
Buckingham Industrial Park,
MK18 1RZ

How to neutralise white spirit

How to neutralise white spirit

Using bicarbonate of soda can neutralise the smell of white spirit.

However, the best thing to do is simply let the white spirit evaporate, which it will do pretty quickly.

If you have spilt a lot of white spirit, clean up as much as you can, wearing gloves and a respirator, and then leave the rest to evaporate.

What to do if you get white spirit on skin

If you get white spirit on your skin or your clothes, remove the clothes and wash the area in lukewarm water for 10-15 minutes.


Short-term exposure to white spirit on the skin can cause some irritation, cracking and drying. Prolonged exposure can cause burns, blistering and redness. So, ensure the affected area is thoroughly clean and seek medical advice if you notice any of the symptoms above.

What to do if you get white spirit on the carpet

If you spill a small amount of white spirit on your carpet, you do need to dry the carpet out fully and keep an eye on the area. If you have a foam-backed carpet, the white spirit can rot the foam backing. It is also highly flammable, and so care needs to be taken until the white spirit has evaporated.

To speed up the evaporation process, open windows and create a through the draft.

If you have spilt a lot of white spirits, you may need to buy a new carpet and even replace the flooring underneath. The white spirit may have stained the carpet, but it may have weakened the wood and rotted the backing of the carpet. It’s a good idea to get a professional in for their opinion.

As we said, white spirit is a fantastic tool for decorating tasks and a great deal more. With any solvent, though, you do need to be careful.

General advice

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