5 Things To Do With Old Nail Polish Bottles (Easy Guide)

Nail polish bottles may be small but they’re perfect to repurpose for everyday use. If you want to minimize your environmental footprint, try one of our suggested 5 things to do with old nail polish bottles.

Photo Credit: Khakimullin Aleksandr/Shutterstock.

Can I Throw Nail Polish In The Garbage?

You can throw nail polish in your garbage if you choose to. Pretty much any item can be disposed of in your garbage unless it contains dangerous chemicals or potentially explosive ones.

However, most people do not want to get rid of their nail polish by tossing it into the garbage.

The waste thrown into garbage cans is transported to landfill sites, and it then sits there, pretty much indefinitely.

Increasing numbers of people are becoming aware that this is unsustainable and bad for the planet.

Nail polish comes in glass bottles, and glass is generally recyclable – but you might find that it isn’t that simple when it comes to your nail polish bottles.

For starters, they are small, which makes them less valuable for recycling.

Additionally, they tend to have nail polish residue in them, often dried up, and this means that recycling is even harder. 

There is a risk of nail polish contaminating entire batches of recycling.

That means that if you are in doubt, it may be best to put nail polish in your garbage can.

The lid and brush should also be discarded in this manner to prevent any risk of them contaminating other recyclables.

A lot of people don’t want to throw their nail polish away, however, so let’s look at what else you can do when you finish a bottle of polish.

5 Things To Do With Old Nail Polish Bottles

If you don’t want to or can’t recycle your old nail polish bottles, you might want to try repurposing them instead – and this is fortunately easy to do. 

Let’s look at the options.

1. Store Nail Polish Remover

Most nail polish remover comes in large, bulky bottles that are hard to transport. If you are constantly on the go, you might want something you can keep a small amount of the remover in.

A nail polish bottle is a great idea.

Simply clean the bottle as described above, and then pour a small amount of your polish remover into it. Make sure you put the lid on tightly so that the remover doesn’t spill.

2. Make A Mini Vase

Some bottles of nail polish are ultra cute, and the great news is, that you can reuse the bottle as a tiny vase.

You will need to clean the bottle thoroughly before you do this. You can throw the lid and brush away, as they won’t be needed.

Next, remove the label, and use other nail polishes or sharpies to decorate the front of it.

Allow your designs to fully dry, and then add any other decorations you like. When you are done, you can store some tiny dried flowers or other miniature decorations in it.

You could also use it to hold small incense sticks or a few pretty feathers. Whatever you add will need to be tall and skinny, but this is a great reuse option.

3. Store Craft Items

If you’re a crafty person, you probably have some craft items that are very tiny. A nail polish bottle can be a great place to store them because it is stable and clear, so you can see what you’ve put in it.

Clean the bottle as described above and strip off the label.

Next, cut the brush off the lid using a sharp blade. The brush can be thrown away, and you can then use the lid to stop the craft items from falling out.

Add your craft items to the bottle. Things like glitter, tiny beads, sequins, and more will work very well in a nail polish bottle. 

If you’ve got a lot of tiny craft items, this is a great, free storage solution, and it will look lovely standing on a shelf.

4. Turn It Into A Glue Dispenser

A lot of glue comes in large bottles that are hard to tip and clumsy to use.

Few bottles have a brush or spreader, meaning you’ll end up with sticky, makeshift spreaders that get gummed up after a few uses.

Your nail polish bottles are the perfect solution. They are small, so you can work with minimal amounts of glue at once, and they have a handy brush constantly ready for use.

Once you’ve cleaned the bottle, you just need to add some glue to it, and screw the cap back on tightly. 

You can then simply unscrew the cap and use the brush to apply glue whenever you want it. This is certainly a neat solution that any craft enthusiast will love.

5. Refill Them With Your Own Nail Polish

If you want to try your hand at making your own nail polish hues, you should definitely have some empty bottles on hand.

You can do this by using clear polish, or a color that you think would mix well.

  1. Select a nail polish color and an eyeshadow color that you think will go well together. If you want to keep the color of the eyeshadow, use clear polish.
  1. Add the polish and a small amount of crushed eyeshadow to the clean bottle. Put the cap on and shake hard.
  1. Keep adding until you have achieved a color that you like, and then put the cap on the bottle so it doesn’t dry out.

How Do You Responsibly Dispose Of Nail Polish?

An increasing number of brands are looking for ways to make their nail polish bottle recyclable, and in theory, the bottles can be recycled because they are just glass. 

If you are able to recycle them, this is likely to be the most responsible way to dispose of them.

To recycle nail polish, you should first make sure that you have used up as much of the bottle as possible. 

The less polish is in when you finish with it, the more likely it is to be recyclable. Next, follow these steps:

  1. Pour some nail polish remover into the bottle of nail polish.
  2. Put the cap back onto the bottle and then shake the bottle hard. You may find that it helps to leave it for a few minutes, and then shake it again.
  3. Get some waste paper or scrap paper towel, and pour the liquid into it.
  4. Refill the bottle with more nail polish remover and repeat the above steps until the liquid is coming out completely clear, and there is no polish left in the bottle.
  5. Let the bottle fully dry.
  6. Rinse the bottle out with soapy water and allow it to dry again.
  7. Recycle the bottle (but not the lid or the brush; these must go into your garbage).

It is important to use some paper towels for this process, and not to put the liquid down your toilet or sink.

It will contain nail polish, and this will stick to your pipes and add chemicals to the water supply. 

Tip the liquid onto a paper towel and then dispose of the paper towel in your garbage.

Note that you should only do this if your nail varnish bottle says that it can be recycled. It may also be worth checking with your local authority to see if they will accept the bottles. 

More and more places are becoming conscious of the recycling issue, but it is complicated. Some may not accept nail polish bottles.


There are lots of things that you can do to save your nail polish containers from the garbage. Cleaning them thoroughly is key for either recycling or reuse, so make sure you follow this process before you do anything else.