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How to Dispose of a Fire Extinguisher

To dispose of an old fire extinguisher that cannot be refilled or that you do not wish to refill:

  • Release any pressure contained in the canister by shooting a small amount into an open area. 
  • Let the canister sit for a few days, making sure the pressure has been released. 
  • Once there is no longer any pressure, dispose in a trash bag in your regular garbage.

Fire Extinguishers with Content

  • Determine how much content is inside the fire extinguisher by looking at the pressure gauge. The gauge will show you if the unit is overcharged, at the correct pressure or in need of a recharge. Unless the fire extinguisher gauge shows the unit is at the correct pressure, it will need to be refilled or recycled.
  • Contact your community’s Department of Public Works to find out when the next Household Hazardous Waste Event is being held so you can dispose of any fire extinguishers that have contents remaining in the cylinder.

WARNING: Fire extinguishers that are not completely empty are considered hazardous material and should never be thrown in the trash. The contents in the cylinder are under pressure and could cause a dangerous explosion.

Empty Fire Extinguishers

  • Discharge the fire extinguisher to empty any remaining contents that might be lingering inside the cylinder. Prior to recycling, the fire extinguisher must be completely empty.
  • Disconnect the head from the cylinder.
  • Recycle the head and the cylinder at any drop-off site that accepts ferrous metals, such as steel.​


  • If you are unsure where your empty fire extinguisher can be recycled, search for recycling centers in your area at The website has a search feature that allows you to find drop-off locations by city, state or zip code.
  • If the pressure gauge on your fire extinguisher shows that the unit is overcharged, consult the owner’s manual for advice or call your local fire department to determine if it is still usable.