Spray paints, deodorants, fly sprays, hair sprays and other products are sold in aerosol containers under pressure and need to be used carefully.

For more advice call The Poisons Centre on 0800 764 766 (0800 POISON).

If a person is not breathing or is unconscious, call 111 immediately.

Staying safe

Using aerosols

The products in aerosol cans are packed under pressure, which means the cans can explode if they get damaged. Often, the product inside the can is something that can catch fire easily, so you need to be careful of that too. Make sure to:

  • read the label carefully and follow all the directions
  • check the aerosol can for damage and leaks before you use it
  • avoid breathing in the product as you spray
  • use the spray outside if possible
  • if you must use the product inside, keep windows open. If the label advises you to keep windows shut, leave the area as soon as you have sprayed and stay away until the product has had time to settle
  • keep far away from fire and heat, including cigarettes.

Storing aerosols

Aerosol cans can leak or even explode if they are damaged. The leaked product may catch fire if it is near heat or a flame. Make sure you store all aerosol cans carefully to keep yourself and others safe. Be sure to:

  • keep cans away from flames or heat sources. Check you don’t have your toilet air freshener or deodorants near a candle
  • check cans before you put them away. Look for damage, listen for hissing sounds, and be alert for the smell of a leak
  • store cans in a place that has a bit of space and stays cool. Don’t put them in car glove boxes.  

Keep cans out of children’s reach and sight. Don’t put your toilet air freshener on the floor beside the toilet.

Disposing of used aerosol cans

Check with your local council or recycling service to see if it accepts aerosol cans for recycling. Many do not, and some may want you to drop your aerosol cans somewhere specifically, or take some steps to prepare the can for recycling. Some may have special requirements for doing so.

Before recycling or throwing away your aerosol can, you need to make sure it’s entirely empty. You may need to spray the last of the contents into a box or bag to throw away separately.

Never inhale an aerosol

It is very dangerous to inhale the contents of aerosol cans on purpose. Even doing this just once can kill you. Doing this regularly over a long period can cause damage to your brain, nervous system, and other organs. Never ever intentionally inhale aerosol products.

If you think someone is sick from inhaling aerosols, call 111 straight away to get an ambulance.