How To Dispose Of Paint

By Robert Robillard on Workshop tips

10 Steps to A Perfect Paint Job

How To Safely Dispose of Latex Paint

Every few years I clean out my basement workshop and end up having to wrestle with a dozen half used paint cans. Some of the paint is good and some is not, or is a long forgotten color. The question often posed to me how do I dispose of my paint.

Disposing liquid paint down the drain, or in the trash, poses environmental problems. Additionally, sometimes the paint cans are crushed in the trash truck and paint spills all over the street, causing an unsightly mess.
There are several ways to dispose of paint and I will discuss four of them:

  1. Use it up
  2. Donate
  3. Bring it to a municipal paint collection program
  4. Dry it, and dispose in trash

Use it Up

Many times, I have a half gallon of paint, and I’m purchasing more of the same color. In this case, I simply add the old to the new, called “boxing, and then try to use it all up or store whats left. I typically use a clean 5-gallon bucket to box the paint, pouring them back into their original containers afterward.

Donate Paint

If you have cans of unused paint, or paint left over that is in usable condition, try to donate it to a community service organization or theater group. My local theatre is always looking for good paint.

Municipal Paint Collection Program

Once a year my town offers a hazardous collection day and this is a great time to get rid of your oil based paints and stains.

While latex paint is not hazardous, oil-based paints is considered Hazardous Household Waste (HHW). If your unsure if your paint is oil based look on the label for the words oil-based paint or

Oil paint requires you to clean brushes with mineral spirits or paint thinner.

How To Dispose Of Paint

Dry It and Dispose In Trash

Latex paint is the most popular paint on the market, accounting for approximately 85 percent of paint sales in United States. It is preferred by most do-it-yourselfers because of the ease of cleaning up with soap and water.

Latex paint can be disposed of in your trash, if dry. Drying latex paint is easy to do.  Drying can be accomplished in two ways:

  • Air dry – good for small amounts, play in the sun to dry
  • Cat Litter Mix – accelerates drying for large quantities

How To Dispose Of Paint

Drying Latex Paint for Disposal

For larger amounts of latex paint, mix equal parts cat litter into the latex paint can. If you have more than a half a can, you can also pour the paint into a 5-gallon bucket for mixing.

Stir the cat litter into the paint until it has an “oatmeal-like” consistency that will not spill out. Allow the drying mixture to sit for one hour or until dry. Once dry, you can throw the dried paint in the can in the garbage with the lid off. Trash contractors will not take paint cans if the lids are on.

How To Dispose of Paint Video


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About the author

Robert Robillard

Carpenter / Remodeler / Editor

Rob Robillard is “The Concord Carpenter” Rob is a builder, general contractor, carpenter, woodworker, and editor of Concord Carpenter and ToolBoxBuzz As a General Contractor and carpenter, Rob owns and operates Concord Carpenter LLC. A full-service remodeling and construction company. Rob is a recognized leader in home building best practices and a source for how-to information for building professionals. On this website, Rob covers all aspects of home construction, building science, home improvement, woodworking, remodeling, and some of the best product and tool reviews. Rob is in charge of our Tool and Product Review series - Concord Carpenter Videos where we post all of our tool reviews and video tutorials. Rob approaches remodeling and building construction with a pragmatic and problem-solving approach. He enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help and educate building professionals as well as DIYers on best practices in the construction and remodeling industry. He's a strong advocate for "raising the bar" in the construction trades and promoting the trades to youth. #BeAMentor #Green2Great Craftsmanship, quality, and pride guide his journey on this channel The Concord Carpenter's motto: "Well done is better than well said!" : Read more about Rob

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