Disposing of Leftover Paint
Reduce, Reuse & Recycle
Preventing waste in the first place is the best, least expensive method of disposal. For paint, we recommend you follow disposal options in this order:
- Reduce - Buy only what you need and return unopened cans. If you are at the end of a job and realize you only need a small amount to finish, exchange the unopened can for a quart.
- Reuse - Use leftovers for second coats, touch-ups, and painting fences, birdhouses, and basements. Give it to a friend, neighbor, or small business owner. Or, donate leftovers to community groups, schools, local theater groups, recreation departments, sign painters, farmers for fences, etc.
- Recycle - Old latex paints can be blended together to produce beige and gray. Oil-based paints may also be mixed together. Do not mix oil-based paint with latex paint. Mixed latex paints can be used for fences, basements, sheds, etc.
Dispose of Safely
If no other alternative exists, what cannot be reused can be solidified by following these instructions.
Latex paint is not hazardous waste! Latex paints are water-based and are a safer substitute for oil-based paints. They may be solidified (allowed to harden), absorbed, and then placed in the trash. Take the top off the pain can and place it outside, away from pets and children. Allow it to harden. If the can is very full, absorb the material by mixing it with sawdust, clay-based cat litter, or rags. Stir with a stick until all the paint is absorbed. When the paint is solidified, it can be placed in the trash leaving the lid off.
Save oil-based paint for a household hazardous waste collection day. If none are scheduled, you can mix it with an absorbent material like sawdust, clay-based cat litter, or rags. Small quantities can be mixed in the can. Larger quantities can be mixed in a box with a plastic bag lining. Stir with a stick until all the paint is absorbed. Mix outside away from pets and children and be sure to wear gloves. Avoid this procedure if you have chronic respiratory problems. Once the paint is completely dry, put it in your trash.