How To Dispose Of Old Paint

How To Recycle Or Dispose Of Old Tins Of Paint In The Correct Way

How to Properly dispose of Old Paint – Garage Cleaning Tip

The aftermath of any DIY painting project is usually what to do with leftover tins of paint.

Whilst it may seem a load of hassle and effort to get rid of old paint but actually its easier than you think, and hopefully our brief guide will help you.

Tins of leftover paint cannot be put into your normal household rubbish bins, nor can old paint be poured down the drain, so how do you get rid of old paint without harming the environment or breaking the law?

This handy guide shows you the correct way to get rid of paint, with relevant links at the end of the article where you can locate your nearest council recycling centre.

We have included handy information not only for users in the UK, but also there is advice for readers in Canada, the US and Australia at the foot of the page.

How To Dispose Of Paint Method #: Mix And Reuse Latex Paints

Latex paints can be blended and used, though don’t expect an aesthetically pleasing hue. Still, for base coats and functional paint jobs, this is an economical and environmentally friendly way to reuse old paint. Berry also recommends checking with local waste haulers, municipalities and schools many have programs to collect paints, blend them and use them on community projects. “We shouldn’t look at how to recycle first, but who can use this next,” she said.

How To Dispose Of Old Paint And Cans

Research shows that on average, people store about 3 gallons of paint in their homes. If youre one of these people, you may be wondering whats the best way to get rid of all that paint

Heres how you can dispose of old paint and cans:

  • Dry the remaining paint.
  • Dispose of the dried paint and can.
  • Recycle the old paint and cans if possible.
  • Learn the details of every step plus some tips on paint and can recycling by reading below.


    As with most industrial liquids, paint is something you shouldnt throw away.

    Oil-based paint contains harmful substances such as:

    Latex paint, on the other hand, is laced with some chemicals that are harmful to wildlife. If disposed of wrongly, any of these paints can leach into the ground and damage the environment.

    Are you thinking of flushing the paint? Dont even dare. Not only will it ruin your plumbing, but it can also contaminate your water supply.

    To make matters worse, its no secret that prolonged contact with paint can be harmful to your health. The same is true for the people who need to deal with it! Just think of the poor sanitation workers who might get sick because of your reckless abandon.

    For these reasons, its important to dry the remaining paint in your cans before disposal.

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    Where To Bring Your Hazardous Waste

    The best way to dispose hazardous waste is to take it to a SAFE Disposal Event, which are held twice a year in every borough, in the spring and fall. A schedule of upcoming SAFE events can be found here.

    If you cant make it to a SAFE Disposal event, DSNY has special waste drop-off sites across the city, which you can find here, or by calling 311. Note that DSNY Special Waste Drop-Off sites and DSNY SAFE Disposal Events accept different items. A list of the products that are accepted at each can be found on pages 19 and 20 of the Harmful Products Guide.

    Dry It Out Put It At The Curb

    Safely dispose old paint cans challenge

    If none of these are viable options for you, latex paint can be placed out with your regular household garbage if it is in a solid form. You can do this by leaving the lid off the can and letting the paint harden. To accelerate this process, place kitty litter, sand or shredded paper in the can. Once dry, you can place the paint can, lid off, next to your garbage cart on your regular pick up day.

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    Can I Be Fined For Dumping Paint In The Trash

    Yes. In both the US and UK, illegal dumping/illegal waste disposal are offenses subject to fines and, in extreme cases with repeat offending, even subject to felony charges. You have to dispose of paint correctly to avoid these unpleasant consequences. Fortunately, as weve seen, there are quite a few options for disposing of leftover paint safely and correctly the fact that you can help charities with your paint donations is even better.

    Where Can You Dispose Of Paint

    The paint cans incorporate the management and recycling approach for the fight against pollution. However, the law forbids putting them in yellow bins, especially glycerol and acrylic coatings.

    Also, avoid throwing leftover paint in the sink or toilet. The latter is in fact like a hazardous household waste. The same is true for the water used to clean the painting equipment.

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    How To Dispose Of Paint Method #: Dispose Of Oil Paints As Hazardous Waste

    For oil-based paints, the best option for disposal is a local Household Hazardous Waste facility. Some communities offer year-round access to these waste-handling services, but others offer drop-off days only once or twice a year. Check with your municipality or waste hauler for details, or plug in your zip code at’s recycling center locator or call 1-800-CLEANUP . PaintCare cautions that “air-drying of liquid alkyd or oil based paint is not considered safe.”

    How To Recycle Paint

    How to Properly Dispose of Old Paint

    As it is illegal to improperly dispose of paint, recycling is a great alternative. While waiting for liquid paint to harden and then taking it to your local tip is an option, why not find an alternative use for it. If youre unsure of how to recycle paint, the following ideas are great options:

    • Give leftover paint to a family member, friend or neighbour.
    • Look into local charity organisations like Community RePaint where your paint will go to a family in social need.
    • Check out websites like Freecycle that put you in touch with someone in your local area who needs paint.

    Remember that paint can have a serious effect on the environment and contaminate bodies of water if poured down a drain.

    Find a trusted painter and decorator near you

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    How To Dispose Of Emulsion Paint

    Emulsion paint is available in many colours and is perfect for making your home look amazing. It becomes an issue however when you have finished painting and are left with half-full paint cans.

    Many people search for how to dispose of emulsion paint and it really isnt too difficult. Emulsion paint can be disposed of in a similar manner to old paint. You will need to wait until the paint has hardened before throwing it away. It is always worth looking into alternative ways to recycle emulsion paint too, see our below how to recycle paint section.

    What You Can Do With Old Paint

    Apart from sending paint to the recycling facility, you can also try these three green alternatives:

    Use the Old Paint

    Unlike most liquids that go bad after some time, paint tends to last. Oil-based paint can last for up to 15 years, while latex paint has a shorter lifespan at only ten. This, of course, is based on the assumption that it hasnt been frozen and thawed.

    If you want to check for the quality of the paint, all you need to do is stir it. As a general rule, your paint is still usable if it still mixes well. It should have a smooth composition not thick or rubbery. There should be no lumps in the mix either.

    You can check the consistency by applying a layer of paint on, say, a cardboard surface. If the paint appears rough or peels quickly, then the dye is past its prime.

    Additionally, good paint should be free of a foul or pungent smell.

    Lets say that after checking, you can say with confidence that your old paint is good. By all means, you should go ahead and use it for some minor tweaks and touch-ups.

    Perhaps theres a wall that needs a second coat. You can even use it to paint your closet in a different color!

    Want a unique shade? You can go ahead and mix your old paints.

    If some more paint remains after such projects, you can always keep it for future use. Here are some storage tips thatll keep your old paint good for the years to come:

    Donate the Old Paint

    Return the Paint

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    Put Cans Of Paint In Your Bin

    It may be tempting to just fling the unwanted cans of paint into your bin, but unfortunately, it is not as easy as this. Usual bin collection services from your local council will not be able to dispose of this liquid in their normal methods, slowing it down as a whole and maybe even causing further damage to the environment.

    How To Dispose Of Paint Method #: Store Unused Paint

    Old Paint Removal &  Disposal

    PaintCare recommends covering the paint can’s mouth with plastic wrap, tightly securing the lid, then turning the leak-proof can upside down for storage. Store paint in a place that is out of reach for children and pets, and that won’t get too hot, and won’t freeze. Remember to label your paints so you know which room each can corresponds to.

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    Try To Use Leftover Paint Or Consider Donating

    Rarely will you finish a paint project and not have leftover paint. Storing leftover paint properly will increase your chance of being able to reuse that paint at a later time for other paint projects. If you cant find another use for the leftover paint, consider donating it to someone who can use it.

    How Do You Recycle Paint

    Home improvement projects are all the craze these days as many homeowners and renters look to add a little personality to their properties or seek an inexpensive way to remodel. A new paint job is a great way to enhance curb appeal, hide stains, or add positive energy to any home, but once the kitchen is brighter, or baby brothers new room is blue, what are people supposed to do with leftover paint? What are the best steps to paint recycling to be sure people dispose of paint properly? This article is dedicated to answering those questions and provide helpful tips to homeowners on the proper paint recycling procedures for water based paint, acrylic paint, latex paint and more. So lets dive into it all!

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    What To Do With Empty Paint Cans

    The management and recycling of paint cans must be efficient in order to avoid pollution. But the process will be slightly different depending on whether it is an empty container of glycerol paint and an empty container of water-based paint. You may be tempted to get rid of your paint cans by throwing them in the yellow trash.

    How To Dispose Of Paint Method #: Toss Latex Paint In The Trash But Recycle The Cans

    Quick Tip: How to Dispose of Old Paint

    Unlike oil paints, latex paints aren’t considered hazardous waste. If you have leftover latex paints that can’t be recycled, reused or stored, pour the paints into a box with shredded paper or kitty litter, allow it to solidify away from kids or pets, then discard in the trash. Recycle empty paint cans with other metals.

    If dried paint fills a can to a depth of about a half inch or less, dry it in the can and recycle the paint can. If you have a more-or-less full can of dried latex paint, unfortunately, the next step is to remove the lid and toss the whole can in with the trash.

    “If you have the opportunity to recycle the paint and recycle the can,” Berry said, “that’s the best option.” We agree.

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    How To Dispose Of Paint Thinner

    Similar to paint, paint thinner and solvents are extremely damaging to the environment and the health of individuals. Never pour paint thinner down a drain, throw it in your household waste or put it in a skip, even though it may seem like the easiest option.

    Paint thinner is also a fire hazard so great care should be taken when disposing of any cans. Furthermore, as it is classed as hazardous waste, paint thinner should be disposed of at your closest hazardous waste disposal service.

    Wondering how to recycle paint thinner? You can pour your used paint thinner into a transparent pot with a sealed lid then wait for the paint to sink to the base of the pot. You can then reuse the paint thinner by siphoning off the paint free top layer.

    Please note, you will then need to dispose of the paint as described in our how to dispose of old paint section.

    Disposal Of Paint Cans

    Completely dry paint can that contained oil-based or latex-based paint may be disposed of in the trash or your communitys recycling program if you have one, and if they accept paint cans.

    Before disposal, wipe the can clean with paper towels until you can see the metal bottom of the can. Make sure to take the lid off the can before disposing of it. A small amount of dried paint residue is not a problem and will not affect recycling.

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    How To Dispose Of Latex Paint

    Most waste collection companies request that only solidified latex paint be thrown into the garbage and taken to the landfill. If there’s only a small amount of latex paint left in the can, remove the lid and let it air dry. Alternatively, pour the paint out onto a newspaper-covered surface and let it dry. Throw the newspaper, dried paint, and can into the garbage for pickup.

    To dry larger quantities of paint, add cat litter or shredded newspaper to the paint, stir, and let it air dry inside the can. Throw the can and its dried contents into the garbage for regular pickup. You also can purchase paint hardener, which is available at many home improvement stores for a few dollars add it to the paint , allow it to harden, and throw it all in the trash.

    How Long Does It Take For A Can Of Paint To Dry Out

    Paint Tin Disposal Guide

    A small amount of latex paint less than one inch will take two to four hours of drying time under the sun. Meanwhile, itll take an hour to dry every half-inch of paint with sand, sawdust, or kitty litter.

    You may be able to cut some time from this by stirring the mixture regularly. Another shortcut is to dry the paint in batches.

    Even with these timelines, the drying process may last for months. The time will depend on the paint quality.

    If you want to speed things up, you can use a hardener, which takes the appearance of an absorbent powder. This should dry a large amount of latex paint in a few days.

    Remember: You need to make sure that the paint is indeed dry. Before you throw the can away or recycle it, pierce the paint first to check.

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    If You Feel Bad Just Tossing It Try To Donate It

    If you know you won’t use the paint for your walls again, try to recycle it or use it up. Ask a friend if they need some paint or use the leftovers to dress up an old stool or bookshelf. Call your local elementary school to see if they have any big art projects coming up, or search for green building companies that might accept extra paint. Habitat for Humanities ReStores, for example, takes latex paint. Or list it on a site like to see if anyone wants to take it off your hands.

    How To Dispose Of Paint Cans

    If the can contains dried paint, make sure to remove the lid before throwing it in the bin. That way, the sanitation worker can quickly check if the paint has indeed dried.

    As for empty cans, its as simple as throwing them away with your other recyclables.

    You can also upcycle them for other projects .

    As a gentle reminder, these disposal methods are only applicable to latex paint cans. Those that contain oil-based paints should be handed over to a hazardous waste facility.

    If you dont know where to find one, you can always ask your local waste management agency for directions to the nearest branch.

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    How Do You Dispose Of Water

    One of the most frequently asked questions homeowners have is how to dispose of latex paint without taking it to a paint recycling facility. The best way to dispose of latex water-based paint is to put the latex paint in a bag of kitty litter . Stir the paint and kitty litter mix until the combination thickens and can not spill. Once the mixture has had at least an hour to sit and solidify, simply throw it in the regular trash. Boom! And just like that you recycled latex paint at home without taking it to a paint recycling facility!

    How To Properly Dispose Of Old Paint

    Waste Disposal 101: How to Dispose of Latex Paint

    If youve been in your home for a little while, youve probably tackled some household updates, painted some rooms, touched up the trim, and so on And if youre like many, many people who purchase paint for these projects, you likely have some old paint cans laying around in the basement or garage.

    Hopefully you know that old paint shouldnt just be thrown in the trash as is but what should you do with it? The chemicals in paint can seep into the ground, contaminate septic systems, and pose risks to sanitation workers. Simply tossing half-full paint cans out with the rest of the garbage is a mistake that could put others in harms way.

    Fortunately, there are safe, proper ways to dispose of old paint cans in a responsible manner!

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