The Right Way To Throw Away Old Paint

After completing a paint project in your home, you may be unsure what to do with the leftovers. Perhaps you tucked the can into a closet or kept it in the garage for a few months, which quickly turned into a few years. According to Lowe's, the paint may last quite a bit of time after your first use, meaning you could hold onto it for even longer. If you've kept latex or water-based paints, those could last as long as 10 years with good storage, and oil-based cans may be in usable condition for as long as 15 years. If you don't want to toss them and have a project in mind, keep them.

However, when it's time to get rid of them, you have some options. You could donate them to a nonprofit home improvement company or Habitat for Humanity-type of project. If you're just hoping to toss them out, though, you need to know the proper method of doing so.

Getting rid of latex-based paint

Latex- or water-based paints may be ideal on your walls and easy enough to use for multiple projects, but if you plan to throw them away, you'll need to follow a few simple steps. It is not acceptable in most areas to put them into the trash or to pour them down the drain.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency states the best approach is to allow them to dry out fully before you put them into the trash. First, take the lid off and allow the liquid to dry thoroughly. You may be able to speed up the process by adding cat litter to the paint to absorb the moisture within a few minutes. Then, wait until the liter is fully dry before putting it into the refuse. There are also paint-hardening products available at some home improvement stores that can do the job for you as well. Once dry, leave the lid off and then throw it into the trash or follow your area's rules for disposal.

Getting rid of oil-based paint

Oil-based paint is easy to distinguish due to the strong odor it often has, and that odor also makes it far harder to manage the disposal of the material. TrueValue states you should not leave this type of paint open to dry out because the fumes are too strong. They also don't recommend throwing it out or pouring it down the drain.

What can you do with it, then? TrueValue recommends turning to local authorities to determine the right steps to take. This could mean donating, when possible, through an organization like PaintCare, a nonprofit specifically designed for this purpose. You may otherwise need to call your refuse collectors or the city itself to determine if a recycling program or other disposal method exists. Oil-based products are more difficult, so finding a way to use that pigment in a new paint trend in your home may be easier.