The Right Way To Dispose Of Old Paint

Experts recommend repainting the interior of your home every three to five years, according to the PaintRite Pros, so perhaps, it's a good thing Bob Vila reports that when kept properly sealed, paint can remain viable for as many as 10 or 15 years. This means that any leftover from an earlier job may come in handy, compelling homeowners to hold on to old cans for their future value.

Whether you've opted for a different color scheme for your home or the paint has dried out due to improper storage or neglect, there will eventually come a time when disposing of your old paint cans is the right move. Failure to do so can create a mess, as paint cans can litter a homeowner's garage for many years.

But paint disposal isn't as simple as placing your typical home waste at the curb on trash day. Paint is a complex blend of chemicals that can act as toxins in the environment if disposed of improperly. Liquid paint, in particular, is extremely harmful to soil and groundwater, via Better Homes & Gardens. In addition, the type of paint you are throwing away can dramatically change the approach necessary for responsible disposal.

Look to your local ordinances and guidance

Your local or city guidance is a great place to begin when seeking the safest way to throw away old paint. Each community will have its policies on what can be thrown away and how. Checking your local community government website is the best way to approach paint disposal, via The Spruce.

It's also good to check the paint itself to see if it is still viable for future projects. Better Homes & Gardens recommends removing the lid and smelling the contents of the can. If the paint smells rancid or vinegary, then the product has separated too much as should be tossed. Otherwise, finding a satisfactory storage solution to hold onto the can may be a better option overall.

If you've moved on from a particular color in the home and want to throw it away but are having trouble understanding the recommendations from your local authority, donation is another great way to get the cans out of your home. Good Housekeeping recommends donating old cans of paint to Habitat for Humanity or PaintCare so that the coloring agent can be put to good use rather than added to the garbage heap. Good Housekeeping also reports that Earth911 is an excellent resource for homeowners seeking a professional disposal service to drop cans off for responsible destruction.

Dried out paint can be discarded

Latex paint is a favorite choice in many indoor applications, via The Spruce. The good news is that this standard option for homeowners can be disposed of just like any other waste in the home after taking steps to prepare the contents of the can for collection on trash day.

Latex paints are disposable through traditional means, but they must be dried out first, as throwing away liquid paint remains problematic regardless of the type. Better Homes & Gardens reports that a small amount of leftover paint will typically dry in the can if left open. But for larger quantities, pouring the paint onto sheets of newspapers will initiate the drying effect. According to Good Housekeeping, you can also add shredded newspaper, kitty litter, or paint hardener to the solution in the can if pouring the paint out isn't feasible in your space.

As previously mentioned, every local jurisdiction will have its own regulations surrounding curbside disposal, but for the most part, you can toss dried-out latex paints without issue. However, other paint styles remain prohibited. Better Homes & Gardens reports that oil and alkyd-based paints are hazardous to the environment, whether liquid or solid. You can only leave these at the curb for pickup if your community guidelines include household hazardous waste disposal at an authorized facility.