What Is the Safest Way to Dispose of Paint?

Painting a room or the exterior of a house is an exciting project. A fresh paint coat will make your surface as good as new and gives your space a new feel. But, what do you do with the half-empty cans that are remaining after you’ve painted? Some people let them sit in their garage for years, hoping that they’ll use them again.

But, what do you do when you want to dispose of yours? Pouring paint down your drains isn’t a great solution. The chemicals can clog your drainage system, not to mention that they can pollute our environment. Plus, pouring won’t be practical if the paint has dried.

Paint disposal is much easier than you think. And, doing that keeps your home safe and free of clutter. Learn from this guide how to safely and responsibly dispose of paint.

Many people wonder whether they can throw paint. Well, the truth is it depends on the type of paint in question. Oil-based paints have chemicals that can contaminate water and soil. Therefore, they should not be thrown in trash cans. In fact, doing so is illegal in most states. Latex paint, on the other hand, is not considered hazardous. Therefore, you can throw it in the trash, but you have to follow some guidelines. Whether you have oil-based or latex paint, here are the steps to take.

Consolidate Containers

If you’re unsure of what to do with your almost empty cans, consolidation can work for you. Consolidate all cans of a similar solvent type, color, sheen, and brand into as few cans as possible. For example, if you have a half-gallon of one paint and another quarter of the same color and brand, combine them to make one gallon, then you can easily throw away the empty can.

This tip is useful, especially if you are planning to store and reuse that paint later on. You’ll have fewer cans, meaning they won’t need much space to store them. Plus, your place will appear uncluttered.

Seal Everything

Reusing paint is a great way of protecting the environment. However, this means that you store your paint to use later for your other projects. But, note that leaving paint in cans has various disadvantages. Air can enter into the can causing a film to form on top. Plus, they can take a lot of space, which can appear very unpleasant. And if someone knocks the cans over, their lids can come off, causing the paint to pour. Now consolidation addresses the space issue as it ensures that you are left with few cans to store. But, the other issues can only be addressed by proper sealing. Make sure that you’ve tightly sealed everything to prevent air from entering inside, causing the paint to dry or spill if the can gets knocked over.

It’s also a good idea to invest in glass jars or airtight plastic bags. These properly seal, meaning your paint can last for many years. Using a funnel, transfer your paint to these containers, then label them with the name of the paint, where you bought it from, its color codes, and the surface it is to be painted on. It’s also wise that you include the date should you want to dispose later.

Note that if latex paint is sealed correctly, it can last for ten years, while oil-based paint can go up to 15 years. Therefore, it can be used by your child for his painting projects. However, never store paint in your food containers. If you can’t afford plastic bags or glass jars, please leave it in its original container, labeling the date you opened it. Also, you should store paint in a cool dry place that does not receive any sunlight and where children, as well as pets, can’t access. If you notice that your paint is hard and lumpy or has a foul smell after some time, it has gone bad and can’t be used. So, your only option is to throw it away.

Choose a Professional Recycling Company

If you’re sure that you’ll not use the paint again, donating it can be a great solution. You can check the recycling programs in your community for some ideas. Churches, schools, and municipalities have a paint collection program, where you can donate. However, you can also call professionals to handle this issue. Many companies accept paint and recycle it later. Just look for one within your community and invite them over to collect. But, before considering this option, be sure that you’ll not use the paint again in the future.

So does this mean that you can’t dispose of paint yourself? Not at all. Here are the ways of disposing of different paints.

Latent Paint

Although less hazardous, you shouldn’t throw it in the trash. Most communities have a Household Hazardous Waste collection program or a nearby center that collects waste. Contact them to have your liquid paint disposed of. You can reach them out by calling your city hall or through online searches using your zip code.

But if there is no such center or you simply want to do the disposing yourself, follow these steps;

  • Ensure that the liquid paint is solid.
  • Pour it in a container with an adsorbent material like sawdust. We advise putting some of this material to the bottom of the container, then pouring the paint slowly and mixing the paint with the material.
  • Allow it to dry.
  • Throw it in your trash can.

Oil-Based Paint

These paints must be disposed of by a professional since they have high VOC content, meaning they are flammable. Unlike latex paint, you can’t dry and dispose of the paint yourself. It must be specifically processed by an expert for disposal. Therefore, you’ll have to take it to a disposal center in your community or contact the regional EPA office if you don’t have one near you.

We also should talk about paint disposal regulations. Note that they vary in different locations. However, most states don’t allow pouring paint in the drain. That’s because it contains dangerous chemicals that pollute septic tanks and the environment, causing deadly health conditions to human beings. Some states allow individuals to discard paint with household trash as long as it’s water-based. Please check with your government and the waste disposal center on the correct way to dispose of paint.

What About Disposing of Paint Cans?

Cans that contain latex or oil paint can be thrown in the trash or donated to a recycling program within your community. However, make sure that the can is dry and you can see the bottom. But a little paint remaining isn’t harmful. Also, take the lid off before disposing of.

Like trash removal, paint disposal is also a challenging task that needs planning. However, the above tips can help you dispose of paint safely and responsibly. But, we emphasize checking with paint disposal regulations in your state first as you don’t want to be on the wrong side of the law.