How do I properly dispose of old house paint?

How do I properly dispose of old house paint?

Unless you have painted the majority of your house a single color, you probably have little odds and ends of paint left in buckets around your house. It is great to keep these for paint touch-ups in case you get some dirt, a dent or a mark on your wall. 

However, paint does not last forever, and sometimes you have a color that you are never going to use again. In these instances, it’s important to make sure proper waste disposal is followed when getting rid of house paint.

Is it time to toss it?

Paint can last at least two years if stored properly. You need to make sure the lid is airtight on the can. You also don’t want to store it at too cool of a temperature. Above 50 degrees is best for proper storage. 

Before using the paint again, check for lumps or clumping. This means the paint is starting to dry up and you may not want to use it anymore.

If you have decided to dispose of the paint, the first thing you should consider is the type of paint you have. It could be latex, acrylic, oil or water based. 

Another thing that you need to consider is where you live. Some states have paint take back programs, while others let you put dried up latex paint right in your regular trash. Double check with your community on exact details before disposing.

Disposing different kinds of paint

Oil based paint is considered hazardous waste and should be disposed of at a Household Hazardous Waste Facility. Some communities have locations that you can make drops at whenever you want, while others only have set times when hazardous waste materials are accepted. This is one of those situations when you should do a quick search online for your county’s policies.

Latex and water based paints are not hazardous and can be disposed of in the regular trash. In fact, some communities won’t accept latex based paint at a hazardous waste facility because of the cost to dispose of it that way, when this method is not necessary. 

Dry it out

Before you throw your paint away, make sure you let it dry out so it won’t make a mess. If you have less than a quarter of a can, you can let it sit in the sun for a few days. 

If you have more then a quarter of a can, you can buy a product that will harden your paint. Look for it in your local paint or hardware store. Other options are adding items like mulch, kitty litter or shredded paper to help absorb the paint and make it dry quicker.

Donate it

If you want an alternative to disposing of your paint, consider donating it to a church, community organization or theater group. You can also mix different latex paints together and use them as a base coat for another project. House paint waste disposal can be a last option if these other ones are not of interest to you.

About this Angie’s List Expert: Matt Owings represents Next Day Dumpsters, providing dumpster service in Washington. Since 2007, Next Day Dumpsters have specialized in hauling and debris collection for homeowners in Maryland, Northern Virginia and the Washington D.C. metro area. You can follow this #ALExperts contributor on Twitter @NextDayDumpsters.

As of January 29, 2014, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.

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Dealing with old paint cans


If you have good paint that you can’t use, offer it to family, friends and neighbors, or call a local paint contractor.
If you have good paint that you can’t use, offer it to family, friends and neighbors, or call a local paint contractor.

Not sure what to do with the old paint cans in your garage? There are creative ways to recycle and reuse them, and you can even donate your used paint cans to a painting contractor.

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