Kathy’s Home & Garden Tips – Safe Paint Disposal

I’m trying to downsize and I was looking in my basement, wondering what I can do with all the partially empty cans. I usually do well calculating how much paint I will need and don’t have too much leftover. However, I still have many cans to get rid of. A note: oil-based paint is considered a hazardous waste and needs to be taken to a special facility. Google the town you’re in and look for a hazardous waste disposal. Of course, don’t ever pour paint down the drain, storm sewer, or on the ground. It’s bad for the plumbing and will eventually end up in the ground water.

Latex paint can be safely disposed of three ways. First: use a paint hardener, available at hardware stores. It will harden the paint in 30 minutes and then it’s ready for disposal.  Second: add enough kitty litter or sawdust to absorb all the extra paint. Third: if the amount in the can is small, simply leave the lid off until the paint is completely dried. The idea here is to dry the paint out in some way. When done, place each can in a separate plastic bag, tie securely, and dispose. 

If you have usable amounts, consider giving it away. Most communities have freecycle.org listings; a site where you can look for and give away items. Craigslist works too, but be safe and meet in a public place (not at your home). Schools, drama clubs, and artists groups can often use leftover paint.  

There are a few ways to keep paint fresh for reuse by you or others. Always use a paint key to open paint lids, as screwdrivers can dent lids. Cover the top of the can with plastic wrap for a more airtight seal. Use a mallet to replace lids tightly. Date the can; paint does expire. Store in a cool, dry place off the floor.