Better Ways to Dispose of Paint

A lot of us have had leftover cans of paint lingering in our basement or garage. It often isn’t something we think twice about, unless we’re wondering how we can properly dispose of it. After all, it seems like it can’t be as easy as simply throwing the leftovers into a nearby dumpster. You also shouldn’t empty your paint extras down the drain, no matter how much is left in your can. Paint can actually be hazardous, not least of all because it contains materials that may leak into the ground. Instead, dispose of your leftover paint in a better way.

Consider Future Paint Needs

When a can of paint is sealed correctly, it can last as long as ten years if it is latex-based paint or up to 15 years if it is oil-based paint. While you may think “who would keep paint that long?” consider this: do you have any small ones running around? What about pets? Have you ever repositioned your furniture? Chances are the next time your child decides to make the living room wall their art project or when your entertainment center scratches a nearby wall, you’ll be happy you saved the leftover paint. Always keep paint in its original container and save the original label. Don’t forget to add your own label, noting the date you first opened the can and what room the paint corresponds to. When you seal your can of paint, place some plastic wrap over the lid and hammer that lid into place. Paint should be kept in a cool, dry area that is away from sunlight. It should also be kept out of reach of both children and pets.


When you think of donating items, you probably think of clothes, shoes, and unwanted knick­knacks. Change the way you think! Ask your friends or a neighbour if they want to use your leftover paint as part of a project of their own. Call local schools to see if they have any upcoming projects that might require paint, or get in touch with a local non-profit organization to see if the paint could be of value to them. You could also list it on a local buy/sell/trade website to see if anyone would take it off your hands for free.

Dry it Out

Let’s say that you don’t want to keep the paint and you can’t find anyone else who would have a use for it. To dispose of leftover cans of paint, you should first dry the paint out. If there isn’t much paint left, putting the can in direct sunlight will probably do the trick for you. If there’s more than a little in the bottom of your can, try adding kitty litter or even newspaper to help soak up leftover paint and hurry up the drying process.

You can also purchase a paint hardener from a local hardware store. Once your paint is dry, you should check your local laws to see how to properly dispose of it. Many states will actually let you throw out your dried paint with the rest of your household trash!

Ask Your Local Hardware Store

Many times if you just can’t seem to get rid of your leftover paint, the store you purchased it from may take it back. They’ll recycle it or use it for samples and many other things. Disposing of your leftover paint might seem like a chore, but it doesn’t have to be. There are many ways you can dispose of paint while keeping the environment safe.