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How to dispose of paint –tips and tricks


Woman mixing paint

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Recently painted the kitchen or living room walls? Or maybe you’ve finally gotten around to giving the shed a little wood varnish make-over? When you’re doing a bit of colourful DIY work, the paint cans can quickly stack up. Half-used paints may have already collected in your garage for years never to be used again. It’s time for a clear-out! But what do you do with near-empty or even half-full paint cans? How do you safely and responsibly dispose of wall paint properly? We’ll show you!

Before you throw away paint cans, check local regulations

While it’s always good to know how to dispose of paint, it’s best to check out any local regulations on throwing paint with the bin. There could also be specialist recycling centres near you that take paint cans. These will ensure that your old paint gets recycled and thrown away properly. Some recycling facilities will only accept tin but not plastic cans.

Haven’t used it yet? Take it back!

If you haven’t used your paint yet, but decided against a colour or varnish after all, some stores will actually take it back and refund you as long as you’ve kept the receipt. Make sure you check your store policy before buying paint though because this isn’t always the case, especially if you’ve purchased mixed paint.

Give it away – everyone loves freebies!

Just because you don’t want the olive-green wall paint or the wood varnish, doesn’t mean someone else won’t. This means you don’t necessarily have to dispose of the paint!

Before you give away old paint, make sure it’s been stored in a cool, dry place with a tight lid and has not been exposed to extreme temperatures. Paint can be stored for up to 10 years in most cases. Oil-based paints last even longer at 15 years. It’s best to smell the paint to see if it could be reused. If it has a strong, pungent odour, it may be off and all you can do is throw it away. 

If it’s in good condition, you could post your free goodies to online classified sites or web forums that accept freebies. There are plenty of recycling websites where people can exchange their goods. One man's trash is another man's treasure, as the saying goes. Alternatively, look for a charity or community project that may be in need of your unused paints. 

Throwing out paint – where can I dispose of paint?

Latex-based paint

When you’ve decided that the paint has got to go or there are no takers for your free offerings, you should let it dry out before dumping it. That’s a good way of getting rid of cans with very little paint left in them. You can just open them up and leave them to dry in the sun in the garden. However, always make sure they are inaccessible to children and animals and not at risk of being knocked over as this could cause environmental hazards to the soil or plants in the surrounding area. You can speed up the drying process by adding cat litter or newspaper to the can. Now what? Well, you can actually throw your latex paint in the bin, but ONLY when it is completely solid.

Oil-based paint

Take it to the nearest city or county’s hazardous waste disposal facility. Use the government website to find your local facility. Before you take this step, do however, consider donating your old paint to charity organisations or – especially if you have more cans – book a waste collection. 

We hope you have found this article on how to dispose of paint useful. We have additional articles that might interest you, such as how to unblock a drain, how to unblock a sink and how to remove sticker residue.