Disposing leftover paint.

1 Jun

I hate wastefulness, I also hate knowing that I have not always been the best caretaker of our planet. I don’t always recycle, and I tend to drive short distances when I could have just walked. All those temptations towards instant gratification has definitely spoiled me ;). Considering the fact that I live in California where we are going through a record drought, I need to change my attitude towards certain habits.

One of the things that’s really important to know is how to dispose of toxic chemicals. Paint, especially oil-based, are considered toxic and hazardous to the environment. One should always be careful not to pour paint into the ground or directly into the drain (it could actually damage your piping system!). Oil based paint is considered flammable so you should never try to burn it as the fumes are not only extremely toxic but can also release contaminants into the air.

I use a lot of latex paint, which are water based and are considered non-toxic. However, some latex paints do contain a small amount of mercury which is hazardous to the environment. One should exercise caution not to pour liquid latex down the drain or into the ground.


So how does one get rid of leftover paint?

  1. Reuse. When the paint I am using is not a DIY chalk paint, I store it in a dark cool place sealed with plastic and stored upside down. Sometimes I buy colors that I absolutely despise so I would think of ways to reuse them without forfeiting cosmetic appearance.

    I like to save my unsavory paint colors to paint the insides of drawers and cabinets.
    Use left over paint for layering to distress.

    …Or just little details and trimmings.
  2. Throw away solid latex paint. When I am using DIY chalk paint, I usually mix it in a small container double covered with plastic bags and tightened at the top with rubber bands. This is so I don’t have to constantly buy new containers, and it also makes disposal an easier and simpler process. You shouldn’t throw away liquid latex but it can safely be disposed of in its solid form. Leave the paint outside for a few days to harden then once it has solidified you can safely throw it in the trash! =]

    I leave my paint outside for 2 days to dry.
  3. Recycle your paint! I keep a small container in my cabinet filled with misc paint colors that I couldn’t dispose of or solidify. Whenever I am done with a project I would pour the leftover paint into this small plastic container, when the container is full I would drop it off at my local paint shop for them to dispose!

    My disposable container to be recycled!

    My paint store is Sherwin Williams, they are excellent at getting rid of your leftover paint. Just drop it off and rest assured that none of that toxic waste will be making its way into our food chain!

    Recycle your paint at a local paint store!
  4. Other Alternatives (that I haven’t tried). I heard you can also brush or roll the paint onto layers of newspaper or cardboard. When the paint dries, put the paper in the trash bin. Alternatively, you can pour the paint into a cardboard box and mix it with shredded newspaper, cat litter, or a commercial paint hardener to speed solidification. The box can go in the trash when the paint dries and the cans can be recycled.



There are so many ways to get rid of that paint, I hope you have found a method that is easiest for you! Happy painting!