How to Dispose of Paint – A Guide

Disposing of old paint can be a challenge depending on the type of paint and the regulations where you live.

Paint keeps the interior and exterior of a house looking clean, bright, and fresh, and it also protects surfaces beneath it from weathering, water damage, stains, and other factors that can affect them. Because of how it improves appearances, paint also makes a home look more appealing to prospective buyers and helps with its resale value, which is why people usually paint their homes before putting them on the market.

So everyone understands why it’s important to keep your paint in good condition.

However, unless you’re a master at planning or just exceptionally lucky, you’ve probably found yourself with a little collection of opened but unfinished paint cans after the completion of a job. And if that wasn’t your first painting project, that collection of partially empty cans has probably grown over the years.

Even if you hired a professional for the job, you’re likely to have those leftover cans since when you hire a service, you’re usually buying the paint as well as paying for the work to be done. That means you’ll be left with the remaining paint upon completion of the job. If the painting company is willing to take the remaining paint with them and dispose of it, it’s likely they’ll charge you extra for the service.

In the end, then, it’s most likely going to be up to you to properly dispose of the paint, so there are several questions to ask:

Can I Store and Reuse My Paint?

Having some leftover paint is not necessarily a bad thing. There will be times when some touching-up is needed but a full paint job isn’t. At such times, having some of the original paint around is handy because it’s convenient and it’s cheaper than buying a whole new can of paint just for some touch-ups.

If you’re going to reuse old paint, you first have to determine whether or not it’s still usable. Paint that’s still less than 5 years old and which has been stored properly (tight seal, cool and dry location) is typically fine to use again. In case you don’t know how old the paint is or just want to check it, anyway, you can do these three things:

  • Smell the paint to detect a sour odor. If it has one, the paint has gone bad and you can’t reuse it.
  • Stir the paint. If it’s lumpy or if it’s so runny that it won’t thicken up, it’s time to get rid of it.
  • Look for mold at the bottom of the can. Blue or black specks mean the paint has to go.

Can I Donate or Give Away My Paint?

If the paint is still usable, then yes, you can donate it to a charitable organization or give it away to someone like a neighbor who has a use for it. Many nonprofits and school groups could use paint for community projects. Before you donate the paint, though, make sure the organization actually wants it. Don’t just drop it off and make your problem someone else’s.

Can I Throw the Old Paint Away?

This is a classic “It depends” answer. If it’s oil-based paint you need to dispose of, the answer is going to be a hard “No” because oil-based paints contain chemicals that can harm the environment. Trash services won’t take oil-based paints, and in most states, it’s flat-out illegal to put them in the trash.

For latex paints, it’s more “It depends.” In some locations, it’s fine to put latex paint in the trash, but in others, it isn’t. To add more complexity, some locations disallow it in the regular trash pickup but allow it for special collections or other disposal means. So if it’s latex paint you have to get rid of, you’ll have to check first.

Can I Hire a Junk Removal Service?

In most cases, yes, you can, and if you’re not allowed to throw the paint away, this might be the most convenient option. After you contact the service, someone will come out and provide a quote, and if you accept it, they’ll haul everything away and take care of the disposal. Be aware, though, that junk removal services base pricing on volume, so the more there is, the more you’ll pay. You might also have to pay extra when there are special regulations for paint disposal.

How Do You Dispose of Latex Paint?

Assuming you’re allowed to put latex paint in the trash, you can do these three things:

  • Take the lid off and throw it away separately.
  • Let the remaining paint dry out before you throw the can away. You can speed this up by adding some cat litter.
  • If you have recycling services, pour the remaining paint into a cardboard box and let it dry. Put the can in your recycling bin.

Again, check to make sure you’re following local requirements.

How Do You Dispose of Oil-Based Paint?

You’re not stuck with your extra oil-based paint forever. Any of the following may solve the problem:

  • Your city or county should have a hazardous waste facility that can take it.
  • Be on the lookout for local hazardous waste collection events.
  • See if a junk removal service will take it.

Hire a Waste & Disposal Service to Dispose of the Paint

A roll–off dumpster is a convenient solution because you can dispose of large quantities of waste easily. The rental company delivers a rectangular, open-topped bin, you fill it at your pace, and when you’re done, the company comes back and hauls the bin away.

For a dumpster rental in Orlando, RGH Waste & Disposal provides dumpsters in sizes suitable to any job. If it’s paint you need to dispose of, we can help you navigate the local rules so that you’re not illegally disposing of items and risking heavy fines. Our rental dumpsters are also great for waste disposal following renovations, remodels, spring cleanups, garage cleanouts, and more.

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Lisa is the General Manager of RGH Waste and Disposal LLC. After many years of working in waste management, Lisa has ‘seen it all’ and then some! She knows the 'ins' and 'outs' of waste disposal and has a wealth of experience from years of working with first-time dumpster renters to seasoned commercial clients.