How to Recycle/Dispose of Paint – Latex / Water-Based

The best ways to manage latex, acrylic, and water-based paints and stains are to

  • Use it up!
  • Dry it up!
  • Pass it on!

Latex paint may be safely disposed of in your regular household trash, please read on.

Paints and stains must be dried up before being placed into the trash. Please be sure that your paint is solidified. Liquid paints and stains can spill while awaiting collection or during the collection process; paint leaking into trucks and onto roadways poses tremendous cleanup challenges.

Please do not include latex paint with other Household Hazardous Wastes.

Hundreds of tax dollars are spent each year disposing of latex paint as hazardous when, in fact, it is not hazardous.

Use it up!

Small amounts of paint can be mixed with other colors, or bulked together and used as a primer coat, or on jobs where the final finish is not critical.

Avoid creating waste at the start. Buy only what you need. One gallon of paint will cover between 250 and 350 square feet, depending on the porosity of the surface to be covered. A gallon of paint will cover closer to 250 square feet of surfaces that are more porous.

Dry it up!

  • All residual/leftover paint must be hardened or dried. Remove lids from cans, and put both lids and cans into a plastic trash bag along with your regular household trash.

Cans 1/4 or less full

  • Simply remove the lid and place can in a safe, well-ventilated area.
  • Cans 1/4 or less will dry in a few days.

Cans more than 1/4 full

Mulch, kitty litter, oil dry, or shredded paper may also be used as a bulking/drying agent. Protect your work surface by with old newspaper.

  • Add the drying material to the can and stir to solidify. Set the can aside for 30 minutes or longer. At the end of that time, paint will have a thick, oatmeal-like consistency, but will not spill out of the can.
  • Your paint is now ready for disposal.

Pass it on!

Donate unopened cans of paint. Many schools, religious groups, community groups, and theater groups will accept unopened cans of paint, especially white paint. Even a neighbor may need some extra paint. Also, check your paint store’s policy on returning unopened cans of paint.

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