One of the things that you cannot escape while giving your home a makeover is painting. Although the actual process of giving your surfaces a new coat or hue may not be too demanding, the real problem comes in when you are stuck with leftover paint that you don't know how to get rid of. If you have cans of old paint stacked somewhere in your house, it's about time you learned how to dispose of paint the right way.
There are many reasons why you need to learn how to get rid of old paint. Getting rid of unwanted paint will help you declutter your home, and if you do it correctly, you will also be saving the environment in the process.
Leftover paint contains materials that can leak into the ground, cause physical injury to sanitation workers, and even contaminate septic tanks. Thus, anyone who handles paint needs to learn the proper methods of old paint disposal to ensure that they do not harm the environment while doing so.
How to dispose of paint depending on the type of paint
How do you dispose of paint? Here are the methods that you should use during paint disposal.
How to dispose of latex paint
Latex paint is composed of water and is easily cleaned up using water. This makes it relatively easier to dispose of.
For latex paint disposal, do the following:
Let it dry completely
If there's less than a quarter of a can left, let the paint sit in the sun away from kids and pets until it dries out.
If you have more than half a can remaining, you could add a hardener or kitty litter to the paint to solidify it.
Does kitty litter dry up paint? Yes, it does. When using cat litter, follow these steps:
- Add equal parts cat litter to latex paint in the can. If the can is more than half full, pour the paint into a lined box or trash can then pour in the cat litter.
- Next, stir in the cat litter into the paint until it thickens and won't spill.
- Allow the mixture to sit for one hour. It might take more than one hour for the mixture to dry out, depending on how much you have.
If you decide to use a hardener, note that the hardener will turn the leftover paint solid. Once it's solid, scoop it out of the can and dispose of it normally, then recycle the can.
Another method you could use involves using a newspaper to soak up the paint and speed up the drying process.
Throw away the can
After the paint has dried out completely, throw the dried can in the garbage. Make sure you remove the lid.
You could also call a recycling center or your local waste management authority and ask if they could collect it.
How to dispose of oil paint
Oil-based (alkyd) paint contains a solvent and requires thinner for clean up. It is classified as hazardous waste and, therefore, must be taken to an appropriate disposal or drop off-center.
To dispose of paint of this kind, you need to check with your local officials for instructions on how to get rid of it.
You may take it to your city or county's household hazardous waste facility or stop by a local household hazardous waste drop off event.
How to dispose of spray paint
Here is how to get rid of paint that comes in spray cans:
- You will need to use any of the remaining paint in the can because the pressure can make it unsafe. Use any of the remaining paint on a spare cardboard box or things you're going to dispose of.
- Once dried, recycle the can. Note that not all recycling facilities will accept spray cans, so you have to check with them first.
As you can see, the methods of disposing of paint depend on the type of paint you are dealing with. Before you begin getting rid of old paint, you need to determine which type you're dealing with.
Other methods of getting rid of old paint
You could also opt for these alternative methods on how to dispose of old paint:
1. Recycle it
Some manufacturers collect leftover residential paint for post-consumer use.
You could also ask your local paint dealer to help you repurpose excess paint. While repurposing, do the following:
- Filter out solids like thickened paint and brush bristles
- Separate cans into light and dark colors
- With the help of a professional, light-colored hues can be combined and re-tinted to a fresh new color. Dark ones blend into a brown color.
2. Donate it
You may donate the leftovers to your friends, schools around you, or a green building company that might accept it.
You could also post on social media sites that you have leftover paint, and maybe someone who needs it might approach you.
3. Use it up
This is the best option. You could use it on small surfaces, such as photo frames or even cardboxes.
Other tips and FAQs
Here are some tips that might come in handy:
1. Store paint correctly
Water-based (latex) paint has a shelf life of 10 years. Oil-based ones have a shelf life of 15 years if stored in a cool, dry place with proper can sealing. Due to its long shelf life, you can keep paint for many years and use it when needed.
But to keep it fresh, you need to store it properly. Here are tips on how to properly store paint:
- Keep it in its original container with the original label. You should also include the date when you opened the can and the room it corresponds to.
- Seal the can - cover the opening of the can with plastic wrap.
- Put the lid on securely and make sure it does not leak.
- Turn the can upside down to allow the paint to create its seal.
- Store the can upside down in a cool, dry place away from sunlight, safe from freezing, and out of reach of kids and pets.
2. Always buy the right amount
To avoid having anything left over, use a paint calculator to calculate the amount you need for a specific project.
3. Know when paint has gone bad
Before getting rid of old paint just because it is old, you first need to determine whether it has gone bad or can still be used.
Paint has gone bad if:
- It smells more pungent than it usually does
- It's been around longer than a decade.
- It is hard after stirring
- It looks rubbery
4. How do you harden paint?
Mix an equal amount of absorbent kitty litter or sawdust into the paint. The moisture will absorb into the litter or sawdust over the next few days, hardening it. Leave the lid off as it hardens.
5. Can empty paint cans be recycled?
Yes, they can. Empty steel cans are recyclable where steel recycling is accepted
Now that you have learned how to dispose of paint the right way, you may start getting rid of those unsightly cans stacked up in your basement.