Paint Recycling, Disposal, and Storage

How to Store and Recycle Paint the Right Way

Do you want to learn how to store that expensive can of paint for later use? Want to recycle your paint but don’t know where to start? This article outlines the right way to store and recycle leftover paint so you can save some money and Mother Earth at the same time.

You’ve spruced up your outdated furniture, slapped a new white coat on the door, and the shed looks better now than when you first put it up—great. Now it’s time to find something to do with that half-empty can of paint you’ve got leftover. Depending on the type you have, you can either recycle it with hazardous waste, toss it in the trash, or save it for a rainy day (paint doesn’t come cheap).

This article will cover everything you need to know about safely storing and disposing of paint.

How to Store Paint Like a Pro

Latex paint is good for up to a year after it’s been opened and makes a great base or quick-fix on surfaces that’ll be out of sight. Oil-based paints are good for up to 15 years. What we’re trying to say is there’s no reason not to store them for future use. Here’s how:

  • Wipe the grooves of the can clean for a tight seal
  • Seal the lid by tapping it with a rubber mallet (if you don’t have one, put a piece of wood on the lid and use a hammer)
  • Store it upside down in a cool, dry place
  • Write the formula on the lid so you know how to get the exact color again
  • Be sure to keep it out of the reach of children and pets

Pro Tip: Store paint in plastic bottles to minimize exposure to oxygen. This paint hack will keep it in good condition longer.

Reusing Paint

Need to fix up a few things around the yard? Open up that paint! But don’t use a screwdriver, it might warp the lid and make it difficult to seal. Use a key if possible or one of the special tools given to you by the store. Here are some tips:

  • Smell latex paint first. If it’s rancid, ditch it (properly!).
  • Make sure the paint blends together smoothly. If it’s lumpy, it has got to go.
  • If you aren’t sure, put some paint onto a piece of paper and check its composition.

Disposing of Paint

There are a few options for disposing of paint safely. The right one for you depends on the type of paint you have.

Latex Paint

You should look into paint recycling programs in your local area. Someone might be able to use your unused latex paint. Check with local schools, painting companies, or the municipality to find a program near you. If you can’t recycle it, throw it out. Here’s how:

  • Dry it out: Pour the paint into a plastic container and dry it out with an equal portion of kitty litter or some scraps of paper.
  • Mix it: Mix it together until it’s dry.
  • Leave it: Let it sit for an hour.
  • Trash it: Latex paint is not considered toxic, so it’s fine in the trash.
  • Recycle the Can: Empty paint cans can go in the bin with other metals once they’re dry.

Oil-Based Paint

Oil paints are a bit trickier and could be hazardous. Follow these steps to dispose of them safely.

  • Check the Label: Are there any hazardous materials? If so, you’ll need special disposal.
  • Dry it: Let the can air dry or mix in kitty litter or a commercial paint hardener.
  • Find a Facility: Find a hazardous waste disposal facility and drop it off.

That’s it. Storing and recycling paint doesn’t have to be difficult or dangerous. Just remember that it should never go down the drain or out in the yard. Dry it out and dispose of it in the trash or by finding the right recycle center.