What to Do with Extra Paint

Here’s a question we get fairly often that you might not know the answer to: How do you dispose of extra paint? Now, there are three types of people when it comes to this question, those who know the answer, those who don’t and want to know, and those who didn’t realize there was a need for a special process at all. We call this last type “sink dumpers,” and if you’re one of them, we won’t tell, but read this before you toss out another bucket!


There is an actual process for throwing away almost every kind of paint out there, and not doing so correctly can not only do harm to the environment and the area around your home, it can also lead to rather huge fines if you’re caught, depending on where you live.

With that in mind, it starts to make a lot of sense to know how to do this thing correctly, and that’s where your good friends at Prestige Painting step in!

Here’s how to correctly dispose of paint, with instructions for the various kinds you’re likely to be using.

Things Not to Do

First off, let’s get what you should absolutely never do out of the way.



-Pour paint into the sink, storm drains, into bodies of water, into dumpsters or on the ground.

-Throw wet paint into the trash, even in a can.

-Burn paint.

All of these are dangerous and/or illegal, and they are never the correct way to dispose of any kind of paint.

Getting Rid of Oil Paints

More than likely you don’t have oil paint, but you can tell if you do by checking the container. If it mentions anything about oil, or “alkyd” or tells you that you’ll need turpentine or mineral spirits to clean it up, it’s more than likely an oil-based paint. Oil-based paints actually fall under the Hazardous Household Waste category, and there’s no method for disposing of this stuff safely at home. Doing so through the sink will be terrible for the pipes and city water supply, while doing so through the ground or trash will introduce awful, damaging chemicals to the environment. This is also one of those “could get you a fine” methods, so it’s always better to do it the right way than to risk it.

The only true method for disposing of oil paints is to take them to a facility that can process Hazardous Household Waste. Every town should have one of these, and to find it, either go online or call your local government. It should be fairly easy to locate a close place to dispose of oil paint, and they’ll make sure it gets processed properly without damage to the environment or humans.

Disposing of Latex Paint

Latex paint, while slightly less harmful than oil-based paint, is still not acceptable for simple dumping. You can use the method above and take the paint to a facility that can recycle it, or you can dry out all of the latex paint and throw it in the trash after removing it from the can.


To do this, you have a few options. If there’s less than a fourth of the paint left, you can actually just leave the can open to the sun in a safe place removed from pets and kids and let it dry out before scooping it into the trash. If there’s more than a quarter left, however, it won’t all dry. You’ll need to either purchase a cheap hardening agent at a store, or you can mix the paint with gravel, kitty litter or shredded paper or newspaper and let it dry before scooping. You can also simply paint it on to the paper or newspaper, if you don’t want to deal with the scooping.

The Best Way to Get Rid of Paint, However…

…is to use it! Whether for retouching whatever was originally painted, adding a new coat or starting a new project that uses your old paint. Consider this before tossing it out, and remember, you might not think you need that old paint from your living room now, but if someone kicks a hole in the wall, you’ll sure wish you had it.

Another great idea is to ask around and see if anyone wants it. People love free stuff, and you never know who in your friends group or neighborhood might want just that shade for their project. Some local organizations like 4H also take paint on occasion, so ask around before tossing.

Paint is a wonderful, valuable thing, but the stuff in it that gives it its lovely properties can be dangerous to living things. Making sure you dispose of paint correctly is both smart and ethical, and it can even save you money. Pass this link on to anyone you know who is trying to get rid of paint, and together we can keep our families, homes and planet healthy a little longer.

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Birmingham, AL35216

Phone: 205-982-0420