How To Safely Store and Dispose of Paint

Yes, you can recycle leftover paint. 

Learn how to properly store leftover interior paint and how and where to safely dispose of any paint you no longer need.

You’ve painted a space you love, and we couldn’t be happier. There’s just one more thing to remember before you settle into your newly-revamped room: how to store the paint you may need for touch-ups down the road, and how to safely dispose of any leftover paint you no longer need.

Storing Extra Paint

Leftover paint can be kept and reused for quite a long time if stored properly. It’s best to store leftover paint in a cool, dark location free from moisture and extreme temperatures. Moisture can cause your paint can to rust, and extreme heat or cold can ruin your paint. So think twice if you were planning on storing your paint in your oven-hot Florida garage or your icy basement up in Chicago.

Before storing, cover the opening of the can with plastic wrap, and seal the lid tightly using a rubber mallet. Avoid using a hammer, which can leave dents in the can that may allow air to seep in and shorten the paint’s shelf life.

For ease of access later on, there’s a number of things you should mark on the outside of the paint can. Our paints come with a handy color name sticker. Where there's room, jot down how much paint is left inside, the date, and what room you painted.

Unopened paint has quite a long shelf life but it's optimal to use up your paint within two to three years. Opened cans that have been exposed to the air will have a shorter shelf life which can vary depending on conditions such as temperature and whether the lid was properly sealed. Plan on disposing of those after one to two years.

Learn how to properly store leftover interior paint and how and where to safely dispose of any paint you no longer need.

Recycling Extra Paint

We always recommend recycling leftover paint since it can be used to make new water-based paints or mixed together for reuse in community projects like graffiti removal.

If you live in one of the the 9 states with PaintCare, an organization that manages local paint recycling programs, take leftover paint to a drop-off site, where it is sorted for reuse, recycling, energy recovery, or safe disposal.

For those living in non-PaintCare states, you can donate unused and unopened water-based paint at a Habitat for Humanity ReStore, which sells gently-used and discounted furniture, appliances and building materials, like paint, from Habitat projects across the country.

You can also drop off leftover paint at household hazardous waste collection sites and events nationwide. Household paint is NOT considered hazardous waste, but lots of hazardous waste sites will take it off your hands and ensure proper disposal. Find a list of sites by inputting your zip code in this recycling search tool from Earth911.

Learn how to properly store leftover interior paint and how and where to safely dispose of any paint you no longer need.

Safe Disposal of Extra Paint

Latex paint such as ours can be thrown into the trash only after it has been fully dried out. If you have a small amount of paint left in your can, remove the lid and allow it to dry out and solidify, then you can toss it in with your regular household trash.

If you have a larger amount of paint to dispose of, our favorite hack is kitty litter which helps dry your paint out faster. Stir in equal parts kitty litter into your paint can (or a larger, leakproof container if needed) until it starts to thicken. Then let it sit until it's fully dried out, usually about 24 hours. Once it's dry, you can throw the dried paint bits in the garbage.

Remember, when getting rid of paint, never pour leftovers down the drain or into the ground.

Check your local regulations and visit these sites for more helpful resources on paint recycling:

Need to give your walls a touch up? Read: The Right Way to Touch Up Paint


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