It’s almost impossible buy the exact amount of paint necessary for a paint job. And what ends up happening is you have a half-bucket of paint sitting in your closet for months on end. But what do you do when you’ve had enough of it? In this article, we answer this question. We’re telling you how to dispose of your old paint safely and effectively.
How to Notice When Paint Has Gone Bad
Before you dispose of your paint, you need to be sure that it’s actually gone bad. No sense disposing of perfectly useable paint. And if you can’t use it yourself, maybe give it to someone who can!
Either way, you need to know how you can tell if your paint is good to go.
Firstly, paint generally takes quite a long time to go bad. If it’s sealed and stored properly, it should last you a couple years at the very least, and often much longer than that. Past this point, you might have bad paint on your hands.
There are generally a few warning signs that your paint may have gone bad. These range from obvious to subtle. Be on the lookout for these warning signs:
- Mold: If your paint has visible mold, then it has definitely gone bad! You’ll notice the mold on the surface of the paint, and it’s often accompanied by a musty smell.
- Inconsistent Texture: If you paint no longer looks smooth and consistent, then it may have gone bad. For example, old paint might develop “chunks”. But don’t throw it out just yet! Sometimes all it needs is a good stir. But if you try and nothing works, then it may be beyond saving.
- Rust: Sometimes, the problem isn’t the paint itself. Rather, the rust from the can. If the can has begun to rust, and the rust has seeped into the paint, then the paint is no longer useable.
- Dry: If the paint has dried out, it will lack the consistency to properly coat a wall. Needless to say, you can’t paint with it!
How to Dispose of Paint
So, you’ve examined your paint, and decided it’s no longer useable. What are your options? You can’t just throw it in the trash, and you definitely can’t pour it down the sink, so what’s next?
There are actually a few things you can do to dispose of paint. Some of these options may depend on your location. Consider the following options to dispose of old paint:
- Dry it Out: Depending on your local regulations, and especially if your region doesn’t offer a service for disposing of hazardous household products, it may be legal to throw away paint with the trash. To do so properly, attempt to dry out the paint first. Put it in shallow trays, and leave it in the sun for a while. Some also mix it with an absorbent substance like sawdust. This makes it a proper consistency for putting in the garbage.
Now, it goes without saying that this far from the “greenest” option for disposing of paint. But if there are no options in your area for paint recycling, then you might not have a choice.
- Recycling Program: Your municipality may offer a hazardous household product recycling program that offers safe paint disposal services. Do a Google search of your area to see what’s near you.
In addition to recycling, some companies also accept donations of old paint (see list below). Although these companies will often only accept paint that is still somewhat useable (as they intend to reuse it themselves). Check to see if a paint recycling service is in your area.
- Reuse It: You know the old saying “reduce, reuse, recycle”. So why not try to get creative and reuse your old paint? It might be too far gone to paint your walls, but it might still come in handy for a DIY art project. It might also do the trick if you’re just looking to do small touch-ups to your existing paint job.
Paintcare, a program dedicated to informing people of where and how to safely dispose of their paint, makes it easy to recycle leftover, unwanted paint. They operate paint stewardship programs on behalf of paint manufacturers in states that have passed paint stewardship laws.
The current states are Washington, Oregon, California, Colorado, Minnesota, New York, Vermont, Connecticut, Maine, and the District of Columbia. Although there are hundreds of retailers that offer recycling and donation programs, a few of the popular ones are Benjamin Moore, Behr, C&M Coatings, Rudd Company, Sherwin-Williams, and Timber Pro Coatings. You can find a full list of states and retailers on their website.
Thanks for checking out our guide to paint disposal! Remember, with proper storage, paint can last a very long time. Only consider disposing of paint as a last resort. We are lucky to have so many options at our disposal!