• Jalal Lewis

Proper Storage and Disposal of Unused Paints

Why is it important to safely dispose of or store unused or leftover paints? Paints can turn to be toxic and dangerous to the environment if they are not properly disposed of or stored. The majority of paints are composed of solvent, pigment, resin, and additives. Resin is the main ingredient and forms a coating or film in the surface being painted. It is a non-hazardous component that consists of acrylic, linseed, or other synthetic resin. Solvent keeps the paint in a liquid form until the solvent evaporates after the paint is applied. The solvent in oil-based paint comes from petroleum distillate and may include dangerous ingredients like mineral spirits, toluene, and xylene. Pigments give color and opacity, the prime pigments currently used are titanium oxide, iron oxide, calcium sulfate, silicates, or clay which are non-toxic pigments. Several high-colored pigments may contain heavy metals like arsenic, chromium, or cadmium.


1. Paint should be stored with very little air in the can

2. Clean the rim of the lid of your paint can to ensure that the lid will go back on tightly.

3. Place a layer of the plastic rim between the can and the lid

4. Use a rubber mallet when closing the can

5. Store the can upside down. This helps with the amount of air in the can by allowing the paint to create a seal against the lid.

6. It is important that paint is stored away from sunlight and in areas that will not get below freezing.

7. A basement is an ideal place. If you do not have a basement, a closet or a small storage unit will work fine.

8. Be sure paints are out of reach by children.


How to Safely Dispose of Oil-Based Paint

1. You must always check with your local authorities on how to dispose of oil-based leftover paints.

2. Bring it to your city or county's household hazardous waste facility.

3. You can also find a place to drop off your leftover paints through the Painter Care Site.

PaintCare Inc., a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, represents paint manufacturers (paint producers) to plan and operate paint stewardship programs in U.S. states and jurisdictions that pass paint stewardship laws. They encourage homeowners and businesses to to take their unwanted, leftover paint to a PaintCare drop-off site. Most locations are paint retailers, which are convenient locations open year-round and seven days a week.

How to Safely Dispose of Latex-Based Paint

1. Remove the lid and recycle or discard it accordingly.

2. Let the remaining paint dry out thoroughly before putting the can in the trash. Mixing cat litter into the paint can help it dry quicker.

3. Most municipalities do not have a problem with this however make sure to check with your local sanitation department that they accept dried, latex paint cans.

Shelf Life

Recycling is one of the best method to reduce expenses for your next home painting project however you need to ensure that you're leftover paint hasn't gone bad while in the storage. Latex or water-based paints have a life span of 10 years while solvent or oil-based paints can last for up to 15 years. When properly sealed in the container and it has not been exposed to extreme temperatures, oil-based paints have the longest shelf life. Before using, remove the top layer of the film and stir thoroughly.

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