by Ravi Backerdan on July 19, 2022

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How to Dispose of Old Paints?

If you have done any remodelling or basic maintenance in your home, the chances are that you are likely to end up keeping the old paints because you don’t know how to dispose of them. The biggest concern with paints is that they can severely pollute surface water and groundwater if you don’t dispose of them properly. So let us find out how to dispose of old paints? 

There are basically two categories of paints:

  • Water-based paints: Includes Latex, Acrylic, Chalk, and Emulsion paints. 
  • Oil-based paints: Includes wood furnishes, Shellacs (uses resin as the main ingredient), Varnishes, Wood Protectors, and Preservative paints. 

Before you are ready to dispose of your old paints, you should always try to use your old paints in the best way possible. You can even try to recycle them if your area or region has the facility.

Some additional options before discarding the paints can involve considering 

  • Donation: Donating the paint to schools, churches, fellow community members who might need paint for small projects. 
  • Recycling: You can always send the leftover paint to companies that recycle old paints. The International Paint Recycling Association lists a few names of the companies that recycle old paints. Click the link above. 

Below is an example of Matthew 25 Ministries that accepts old paints if specific criteria are fulfilled. 

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Image Source: 

While Paint is an affordable option to add a touch of freshness to the interiors and exteriors of your house, disposing of them unconsciously can harm your environment. 

Is it not a better option to throw away old paints? 

Sadly, many people do take this approach. But it is highly recommended NOT TO THROW AWAY OLD PAINTS

You should NEVER toss old paints in the trash and expect them to dispose naturally. 

Inappropriate paint discarding is dangerous and unlawful. Some paints, which are similar to oil-based paints, are viewed as a waste unsafe for families. Unloading any paint down the water channel can cause lake or stream contamination. It can also mess up your pipes framework, especially if you have a septic tank. 

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Image Source: 

How to know which paint I have? 

The appropriate method to discard undesirable paint relies upon understanding the type of Paint. To determine which paint you have used, look at the Paint Can’s label. In case the name and label are not visible, do the following:

  • Step 1: Plunge a paintbrush into the Paint.
  • Step 2: Flush the brush in some water. 
  • Step 3: If the Paint falls, it is water-based, and if it doesn’t, it’s oil-based.

  • How to Dispose of Water-Based Paint? 

    For disposing of the water-based paints, the key is to make sure that the paint is dry. Water-based latex paints are the most utilized paints for projects because they are somewhat reasonable and exceptionally flexible. Since it's water-based, it dries rapidly, and tidying them up is easy. Fortunately, latex paints are not considered dangerous and can be discarded in the junk following a couple of rules.

    Option 1: Let the Paint Dry naturally 

    Water-based paints do not leave harmful fumes. Therefore, you can leave the can open and let the paint dry. Once it is dry, you can throw it in the garbage can. 

    Option 2: Doing it layer by layer 

    You can take an old cardboard and dump the water-based paint in a layer and once it is dry, put the new layer. 

    Option 3: Use a Hardener

    The easiest way is to use a hardener or kitty litter. You can buy the paint hardener from any hardware shop for really cheap. Paint hardeners are great at drying the old paint so that you can quickly dispose of it. 

    • Step1: Open the Paint Can.
    • Step 2: Add the paint hardener as per instructions.
    • Step 3: Leave until the paint dries.
    • Step 4: Leave the lid of the can open while throwing it in the trash.

    How to Dispose of Oil-Based Paint? 

    According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency(EPA), Americans discard 10 percent or 65 to 69 million gallons of the paint purchased each year.

    Oil-based paints are different from water-based paints, and you cannot dispose of them in the same way. In most places, oil-based paints are considered to be hazardous waste materials. They are risky because they contain synthetic substances that can sully soil and water. It would be best if you NEVER tossed oil-based paints in the trash directly or indirectly. In fact, in some states of the United States, it's unlawful to do so. 

    Look at the guidelines issued by The Department of Public Works, which mentions some ways in which the general public can contribute in ensuring safe discarding of leftover paints: 

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    Image Source- The Department of Public Works 

    Option 1: Using Paint Thinner 

    What do you need?

    • Spatula (to scrape the paint off) 
    • Spare bucket 
    • Latex gloves 
    • Disposable plastic bag (make sure there are no holes)

    What to Do?

    Step 1: Pour the thinner in the leftover oil-based paint in the spare bucket.

    Step 2: collect the residual paint sludge.

    Step 3: Take the disposable plastic bag and collect the sludge and pigment from the bottom of the can and pour it into the bag as much as you can. 

    Step 4: Take the loose thinner again and pour it back in the can. 

    Step 5: Seal the toxic residual in the disposable bag tightly. 

    Option 2: Hazardous Waste Recycling Plant 

    In most places, oil-based paints are considered hazardous materials, and therefore, you need to check rules and regulations for disposing of oil-based paints. 

    Some states in the United States have dedicated hazardous waste recycling plants to dispose of the old paints safely. Some jurisdictions might charge you a fee. 

    Now, if you are still confused about How to dispose of Old Paints, you can contact MGP’s team of professionals. We guarantee you quality and expertise - We are just a call away! Schedule a FREE estimate today! Call 845.290.5284 or click here.

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