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How To Properly Get Rid Of Old Paint

Lots of old items that we no longer need end up buried in a corner or closet – and taking up valuable space in our homes. Maybe you’ve forgotten about them, or just don’t know how to dispose of them properly. And one common culprit – half empty paint cans – may seem particularly challenging. So today, we’re teaching you how to properly get rid of old paint cans (and keep hazardous materials out of landfills). 

Dumping old paint cans in the trash might be tempting (and easy), but certain types of paint are considered hazardous and trashing them is a major no no. So where can you safely dispose of – or donate- that leftover latex or oil based paint?  We’re letting you know how to properly get rid of old paint cans (and how to know when it’s still useable).



To discover some of of our favorite shades, head over to 12 Of The Best Paint Colors (In Every Shade)5 Of The Best New Paint Colors (And Where To Use Them), and Finding The Right White: Bobby’s 5 Favorite White Paints.

Is My Old Paint Still Useable?

Curious whether that old can is still useable or should be disposed of? Latex paint has a shelf life of about 10 years when properly sealed and stored, while oil-based paint can last up to 15 years. But if you want to make sure it’s still good, just perform these simple tests:


    If the paint no longer smells like paint (and has a rancid odor), it’s definitely no longer useable.


    Paint typically separates over time, with a thin “skin” forming over the top. Using a paint stirrer, try mixing it up. If it’s not hard on the bottom and blends smoothly, it’s safe to use. You can also try brushing a bit on newspaper to check for any lumps that would indicate it’s no longer useable.

How To (Properly) Get Rid Of Old Paint

There are different procedures for disposing of different types of paint. Latex paint can usually be disposed of in the trash – but only when it has been hardened (check with you local refuse service to be sure they accept it). You can add cat litter or a paint hardener, allow it to set, and then toss them in the trash. But for oil-based paints (which contain hazardous materials) you’ll need to take different steps for disposal. Here are a few safe and easy options:





  • Global Paint For Charity is another organization that collects unwanted paint and redistributes it to those in need, both domestically and internationally. You can schedule a free pick up here.



  • Paintcare is a non profit that operates in 9 states, and accepts nearly al types of leftover paint (along with varnish, stain and clear coats). Since 2009, they’ve collected over 61 million gallons of paint!


  • Dispose of at your local Hazardous Waste Collection Site. You can drop of paint (along with other hazardous items) for free at your local site. Find your nearest site here.