Good Riddance to Unused Paint

No one wants to be a fool when it comes to disposing of hazardous household products, but it's also not the sort of task that takes precedence on the "to do" list. As we prepare for our upcoming move, we're faced with a plethora of neglected, half-used paint cans stacked and forgotten in a back closet. Like us, these orphans of past painting projects have to find a new home, but where?

After researching options for re-using, recycling and disposing of old paint, we came up with these "good" ways to rid ourselves of unused paint:

1. Donate usable paint to a church, school or your local Habitat for Humanity.
2. Participate in a materials exchange program like the one in LA County (we love this concept).
3. Dispose of latex paint in your garbage can, but follow the rules. The paint must be dried out and the lid must be removed before throwing away a paint can. Mostly empty cans can be left in the sun to dry and half empty cans can be dried out by mixing in kitty litter!
4. Recycle paint and dispose of aerosol paint cans at your local household hazardous waste center. We took a field trip to the Austin HHW facility and discovered that the process is actually very easy (educational too!)

Did you know that . . .?


  • Oil based paint is good for up to 15 years and latex is usable if it is less than 10 years old.

  • If paint mixes when stirred and has no lumps when painted on newspaper, it's good to go.

  • Usable latex paint is recycled into either white or beige only (a mix of every other color).

  • Spray paint cans are incinerated and empty paint cans are recycled at the HHW center, but you can't put paint cans in your curbside recycling bin.

What is your experience with recycling paint in your town? Do you have any other safe, smart ideas for getting rid of old paint?

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