You buy a new house and there is old/leftover paint from the prior owner. You decided to repaint your home and now you have old/leftover paint. I get this question all of the time, “How do I properly dispose of old/leftover paint?” Since the EPA regulations were passed in April of 2010 paint disposal became more difficult than prior. There were many drop off sites where you could dispose of your old paint cans locally. Depending on the town you lived in they would provide an annual paint pick up from the recycling center.
Please keep in mind latex paint has a shelf life of 10 years and oil-based paint has a shelf life of 15 years. That is as long as the paint has been stored is a temperature controlled room. If the paint is left outside and freezes then thaws back to liquid form it’s garbage.
There are three options of how to dispose of your old/leftover paint cans:
A. Donate: there are some organizations that would be happy to use your leftover paint if it’s still in liquid form and can be used. Below are two links that you can check out for donation of your old paint.
a. Habitat for Humanities for Restores: https://habitatillinois.org/illinois-restores/
b. Trash Nothing: https://trashnothing.com/
B. Disposal location: below are links of two companies that accept old paint for recycling.
a. Paint Care: https://www.paintcare.org/
b. Earth 911: https://search.earth911.com/
c. Big box stores: Home Depot, Lowe’s and Menard’s. Depending on where you live, some locations have drop off sites for old/leftover paint.
C. Dispose of old/leftover paint yourself. Most towns will allow you dispose of your old paint in your garbage as long as it’s not in liquid form. Contact your local garbage or recycling centers for more information. There are two options to dry out your old/leftover paint for city pickup.
a. DIY: If there is 1/2 or less of paint in the can remove the lid and let the paint dry out itself. This will take between 2-5 days depending on how much paint is in the can.
b. Paint hardener: Your local paint or hardware store along with the big box stores carry paint hardener. One bag of paint hardener will dry up 1/2-3/4 gallon of paint. Apply the paint hardener to the paint, mix thoroughly and let sit for the day (12-24 hours). Below is a link for multiple types of paint hardener:
All of the above options are good ideas of how to dispose of your old/leftover paint without harming the environment. Hopefully you find all of the above information helpful and can now finally get rid of that old paint.