Proper Paint Disposal

 In Real Estate Articles

You just finished freshening the paint in your home, and you have left over paint that you didn’t use. Most people will just pile the cans on a shelf, thinking they might use the paint in the future for touch ups or another project. If you do find a use for the leftovers, good for you! However, many of us will still be harboring those sour cans of paint a decade later! So, in the interest of cutting clutter and safe disposal of the paint, here are some tips to help.

Note: Paint pollutes the environment, so hopefully everyone is already aware that we should NOT pour paint down the drains.

Is the paint bad?

Paint that is older than 10 years old has likely become a little over ripe. According to paint experts, latex paints generally last about 10 years, but oil-based paints may still be viable after 15 years. If you want your left over paint to last, store it an a cool dry space, and make sure the can is completely sealed. Heat and air will make it go bad faster.

Once you open that decade old can of paint, there will be a few clues as to whether or not it is still good.

  • Does it smell? A more pungent odor may be a good clue that the paint is ready for disposal.
  • Has it hardened? Paint that has hardened on the sides or bottom of the can are likely no longer any good.
  • Does it look rough or peels right away? You can test a small amount on piece of scrap material. If it doesn’t paint on smoothly or if it just peels right off, then you won’t be able to use it.
  • Does it look rubbery? Oil-based products such as varnishes, may look rubbery or become very thick as they age.

Paint disposal

If all that’s left is a bit in the bottom of the can, you should simply just let the paint dry out. Take the lid off and set it in the sun for a couple hours to let it dry out. Just keep out of reach of kids and pets. Once it’s completely dried out, you can dispose of it in the trash.

Unfortunately, letting it dry out doesn’t work so well if you have half a can left…it won’t really dry out very efficiently to allow disposal. Latex paints can be taken to a recycling center or hazardous waste disposal center, where it will be disposed of properly. You can also try adding a paint hardener or cat litter to the paint to dry it out.

We all know that custom tinted paints can’t be returned. If you have a full can of fresh paint that hasn’t been opened, some local non-profits may welcome the donation. HabitReStore will sell it to benefit Habitat for Humanity projects, and other non-profits may use leftover paint to spruce up their own digs. It can’t hurt to make a phone call to find out what they will take.

Protecting groundwater and wildlife means keeping harsh chemicals out of landfills and the water supply. Use care when disposing of your paint. It’s worth the extra effort to dispose of it properly.

Let my team at Keystone Realtors® meet all your real estate needs. Paul Phangureh has over 16 years of experience in buying and selling in the Santa Clara and San Mateo County areas, specializing in the high-end, luxury market, as well as commercial and multi-use real estate. We can help you navigate the process of getting started with real estate investment. Visit our website at for listings and information. You can contact Paul at 650-924-2544, or email at [email protected].