Old Paint Disposal: The Complete How-To Guide

couple painting and they are happy

Wondering what to do with all that old paint? Use these tips to determine when it's time to throw it out and how to dispose of paint properly.

A fresh coat of paint is an easy, inexpensive way to transform a room. But if you are like us, you know that buying just the right amount of paint for the job can be tricky. If you’re like most DIYers, you probably have a growing collection of partially used paint cans gathering dust in your garage.

Those paint cans might have sat there for years. But this year, you are determined to clean out the garage. You are wondering what you are going to do with all that paint. Getting rid of old paint isn’t difficult.

Keep reading to learn how to dispose of paint properly.

Should I Dispose of My Old Paint?

That’s the first question you should ask, because you might not need to get rid of it.

The good news is that paint lasts a long time when it's properly stored indoors, away from temperature extremes, and with the lid securely in place. In fact, latex paint can last up to 10 years when stored properly, and oil-base (or alkyd) paint can remain usable for up to 15 years.

Before you get rid of old paint, pop the lid and take a whiff. If it just smells like paint, it's likely still usable. If it smells rotten, then it's best to dispose of the paint. Another way to tell if the paint is still usable is to check whether there are dried chunks or layers at the bottom or on the sides of the can. Remove any skin that formed on the top and give the paint a stir. Brush out a sample onto a scrap piece of cardboard and see if the color's right and glides on smoothly.

If everything looks (and smells) good, then consider donating the paint to an organization that can use it or resell it.

Some options include:

  • Schools
  • Community theaters
  • Shelters
  • Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

Always call ahead and check to make sure it's needed before dropping it off.

If you have large quantities of usable paint, consider posting on sites like Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist to see if someone in your community is interested.

There are tons of creative ways to use leftover paint for new projects that you might want to consider, too.

Can You Throw Away Paint?

Let’s get the obvious question out of the way first. Whether you can throw away paint depends on the type you’re getting rid of.

Oil-based paint contains chemicals that contaminate soil and water. You can never throw it in the trash, and it’s illegal to do so in most states. Latex paint isn’t hazardous. You can throw it away if you follow a few guidelines.

How Can You Dispose of Latex Paint?

Latex paint is water-based and can be disposed of in a more environmentally-friendly way than oil-based paint. Before disposing of paint, it's important to check the label for instructions. You should never pour paint down the drain.

Can you throw latex paint away?

But yes, you can throw away latex paint, but make sure to do it properly.

Follow these three easy steps to safely get rid of latex paint:

(1) Remove the lid and toss it.

(2) Dispose of the can separately.

  • If you’re planning to throw the paint can away, let the remaining paint dry out first.
  • To accelerate the drying process, mix the paint with an absorbent material, such as cat litter or sawdust, until it reaches a solid consistency.mix cat litter into the paint.

(3) Put it in the trash and place it out by the curb.

After the patin has dried, toss the box in your trash can.

If you're disposing of latex paint and want to go the curbside route, make sure your municipality accepts it. Local regulations vary from city to city, and yours may prohibit old paint disposal.

Planning to recycle your old paint? Recycling rules also vary, so double-check those as well.

How Can You Safely Dispose of Oil-Based Paint?

Oil-based paint is considered hazardous waste and should not be thrown in the trash.

While you can’t throw it away, there are several ways to dispose of oil-based paint safely. Consider these three simple options:

Take the oil-based paint to your city or county’s hazardous waste facility.

If you live in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Minnesota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont or Washington D.C., check out PaintCare.Org to find take-back programs near you.

Outside of these states, you should contact your local government or waste management company to find out the proper disposal methods in your area.

Some communities may offer hazardous waste collection events where you can properly dispose of oil-based paint.

If you live in Denton County, here is how the City of Denton says to dispose of paint:

Please drop off or schedule a curbside collection for any household hazardous waste.

The Home Chemical Collection facility is located at 1527 S. Mayhill Rd. Building #300 Denton, TX 76208 and will be open for in-person disposal starting June 14, 2021.

You can schedule a curbside collection by calling Customer Service at (940) 349-8700 or through the Engage Denton App. Some fees may apply.

In the City of Denton, Texas, residents can find more information on paint disposal and other recycling programs by visiting the city's website. Here, residents can learn about curbside pickup options, hazardous waste drop-off events, and other resources for properly disposing of paint and other household materials.

It's important to note that regulations and disposal methods for paint may vary depending on the location, so it's always best to check with your local government or waste management company for the most up-to-date information and instructions. By following these guidelines, you can safely and responsibly dispose of your old paint and keep your home and community clean and healthy.

Can You Donate Old Paint?

Maybe you don’t want to store your old paint, but it is still good for someone else to use. Donating old paint is a great way to repurpose it and give it a second life.

However, before you donate, it's important to check the condition of the paint to ensure it's still usable. If the paint is still in good condition, it can be donated to organizations such as Habitat for Humanity or local schools or community centers.

These organizations may use the paint for home renovation projects, community beautification projects, or theater productions.

Before you donate, check with the organization to see if they accept paint donations and what their specific requirements are.

Some organizations may only accept certain types of paint or certain quantities.

It's also important to note that if the paint is no longer usable, it should be disposed of properly, rather than donated.

What Should I Do After Disposing of Old Paint?

Once the paint has been disposed of properly, it's important to properly clean and store any paint-related equipment, such as brushes or rollers. This will ensure that they are in good condition for your next painting project.

It's also a good idea to keep a record of the paint that you have disposed of, such as the type and amount. This will make it easier to reference in the future and ensure you have a clear understanding of what you have on hand.


Getting rid of old paint doesn't have to be a headache. By following these guidelines on how to properly dispose of paint, you can safely and responsibly get rid of any extra or expired paint.

Remember to always check with your local government or waste management company for specific regulations and guidelines.

And, if you have usable paint, consider donating it to organizations that can put it to good use.

Reserve Your Dumpster Today

Related Posts

View All

Save Big on your Next Commercial Cleanout with a Dumpster Rental

Unlock the secret to slashing your commercial clean out costs with our game-changing dumpster rental tips
Read more

Why Dumpster Rental is the Smart Choice for Your Office Relocation

Unlock the secret to a smooth office relocation with our guide on the unbeatable benefits of choosing dumpster rental for efficient waste management
Read more

Cut Costs on Home Renovation with an Affordable Dumpster Rental

Learn cost-cutting strategies for home renovations with our guide on securing affordable dumpster rentals, a must-read for budget-conscious real estate investors.
Read more