Discarding old paint

I have maybe 20 or 30 gallons of half filled paint cans, left over from the last house (where the realtor told us we had to make everything ‘neutral’ to sell it) and from this house where we had to do a repaint to make it habitable for us.

The old house paint is of no use to the people we sold to because those colors are all covered now, and, well. Lots of half filled paint cans.

I know the “cat litter” thing, but does anyone have a faster, easier way to dispose of old paint that’s environmentally OK and doesn’t involve buying yet another product for the sole purpose of throwing it away? I’d really like to reclaim some workshop space here…l

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Not faster, necessarily, but for water based paint we just leave the lid off the can until it dries up, then put the open can in the trash. Alternatively, list it for free on Nextdoor.com or some other local site, where landlords may be happy to take the cans off your hands for free. We have had great success with mixing colors of a similar type paint to get enough volume to use, or adding white/black to change the shade of the color, depending on what we are trying to do with it.

At $40+/gallon, paint is bloody expensive. If you have a significant amount, I would be amazed that a Mom and Pop landlord wouldn’t want to take it off your hands. Your small amount in a can could also be enough for a single wall featured color, if it’s a dramatic color.

Some municipalities actually welcome cans of paint for re-blending.



Our local County ‘Dumps’, has a setup on every Friday for residential homeowners to drop off paint and other hazardous materials, I took many half used paint cans, old Propane tanks to them last year, half of my PU bed, glad to clear it out… So check with your local landfill, disposal company, maybe County… They recycle, save what they can, but some paints do go bad, really smell bad when they do, SIL had to do a sealing coat over what turned out to be spoiled paint he’d used in a bedroom… Stunk up the whole house…

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I dealt with the same issue a month ago.

I took all the lids off and left them outside, but covered from the rain. Pour fuller cans into emptier cans to get most of the cans under 1/4 full. After a month, most of them dried hard. My trash allows for dried latex paint to be disposed with the normal trash. I added kitty litter to the handful of cans that would not dry on their own.


Connecticut has laws about paint disposal, and for latex there are drop off sites at places like hardware and paint stores.

Which almost certainly doesn’t do anyone else here any good at all.

While I did have one han where the lid was loose and it dried, I still took it with he rest to the hazmat recycle event, but some were old oil based paints, one gallon of red primer for metal, another of silver, also oil based, brought home from some jobsite or other in my wanderings of hilltops doing cell site work… Downtime waiting on remote test results I’d wander around gathering galvanized, SS nuts bolts, left behind by tower builders, gave a half full 5 gallon bucket to my commercial fisherman brother to pass along to other boat owners, builders… Bit there were old paint and such on some sites, so packrat me would drag it home, ‘might need it someday’!

That our local landfill site takes so much of it works out pretty well… I now have a limited amount of paints, all listed by brand and code numbers in a spreadsheet it seems I should have more space, but other stuff seems to fill in right away.

I tried, years ago to pour old latex int an inverted Rubbermaid thrash can lid, eventually it dried, but stuck really well to the lid, eventually most of it could be peeled off, but I guess I should have pre-sprayed that lid with Pam or something… So I stopped that, waited until I heard about the Friday drop off times… A lot of old rattle-can, spray paints, went in that day, too…

Ask your local school art departments if they want it?
I donated 15 or 20 similar cans to a local university art department.
Their comment was “students always need supplies”.


Lol lol lol lol (trying for mandated 20 characters)

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Cool (trying for mandated 20 characters).


My city asks us to let water based paints dry, then put them in the garbage. However, I do laugh at their suggestion - to pour it out over some old newspapers to let it dry. If you have a lot of half full cans, you could pour the paint into just a few cans, then leave small amounts to dry in the mostly empty cans. Once dry, put a bit more paint in for further drying. Repeat until done. With thin layers, it should dry pretty quickly. You’d end up with cans full of dried paint.

Oil based paints can go to the hazardous waste center - which for me, being in a highly populated area, is open 6 days a week. You probably aren’t so lucky.


We went through this paint letting routine a couple of months ago and loaded up the back of the car with gallon cans, pint sized cans and smaller cans of various paints and headed to the recycling place for drop-off. Little did we know most of the small cans were not acceptable. Varnish or something as I really don’t remember. Luckily they knew how to separate them. Moral of the story ‘go the the recycling place on Hwy 69 let them do the sorting and get them to give you directions to the recycling place on Hwy 288 so you can drop off the remainder of the paint’.



Well, that works for someplace, ours is off of Hwy 116 a couple miles on Meacham Road, so it’s a few miles, maybe 6 or 7, out of town… :slight_smile:

I’m guessing one location is headed to downtown Houston and the other location is headed away from the Astrodome or NRG Stadium down 288 to Pearland. I’m guessing the two locations are separated by 10-15 miles. Who knows?

I vote for this as the first choice. Or something like freecycle.com Best if someone gets to use it for a real project, some crafting or even graffiti coverup than to just let it dry out and dispose of it.


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I’m definitely trying inparadise’s suggestion first. Highest and best use would be - to have someone use them. I have some that are nearly full gallons, good for a whole room. Some have just a remainder, maybe enough for a single wall. After that I’ll see what’s left and deal with it along the lines of the other suggestions in the thread. Very helpful; thank you all.

Except for the guy who said “drive to Houston”, which is, um, many many tankfuls of gasoline away, which sort of gets in the way of that “environmental” thing.


Fort Worth or Dallas should have sites that take hazardous materials.

Regards, JAFO