Disposal and Storage of Paint

Responsible Storage And Disposal of Paint

Do you have unused or old paint that you wish to store or dispose but not sure how to?

There are responsible and safe guidelines on how to store or dispose the paint, depending on the type.

Disposal of Water-Based Paint

Latex, acrylic or water-based paints must not be disposed of in liquid form. Do not:

  • pour the paint into drains, onto the ground, or into sinks
  • put cans of liquid paint out for regular trash pick-up
  • try to burn paint

Disposing of paint this way introduces contaminants into the air, soil and ground water that can eventually work their way into the food chain.

To dry out paint that is less than 1/4 full

  • Remove the lid.
  • Allow to dry completely in a well-ventilated area away from children, pets and direct heat.
  • Paint will dry in a few days.
  • Dispose of the solid matter in the regular trash.

To dry out paint that is  more than 1/4 full

  • Brush or roll the paint onto layers of newspapers or cardboard.
  • When the paint dries, put the paper in the trash bin.
  • Alternatively, you can pour the paint into a cardboard box and mix it with shredded newspaper, cat litter, or a commercial paint hardener to speed solidification.
  • The box can go in the trash when the paint dries and the cans can be recycled.

Note: All residual/leftover latex, acrylic and water-based paint must be hardened or dried.

Disposal of Aerosal Spray Cans

Aerosol containers or spray cans are pressurized products that can also start a fire or injure sanitation workers if you dispose of them in the trash where they can be punctured and explode.


An empty spray can is safe for disposal if you no longer hear air being released from the container. If you cannot empty the aerosol cans by using the contents yourself, find someone who can.

Start by working in a well-ventilated area away from children, pets, and sources of ignition. Follow safety precautions on the container and avoid inhaling vapors.

Spray the contents of the container into a cardboard box until you can no longer hear the air being released from the can. When the container is empty and depressurized, put the cardboard box in the trash. Empty containers can be recycled.

Storing Leftover Paints

  1. Clean any dried or moist paint from the threads of the can and lid.
  2. Cover the opening of the can with plastic wrap or wax paper for oil-based paints. The wrap seals the can and makes it easier to remove the film that forms after it has been sitting around for a while.
  3. Fit the lid securely on the can and gently tap it with a hammer until it is completely sealed.
  4. Turn the paint can upside down. The paint will naturally form a skin to help seal the paint and keep it fresh.
  5. Paint is flammable. Store in a climate-controlled area away from heat sources. Cans exposed to extreme heat can expand causing the paint to leak.