Empty paint cans

How to correctly dispose or re-use your paint

Many of us have made mistakes when it comes to paint. You may have ordered too much, or perhaps dislike the colour now you have seen it on an entire wall. There is a lot of conflicting information out there and it can be difficult to know how to correctly dispose or re-use your paint.

Today, we are going to explain exactly what you can and can’t do.

If the paint is in good condition

wet paint

If your paint is in a perfectly usable condition there are a few things you can do before letting it go to waste.

  • Offer the paint to family or friends – they may be able to use it for all sorts of things.
  • Advertise it on social groups such as on Facebook. You will find DIY-ers and up-cyclers that may be able to use it.
  • Donate it to local communities or charities such as Global Paint For Charities.

If the paint is not in good condition

Paint is made up of a variety of ingredients, one of which being water. Paint actually has a use-by date and so once mixed, the paint will only be able to remain in that state for a certain period of time.

The more ‘liquid’ ingredients will slowly separate from the ‘firmer’ ones. You will even find this has begun even when it has arrived from the store! This is the reason you should shake or mix the paint thoroughly before use.

As soon as the can has been opened, the separation will kick into gear speeding up the process. You will find that even if you close the lid tightly and securely that over time it will still sadly separate. It will eventually get to a point where no matter how much you mix the paint it just simply will not blend together and so that paint cannot be used again.

So, with that being said, what are your options?

dry paint

Firstly, it will depend on what state the paint is in. If it is still wet but cannot be reused due to splitting etc. you will need to dry it out so that it is safe for disposal.

We hope it goes without saying but you must not pour paint down any drains. Paint is toxic to plant and aquatic life and is terrible for the environment.

If you have a lot of paint left (over half full) you can mix sawdust, sand or cat litter into it and then simply leave the lid off until it dries out. Alternatively, if you only have a small amount of paint, you can simply paint the excess onto a sheet of cardboard. Then, once it is dry, dispose of the cardboard.

If the paint appears to be dry in the tin, poke it with a paintbrush handle or stick to test and make sure it is completely dried up. If it is, there is nothing else you need to do and it is ready for disposal.

It varies from state to state so you will need to check, but most states allow for water-based paints to be disposed of in your usual household waste. However, the same cannot be said for oil-based paints. These types of paints contain harmful VOC and so will need to be disposed of via a HHT collection.

Due to the variation between states, you may also wish to check with the Environmental Protection Agency as to how best you should dispose of oil-based paints.

How do I purchase the correct amount of paint in the first place?

To help assist you, each of our product pages has a ‘How much do I need?’ calculator.

how much do I need calculator

All you need to know is the approximate width and height of the area in which you are painting and our handy calculator can do all the hard work for you!


We hope you found this post helpful. If you have any other tips or advice, please feel free to leave them in the comments below. We love hearing from you!

To keep up to date with our latest posts, why not follow us on social media? You can find us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram @OwatrolUSA

Owatrol Team
About Owatrol Team

Our team are ready and willing to support you with your requirements whether it is protecting your newly laid deck or renovating a luxury yacht, whatever the application Owatrol US has the solution you are looking for.

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