How to get rid of old paint, the easy way and the hard way

As a hobby painter I seem to collect new paint for every diy project and  have accumulated a lot of leftover and unusable paint.  We never get just the right amount of paint.  There is always extra and it’s not something you can throw away.  Even if you use a rubber mallet to seal the paint can after use and store it in a dry place, it just doesn’t seem to last very long.      

I recently came across a video about how to dry up leftover latex paint (water-based paint).  The good news is there are lots of  ways to harden a water-based type of paint so that you can throw it in your regular trash safely.  I’ve listed those methods below if you prefer putting paint into your household trash.    

My problem being a landlord is that I have SOOO much unused paint that I don’t want to take the time to treat all of it so that I can throw it away.  I’m too lazy for that.  In addition, drying methods don’t work for aerosol cans of spray paint.  I want to take my remaining paint somewhere rather than taking extra steps for the drying process. 

how to get rid of old paint

Instead, I like to take my excess paint somewhere for paint disposal.  In most cases this will be a site that accepts hazardous materials and household chemicals.  There are several options for this.  The best way to deal with cans of paint is to take them to a local paint store.  Most of them, including Sherwin Williams (and other paint manufacturers), accept cans of paint. They must not be leaking, be in the original container and have the original label. They accept all types of paint, including oil-based paint.

If your paint is rusted or it’s missing a label you still have options.  

In Dallas there’s a governmental place where I can dispose of paint, both oil-based paint and leftover latex paint.  There are hazardous waste collection programs like this in most major metro areas.  Locations for the top 25 metro areas in the United States are listed below.  It’s a good idea to check the links in the table below to determine the local regulations in your area.  At my location, you weren’t even allowed to get out of your car and a driver’s license was required to prove you have a dallas zip code.  

CityFacility NameWhat they acceptPhysical Address
New York City, NYNYC Department of Sanitation’s (DSNY) Special Waste Drop-off Siteslatex paint, tires, motor oil, electronicsSouth Side White Containers, 30th Ave Between 120th &, 122nd St, Queens, NY 11354
Los Angeles, CALos Angeles County’s Household Hazardous Waste Collection Programpaint, electronics, batteries, motor oil, pharmaceuticalsthere are 7 locations in the LA area
Chicago, ILChicago Department of Public Health’s Household Chemicals and Computer Recycling Facilitycleaners, oil-based paints, solvents, cell phones, fluorescent bulbs, computers1150 N North Branch St, Chicago, IL 60642
Dallas-Fort Worth, TXCity of Dallas’s Home Chemical Collection Center paint, pool chemicals, batteries, fluorescent bulbs11234 Plano Road, Dallas, TX 75243
Houston, TXCity of Houston’s Environmental Service Centers
paint, electronics, pool chemicals, household chemicals, fluorescent bulbs, cooking oil, motor oil, batteries, transmission fluid, tiresESC South
11500 S. Post Oak Rd.,  Houston, TX 77035

ESC North
5614 Neches St  Houston, TX 77026
Washington, D.C.-Northern VAFairfax County’s Household Hazardous Waste Program or the District’s Department of Public Workspaint, automotive fluids, batteries, pesticides, poisons, pool chemicalsI-66 Transfer Station
4618 West Ox Road
Miami, FLMiami-Dade County’s Home Chemical Collection Centersoil based paint and latex paint in liquid form, computers, cell phones, printers, unbroken fluorescent bulbs, propane tanks, oxygen tanksWest Dade
8801 NW 58 Street, Doral, FL. 33178

South Dade
23707 SW 97th Ave, Homestead, FL. 33032
Philadelphia, PACity of Philadelphia’s Streets Department’s Hazardous Waste Eventslatex and water based paint, spray paint, batteries, fluorescent bulbs, gasoline, herbicides, insecticides, pool chemicalsdrop off events at varied locations
Atlanta, GAKeep Atlanta Beautiful Commission’s recycling centerspaint, cell phones, pool chemicals, household cleaners1110 Hill St SE
Atlanta, GA 30315
Phoenix, AZMaricopa County’s Household Hazardous Waste Programpaint, flammable liquids, automotive waste, household cleaning products, computer scraps, batteries2844 W Broadway Rd, Phoenix AZ 85041
Boston, MAMassachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s Hazardous Waste Collection Eventspaints, stains, varnishes, and thinners that are in original containersEvents on Saturdays
San Francisco, CASan Francisco’s Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facilitybatteries, cooking oil, medication, paint501 Tunnel Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94134
Riverside-San Bernardino, CARiverside County’s Household Hazardous Waste Collection
San Bernardino Household Hazardous Waste
paint, electronic waste, pool chlorine, fluorescent bulbs, pesticidesCounty Road Yard
25315 Jefferson Avenue
Murrieta, CA 92562

Lamb Canyon Landfill
16411 Lamb Canyon Road
Beaumont, CA 92223

Badlands Landfill
31125 Ironwood Avenue
Moreno Valley, CA 92555

Apple Valley HHW Facility
13450 Nomwaket Road
Apple Valley, CA, 92307

City Of Barstow Corporation Yard
900 South Avenue ‘H’
Barstow, CA 92311

Public Service Yard
42040 Garstin Drive
Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
Detroit, MIDetroit Department of Public Works’ Household Hazardous Waste Drop-off Locationspaint, batteries, fluorescent bulbs, computer monitors, cell phones, gasoline, microwave, laptop, printer2000 E. Ferry Street (near I-75 and I-94)
Seattle, WAKing County’s Hazardous Waste Disposal Sitesoil based paint, fire extinguishers, fertilizer, swimming pool chemicals, weed killer, automotive fluids and oils, fluorescent bulbsNorth Seattle
12550 Stone Ave N Seattle, WA 98133

South Seattle
8100 2nd Ave S Seattle, WA 98108
Minneapolis-St. Paul, MNHennepin County’s Hazardous Waste Collection Sites
Ramsey County Household Hazardous Waste

paint, pesticides, automotive fluids, cleaning products, drain cleanerBloomington
1400 West 96th Street, Bloomington, MN 55431

Brooklyn Park
8100 Jefferson Highway, Brooklyn Park, MN 55445

5 Empire Drive St. Paul, MN
San Diego, CACity of San Diego’s Environmental Services Department’s Household Hazardous Waste Programpaint, motor oil and oil filters, propane gas cylindersMiramar Landfill entrance (5161 Convoy Street, 92111, north of State Route 52).
Tampa-St. Petersburg, FLPinellas County’s Household Electronics & Chemical Collection Center
Hillsborough County’s Household Hazardous Waste Collection Program
automotive products, paint, household chemicals, batteries, pool and spa products, lawn and garden chemicals
2877 109th Avenue N. St. Petersburg, FL

9805 Sheldon Road
Tampa, FL 33635

13000 U.S. Highway 41
Gibsonton, FL 33534

6209 County Road 579
Seffner, FL 33584
Denver, COCity and County of Denver’s Household Hazardous Waste Collection Programoil based paint, latex paint, spray paint, automotive fluids, fluorescent bulbs, auto batteriescall 1-800-449-7587 for pickup
Baltimore, MDBaltimore City Department of Public Works’ Household Hazardous Waste Collection Programoil based paint, automotive fluids, batteries, fluorescent bulbs, household cleaning productsNorthwest Convenience Center
2840 Sisson St.
Baltimore, MD 21211
St. Louis, MOCity of St. Louis’s Household Hazardous Waste Programoil based paint, craft and hobby paint, pesticides, automotive fluids, batteriesSouth HHW Facility
291 E. Hoffmeister
St Louis MO 63125

North HHW Facility
4100 Seven Hills Dr. 
Florissant, MO 63033
Orlando, FLOrange County’s Household Hazardous Waste Program
Seminole County’s Household Hazardous Waste and Electronics Recycling Program
televisions, tablets, cell phones, paint, oil, batteries, pesticides, pool chemicals5901 Young Pine Road Orlando, FL 32829

1326 Good Homes Road
Orlando, FL 32818

1950 State Road 419
Longwood, FL 32750
Charlotte, NCMecklenburg County’s Full Service Recycling Centersbatteries, computer equipment, automotive fluids, paint, lawn mowers, appliances, mattresses, household hazardous waste140 Valleydale Road Charlotte, NC 28214

17131 Lancaster Hwy, Charlotte, NC 28277

8007 Pence Rd., Charlotte NC 28215

12300 Statesville Rd, Huntersville, NC 28078
Portland, ORMetro’s Household Hazardous Waste Collection Eventspaint, batteries, electronics, motor oil2001 Washington St, Oregon City, OR 97045

6161 NW 61st Ave, Portland, OR 97210
San Antonio, TXCity of San Antonio’s Household Hazardous Waste Disposal Sitespaint, pool chemicals, batteries, fluorescent bulbs7030 Culebra Road
San Antonio, TX 78238

If you prefer the option of hardening your paint at home try one of these with your old paint cans. In most cases, these work best with small amounts of paint (I have too much paint for this).

  1. Add kitty litter to the paint and stir until it is solid.  This is the most effective method and kitty litter is a very absorbent material. 
  2. Add plaster of Paris into your paint and mix
  3. Add sawdust to the can of paint and stir
  4. Pour paint onto shredded newspaper
  5. If you have small amount of paint, less than an inch, let the can sit open.  This works best in extreme heat.  

The video I watched (linked here) tested all of these methods and the cat litter was the most effective.

If you prefer to find a project that use up all of your old paint, check out these DIY beginner painting projects, how to get rid of paint fumes and what to do with leftover paint.

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One Comment

  1. Such a great post. Will share on Saturday Meanderings. I, like you, have way too many cans of paint. This has inspired me to get rid of them. Thanks for sharing.

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