Your freshly painted walls look pristine and you’re satisfied with a job well done. (Check out our top tips for a perfect pint job). But before dumping your leftover paint or tossing it out with the trash, think about ways to use those leftovers. Always save a small amount for touchups. After that, if you can’t think of any other ways to use the paint, here’s how to get rid of it responsibly.
First, never dump paint down the drain, into a storm sewer or onto the ground. “Household paint” contaminates ground water and although it is not generally considered hazardous waste, it can’t be treated like standard garbage.
Fortunately, there are ways to safely deal with leftover paint.
Keep it for later
If you have the space, save the can in case the painted surface gets damaged and you need to do more than just a little touching up. Check our advice about how to store paint safely.
Dried paint can be put out for curbside collection with your trash. To dry out the leftover paint, lay sheet of plastic or a bunch of newspapers on the ground and spread the paint over it, and let the sun dry it out. Do this on a day that’s not too windy and keep and children and pets away from the area. When the paint is dry, roll up the sheet and put it in the trash. For small amounts, leave the tin in the sun without a lid until dry, or use newspaper or kitty litter to soak up the worst first. Larger amounts will need a commercial hardener, such as Homax Waste Paint Hardener before throwing the can away.
Most hardware stores operate a system for dealing with leftover paint. You may also have city or county collection sites near to you.
Some companies recycle excess paint. Paintcare operates local drop-off points – find your nearest center by checking their online list. Organizations like Habitat for Humanity take donation of paint that is suitable for re-sale. For a comprehensive list of recycling options, check out the index at Earth 911.
Give it away
You can also donate your unneeded paint to a local charity that is in need. Many non-profits, such as those providing housing for the homeless, youth projects and kids’ daycare facilities might love the chance to use your leftover paint for an improvement project. Or, offer it on a neighborhood swap site such as Freecycle.
Of course, by planning ahead you can avoid having lots of leftover paint in the first place. But if you do end up with more than you need, think before you get rid of it. You’ll be doing the environment, yourself and others a favor.
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