Getting Rid of Old Paint – Part 1

What Is the Best Way to Get Rid of Old Paint?

This is a very frequently asked question—along with where old cans of paint can be disposed of, and how to determine if the paint is no longer usable; it is critical to answer this last question before using any older cans you may have in your home.

But what is the best way to get rid of old paint, you ask? It’s actually a fairly simple process.

How to Get Rid of Old Paint Part 1

The four easy steps to get rid of the old paint are listed and described below:

  1. Identify the paint type.
  2. Check the expiration date on the manufacturer’s label.
  3. Seek professional advice on disposing the paints.
  4. Dispose of according to given instructions.

1.    Identifying the paint type

When determining the best way to get rid of old paint, separate water-based from oil-based paints. When paints have gone beyond their expiration date, toxic chemicals react with natural gases and moisture, rendering them unfit for use.

Determine which of your previously opened cans of paint are water-based or oil-based; water-based paints have less toxic substances than oil-based paints.

2. Check expiration dates on manufacturer’s labels

To determine what might happen when the paint expires is best answered by carefully checking the manufacturer’s labels.

Expiration dates, if they are provided, are a great way to determine whether the paint can be used, or should be recycled or destroyed. This label is the key to determine the best way to get rid of old paint.

Manufacturer’s labels carry Volatile Organic Compounds descriptions and the solid content information of the paint. Paints with zero VOCs can easily be reused or recycled. However, if the VOCs are high and the paint has stayed open for over a year, consider it expired.

3. Seek professional advice on disposing the paints

If the paint is expired, seek advice from authorized agencies and other professionals on the best way to get rid of old paint.

Online information is also available on the best way to get rid of old paint. Most sites have excellent professional tips that help you understand the subject matter.

Because different regions can have specific regulations, make sure you are getting information that is relevant to your area.

4.    Dispose of appropriately

The final step to get rid of the old paint is the appropriate disposal stage. First, organize the paints in four groups:

  • expired oil-based paints
  • expired water-based paints
  • good water-based paints
  • good oil-based paints

The best way to get rid of old paints that are expired, be it water-based or oil-based, is to hand them to authorized waste disposal companies. These companies handle the paint per stipulated regional regulations.

At Mayfair Paint, we advise our customers in the Brantford Ontario area as such:

  • If the can is empty with no more than ¼” of paint left, once the can is dry it can be recycled in your blue box.
  • If there is still paint remaining in the can, it has to disposed of at Household Hazardous Waste Days at the landfill (second Saturday of the month from April-November).

The paint that you have determined is still good can be reused around your home, or donated to a community organization or art institution.


While we’ve discussed the best way to get rid of old paint, getting rid of it really isn’t a solution to dealing with excess paint cans hanging around your home. Be proactive!

Utilize paint calculators to buy the exact quantities of paint you’ll need for your project; this is the most effective way to avoid having to get rid of old paints in your home.