Getting Rid of Old Paint – Part 2

How to Dispose of Leftover Paint and Old Paint Cans

You’ve decided to pull out that paint that’s been sitting in your garage for a few years. You get it out, and it’s all separated. Is it still okay to use or should you bin it? If it’s past it’s best use, what’s the best way to get rid of old paint? In this post, we’ll answer those questions and a few more besides.

Does paint expire?

The short answer is, “Yes.” The good news is that if the can was sealed properly, you’ve got about ten to fifteen years before that happens. Seal it properly by first placing a piece of plastic wrap over the top. Then seal the can as well as possible.

Latex paint has a shorter lifespan of about ten years. Oil paint will last up to fifteen years.

How can you tell if paint has gone bad?

You’ll be able to tell if the paint is still good by looking at the consistency and taking note of the smell. If the paint is still good, it will have a chemical smell. If it’s bad, it will smell rancid.

Paint separating is not that much of an issue, as long as you can remix the layers. Start by removing the skin of the paint. Then try mixing the rest of the contents. If the paint is still okay, you’ll see them blend smoothly.

If the paint is lumpy, completely dry, or has a different texture to it, it’s best to get rid of it.

It also pays to note that you should store paint between 50° F and 72°F. If it’s been exposed to temperatures outside that range, it is probably no longer useful.

Can I put paint in the garbage?

That’s going to depend on the paint itself and the ordinances in your area. In Ontario, paint usually needs to be disposed of at a proper facility. There are several such facilities in the area, and it won’t cost you anything to get rid of the waste.

If your local ordinances do allow you to dispose of paint in the garbage, you’ll need to take precautions. Latex paint can be considered a health hazard, so it shouldn’t go into the trash wet. If you want to toss it this way, you’ll have to make sure that it’s thoroughly dried.

To dry paint out, try the following:

  • Leave it open, in a well-ventilated, sunny, warm spot for a few days.
  • Alternatively, you can mix in a paint hardener. These are inexpensive and will ensure that the paint is completely dry.
  • If you want something even less expensive, add kitty litter or scraps of newspaper into the paint. These will help soak away the moisture so that it dries up more quickly.

As mentioned in Part 1 of How to Dispose of Old 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).

How do you dispose of dried paint?

Your best bet is to find a facility that allows you to drop off hazardous waste.

Final Notes

If you are not sure about whether the paint is still good or not, it’s best to replace it. You could, if you prefer, donate it to a charity like Habitat for Humanity if you feel it’s still okay. It’s better not to keep leftover paint for too long.

If you’re concerned about matching the exact colour to your walls for touch-ups, make a note of the formula when buying the paint. That way, you can get them to create a small tin for touch-ups later. Alternatively, keep a small container of the original paint and donate any excess.

And remember, if you have any questions about paint, call Mayfair Paint N Paper! 519-756-9790