Home Improvement

How to Dispose of Paint Properly

Taking on a DIY painting project can be lots of fun. That is, until you have to deal with the aftermath. Ensuring proper ventilation, lots and lots of cleaning, getting rid of rogue paint that got on your floor, carpet, door, etc. But there’s one thing that many of us choose to avoid for years – disposing of unused paint.

You might as well keep it in the shed, right? After all, you never know when the walls might need a touch-up. Maybe you’ll find something else you want to paint later on, too. Let’s be real, though – you probably won’t. Let that 10-year-old paint can go.

It’s time to face the music and find out how to properly dispose of paint, be it fresh or old.

Table of Contents:

So, if you:

  • Have recently painted your walls;
  • Are wondering how to throw away leftover paint safely;
  • Want to finally tackle the mountain of old paint cans in your shed,

Then keep on reading – this post has everything you need!

How to dispose of unused paint

Let us start with this – under no circumstances should you pour your leftover paint down the drain! While it seems like the easy way to dispose of old paint, the consequences are not worth it. Not only can this cause a severe blockage, but it’s also pretty bad for the environment.

In that case, you can just chuck the can in the rubbish bin, right?


Liquid paint is banned from landfills in the UK, so the council won’t accept it.

So, how do you dispose of paint properly? It might look like there aren’t many options left, but that’s not necessarily the case. Here are some good ways to get rid of latex or acrylic paint:

Donate your leftover paint

If you have a fair amount of paint left in the can after painting a room (and it’s still usable), consider giving it away. You can contact your friends and family to see if they need it for a project.

If your close ones can’t find a use for your leftover paint, you can donate it to a local charity project. Another option is to take a look at organisations, such as Community RePaint – they can take the cans off your hands and give them to someone else who needs them.

Throw it away responsibly

Perhaps the cans have been sitting in your shed for ages and can no longer be used, or there’s only a tiny bit of paint left. So, donating them is not an option. In this case, you’ll need to know how to safely dispose of paint.

As we mentioned above, you can’t throw liquid paint away with the rest of your household waste. This means you’ll need to dry it out first.

  • Paint residue.
    If there’s only a bit of residue left in the can, leaving it out in the sun for a while should do the trick. Just make sure it’s out of reach of pets and children. When it’s completely dry, simply peel the layer off the can and throw it out with your household waste.
  • Small amounts of paint.
    If there’s more than just a film of paint left, you can brush or pour it onto a piece of cardboard. When it dries out, throw it in the rubbish bin.
  • Large amounts of paint.
    If there are more than a few centimetres of paint left, you’ll need to give it a hand to dry it out. Get some sand, soil, or sawdust (or a paint hardener if you so choose). Either put it directly into the can and mix it with the paint, or pour the paint out into a secure bag first and add it there. This will help the paint harden, and you can then chuck it into the bin. To make sure it’s completely dry, poke a few holes all the way through the paint.

How to dispose of old paint tins

So, you’ve dealt with the paint. But what about disposing of the paint cans?

Luckily, you can recycle metal paint tins. Just call up your local household waste recycling centre to make sure they accept paint cans and if they have any requirements, then take them down. While plastic ones are mostly not recycled, you can still take them to the recycling centre, where they’ll make sure to dispose of them safely.

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How to dispose of oil-based paint responsibly

The disposal method we covered above works great for water-based paint like latex and acrylic). Oil-based paints, however, are a different kettle of fish. As it’s considered hazardous, you’ll have to check with your local authority to find out how you can throw it away safely. This applies to paint thinner, too. Your hometown should have a hazardous waste plant where you can take your leftover oil paint.

Need help with your next decoration project?

If you’d like to avoid the hassle and the mess related to DIY painting next time, you can always turn to the professionals. The experienced painters and decorators at Fantastic Services come equipped with all the tools they need. They will take every precaution necessary to ensure the paint only touches your walls and nothing else. Your home will be left looking better than ever, there will be no mess left to deal with, and – best of all – the experts will dispose of any leftover paint! All you need to do is sit back and relax while Fantastic Services takes care of everything.

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  • Under no circumstances should you pour leftover paint down the drain.
  • Liquid paint is banned from landfills in the UK – you need to dry it out before throwing it away.
  • If you have a good amount of paint left, you can donate it.
  • You can take empty paint cans to your local household waste recycling centre.
  • If you’re dealing with oil-based paint, contact your local authority to find out how you can dispose of it safely.

So, you’ve finished painting the room, you’ve disposed of the old paint, and everything looks great. You look down, only to find a paint stain on your carpet! Don’t panic – we’ve got you covered. Find out how to remove paint from a carpet in our helpful blog post!


Did we answer your questions? How do you dispose of old paint responsibly? Let us know in the comments below!

Image source: Shutterstock / Africa Studio

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