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  • Writer's pictureAshley

How To Dispose of Paint Responsibly

As a professional organizer, I often come across cans of paint in basements, garages, and storage rooms. Some rusted, some labeled, some completely used or dried up. Most of which, after further inspection and identification, my clients are willing to let go of. Which is wonderful – because paint cans can take up a lot of space! But then the question becomes, what do we do with paint we no longer need? I am here to provide you with some guidance. Hopefully this will inspire you to do your own paint can decluttering and gain back some valuable storage space in your home.

First off, NEVER dump paint on the ground or in a storm drain, as it can pollute our groundwater and harm wildlife. Instead follow these tips for responsible disposal.

For water-based or latex paint:

  • In a well-ventilated area, away from children and pets, remove the paint can lid for the paint to dry out. It can take a few days, so to speed up the drying process, you can stir in an absorbent material, such as kitty litter, shredded paper, or sawdust.

  • Once all the paint has dried up in the can, you can toss it into your regular trash. Go ahead and leave the lid off, so that the waste collectors can see that the can is dried up and is deemed acceptable for disposal.

  • Paint thinner can also be disposed of this same way.

For oil-based paint:

  • Unfortunately, oil based paint is not as easy to dispose of, as it contains toxic chemicals. For responsible disposal, it should be taken to an environmental management disposal or recycling company. Check with your local Departments of Solid Waste so see if they hold a cleanup event that you can bring the cans of paint to or if they have other resources.

  • If you live in Northern KY, the annual Hazardous Waste Collection Event is held the first Saturday in November. For more details and other resources, visit

  • If you live in Cincinnati, the annual Hazardous Waste Collection event is typically held in October. For more details and other resources, visit

The best tip is to shop responsibly and only buy what you need in the first place. If you have leftover paint, label the lid with the color and area of your home that it was used. Evaluate your paint stash every few years and when no longer needed, consider donating. Paint can last up to 20 years and can be donated to Matthew 25 Ministries. Note that you CANNOT donate paint to Goodwill, St. Vincent de Paul, or Salvation Army. Check with your local Habitat for Humanity. In Cincinnati and Northern KY, Habitat for Humanity does NOT accept paint.

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