How to Dispose of Paint Water


While many people think of latex paint as a "safer" alternative to its oil-based counterparts, even water-based paint can contaminate groundwater and other water supplies. Although it is obvious that painters should not use a hose or dump paint-contaminated water on the ground, even washing paint down the sink can cause problems. Precleaning brushes and other tools before washing them reduces the amount of water that you will need to use. Safe washing practices take a little more thought and effort, but it is a small price to pay to keep our water clean.

Things You'll Need

  • Rags
  • 5-in-1 tool
  • 2 1-gallon buckets
  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Use a rag to wipe off your brush. Squeeze the bristle between layers of the fabric. Continue wiping until you no longer see any paint coming from the brush.

  • Dispose of your roller sleeve to save time and keep contaminated water from going down the drain. If you plan to reuse your roller, roll off excess paint on a clean surface, such as the wall you just painted. Scrape the remaining paint off the roller sleeve with the curved side of a 5-in-1 tool. Wipe the tool off on a rag. Continue scraping until you remove most of the paint from the roller sleeve. Rollers with a longer nap hold more paint and take longer to clean.

  • Put some water in a 1-gallon bucket. Swish your brush in the water. Wipe the brush off on a clean rag. Soak your roller sleeve in the paint water.

  • Fill a second 1-gallon bucket with clean water. Give your brush a second rinse to remove almost all traces of paint. Wipe the brush off again on a clean rag.

  • Squeeze the water out of your roller sleeve with your 5-in-1 tool. Transfer your sleeve to the bucket of cleaner water. Soak the sleeve for a few minutes. Scrape the nap to release excess water.

  • Wash your brush and roller sleeve under running water. If the water is still coming out dirty, you can soak your brush or sleeve for a third time.

  • Set the bucket of cleaner water aside to use again. The paint will settle as it sits.

  • Pour the dirtier bucket of water into a 5-gallon bucket. Leave the bucket in a warm, dry place. Allow the water to evaporate.

  • Peel out the dried paint residue at the bottom of the bucket. Dispose of this hardened paint in a trash bag with your other trash.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can purchase a 5-in-1 tool at any paint supply store.

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  • Photo Credit painter's supplies image by Tammy Mobley from
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