How to Dispose of Empty Paint Cans

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Things You'll Need

  • Kitty litter

  • Paint stirrer

  • Garbage bag

Home improvement projects often leave you with a couple inches of paint left in a can and no idea how to safely and properly get rid of the paint. The University of Missouri recommends using up any leftover paint by painting a small project or simply applying another coat of paint to your wall until the paint's gone. Latex-based paint can be thrown away when dry, but oil-based paint must be disposed of as hazardous waste. If you don't want to use up the rest of a latex-based paint, follow these tips to dispose of it properly.


Step 1

Let your paint can dry out naturally. Remove the lid and place the paint can outside or in a garage. Leave the lid off until the paint solidifies. This will only work for cans with a couple inches of paint remaining. Leave the paint can open for at least eight hours, then check to see if the paint has dried.


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Step 2

Pour kitty litter or another absorbent material into the paint can if you have more than a couple inches of paint remaining, or if the paint doesn't harden after being left open.

Step 3

Stir the paint can with a paint stirrer. As you stir, the liquid paint will become absorbed by the kitty litter until there is no more liquid left. Add more litter and continue stirring until you don't see any liquid paint.


Step 4

Place the paint cans with kitty litter into a garbage bag. Close up the garbage bag and store it with your household trash. Place the trash bag by the curb on trash day and it will be disposed of properly.


If you have usable paint left over, donate it to a theater group, graffiti removal project or art organization in your community.

Dispose of oil-based paints at a hazardous waste collection site. Ask your community's Department of Public Works where you can find a hazardous waste collection site.


Never pour liquid paint down a drain to dispose of it.


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