How To Properly Dispose of Old Paint 

If you’ve been in your home for a little while, you’ve probably tackled some household updates, painted some rooms, touched up the trim, and so on… And if you’re like many, many people who purchase paint for these projects, you likely have some old paint cans laying around in the basement or garage. Disposing of Old Paint

Hopefully you know that old paint shouldn’t just be thrown in the trash as is (and that’s why it’s still sitting around the house) – but what should you do with it? The chemicals in paint can seep into the ground, contaminate septic systems, and pose risks to sanitation workers. Simply tossing half-full paint cans out with the rest of the garbage is a mistake that could put others in harm’s way. 

Fortunately, there are safe, proper ways to dispose of old paint cans in a responsible manner! 

Prepare for Disposal

It’s best to first check local laws to make sure you’re following any requirements your state or city may have in place. The Massachusetts government provides this guide for the use and disposal of paints and other hazardous materials. Make sure to check your local county or city laws for any additional guidelines. In general, latex paint can be thrown away if it is appropriately absorbed, dried out, or hardened. Oil-based paint, however, is considered toxic by most municipalities, and needs to be taken care of professionally (more on that in the next section). 

For small amounts of latex paint remaining in the bottom of a can, you can try leaving the open can out in the sun and waiting for it to dry. Absorbent materials like newspaper, kitty litter, or sawdust can help speed up the process. If you have more than just a little bit of paint in a can, you can use an over-the-counter paint hardener, typically available at hardware stores for just a few dollars. 

Once your latex paint is fully absorbed, dried out, or hardened, you should be able to throw it away with the rest of your household trash. 


If you have a fair amount of paint laying around, considering donating it to an organization that needs it! Places like Habitat for Humanity, local schools or churches, and other charitable organizations may be in need. Before you throw out perfectly good paint, reach out to such institutions, or ask friends and family if they know of anyone in need! 

Professional Disposal 

For oil-based and other toxic paints – or if your local laws don’t allow you to throw away latex paint – there are options for professional disposal. Habitat for Humanity has a program, local paint stores will be able to offer guidance, and you can always search for hazardous waste drop off sites in your area! Check here for local collection facilities around Massachusetts. 

You don’t have to let old paint cans stack up around the house. If you aren’t going to use it, there are plenty of options for donation and safe disposal at your fingertips. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to CertaPro of Metrowest, MA today!