So, like most home owners, I have gallons of partially used paint, both from my old place, and old ones from the previous owners here. I want to dispose of these both safely and efficiently (we have quite a few gallons so pricey solutions may not fly).

They're all latex paint. My municipality will take these if they're "dry". I checked, and I tossed the chunked solid ones, but what about the ones with liquid? How do I dry them? Can I just open the can? That seems like it will release a lot of VOCs, which I'd rather not. I saw some "drying agent" at Home Depot, is this a good match? Or something simple like kitty litter (we do not have a cat) would be more cost efficient?

8 Answers 8


The municipalities just don't want it liquid or with the lid on. Imagine a paint can full of paint when the compactor squishes down on it. Paint everywhere! You can put whatever you want in the paint to make it more solid. Kitty litter, the store bought stuff drying agent, sand. I have used some old mortar that I had on hand. You just want to make sure that it's a solid or semi solid, and you can put it out on the curb for pickup without worry of it spilling with no lid. It would take too long for it to air dry. Also, a film might form on the top, preventing the bottom from drying.

  • UPDATE: I went with this (Home Depot recommended the same). A big plastic tub of clumping Kitty Litter ($6 or so at Meijer) and dry the surface a bit outside. Commented Aug 17, 2014 at 20:17

Look to see if your municipality has a home hazardous waste disposal. I have in a large metro area and they have multiple locations and open Tue-Sat. I've been in another where they were only open once a month. But it is a good location to dispose of batteries, paint, meds and other chemicals I don't need around the home.

  • 2
    Most municipalities don't accept latex paint at hazardous waste events, though some might. Latex isn't considered a hazardous waste. Definitely a good place to bring oil based paints.
    – Edwin
    Commented Aug 11, 2014 at 4:49
  • Ours says they won't except latex but I've never had a problem, they've taken several gallons many times.
    – user20127
    Commented Aug 11, 2014 at 11:12
  • Thanks for this. I considered this, but our community only does this certain times a year. Our timeline is a bit shorter. Besides, I have quite a few cans and it's a long drive. So for that expense of effort, I don't want to walk in a situation where I know I'm doing something they'd most likely say no to. Commented Aug 17, 2014 at 3:48

I picked up a leaflet on paint re-use at the local B&Q (UK DIY store) the other day. If you can't give it to a community re-use scheme they say stir in sawdust/wood shavings/a proprietary paint-setting product (similar to cat litter). The set (emulsion/latex) paint can then be disposed of as normal waste and if you empty the tin in the process that may be recycled. The older alternative is to paint/spread/pour it onto scrap board or newspaper. Even a very thick coat will eventually set and you can use the same board many times. This is a good option for small quantities but a pain if you want to get rid of lots in one go.


What I have done on several occasions is to pour unwanted latex paint out on a sheet of plastic in the sun. spread it out so there are no deep puddles. After it dries, simply fold up the plastic and dispose as any other solid waste. After the can is dry, it also can go into recycling or the trash.


Open the lid and let it dry out. Place it out of the way somewhere where rainwater will not cause it to overflow. Throw it out in a few weeks when it is mostly dried up. Do not worry about VOCs, this is an acceptable method of disposal.


Latex paint is water soluble and non-toxic. You can dilute with water and pour it down the drain. Alternatively you can just throw it out in the trash.

  • Most municipal and contract waste haulers forbid throwing it out in the trash unless it is dried out. Commented Aug 13, 2014 at 5:06

I'd try the craigslist free section before I tried actually disposing of it.

  • This is a comment, not an answer.
    – Doresoom
    Commented Aug 11, 2014 at 18:27

Check out paintcare.org and see if that helps.

  • This will only be useful to users in a few states.
    – Tester101
    Commented Aug 11, 2014 at 11:37

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