One of the many activities that you can undertake to care for our environment is the safe and considerate disposal of paint, solvents and related products. When purchasing paint, remember to estimate the exact amount required for the job. Buy only what you need. Ask your your Thrifty-Link paint specialist for assistance.

Use it All Up

If usable latex paint is left over after your project is finished, you can:

  • Use it for touching up your work, or store it away for future fixes.
  • Mix small amounts of paint together and use it as an undercoat for future jobs.
  • Donate paint to charities (for example, Habitat for Humanity, church groups, community groups, theater groups, schools or your neighbor.
  • Contact your local recycling center to see if the cans and lids can be recycled.

Never place liquid paint in the trash or pour it down the drain.

Storing Paint

Prepare the paint for storage: Label the paint can lid with the color and the location where the paint was used.

To properly store your paint, make sure you tightly seal the can. First, wipe away any excess paint from the rim. Then cover the can opening with plastic wrap. Put the lid securely in place and tap it down with a mallet. Store the can upside down. If the can is leaking, place it in a leak-proof container.

Store paint where temperatures are moderate. Temperature extremes can negatively affect paint and make it unusable. Never allow paint to freeze.

Quick-reference your stored cans by brushing a small amount of paint onto the outside surface (body of can or lid) and writing the color name and number in permanent ink. You can also identify the room or wall that was painted with that color.

You may also want to create and save a file on your computer of the paints you have placed in storage; that way, if someone tosses it by mistake you still have the information at your fingertips.

Keep paint in a safe location, away from children and pets.

Paint Disposal

Proper paint disposal contributes to a more efficient use of our landfills and, ultimately, safergroundwater and soil. We recommend the following tips:

  • Check local ordinances and waste hauler regulations.
  • Read paint can instructions for proper disposal.

Place properly dried latex in your regular household trash; however, follow these steps prior to disposal:

  • Cans with leftover paint should be left open so that the paint dries before disposal.
  • Make sure you place the drying cans in a well ventilated area.
  • Cans with less than a quarter of the paint remaining will require a few days of drying time; cans with larger amounts will take longer, about a week.
  • You can also add shredded newspaper, sand, sawdust, cat litter or paint solidifier to the paint, which will absorb the excess paint. These materials also work well in stopping paint spills from spreading on most surfaces.
  • Another solution is to punch holes in the top of the can and then place it in a dry area for a couple of weeks.
  • When the cans are ready to be thrown out, make sure the lids have been removed to let waste haulers know the paint is dry.

NOTE: Oil-based paints, varnish or paint thinners are generally considered hazardous waste.

Check with your municipality about any local ordinances and read label instructions before disposal — another good reason why you never want to spill paint on the back of your paint can label. Only dispose through your locally designated household hazardous waste program.


The Valspar Corporation takes environmental sustainability and responsibility seriously. Our architectural paints meet or exceed national, state and local ordinances for low VOC in consumer products. In addition, we have saved over a million gallons of water usage in our latex plant operations through optimization and reuse programs.

Recycling metal and plastic paint cans should always be considered to reduce landfill usage. Paint cans should be thoroughly clean and dry. Metal cans are recyclable. Plastic cans may be recyclable if your waste hauler accepts them. Check your local ordinances or your waste hauler to see what is allowed.

Tool Tips

Good painting tools can be reused many times —saving you money and time spent shopping for new tools as well as helping the environment by generating less waste.


  • To reuse a roller the next day, place it in a plastic bag for storage to prevent it from drying out.
  • With latex paint, partially fill a sink with warm water and roll the applicator back and forth.
  • You can also remove paint in a bucket of water. If necessary, use detergent with the water to remove difficult paint. Rinse the roller until the water is clear. Let dry.
  • For oil-based paint, roll the applicator in a paint tray containing mineral spirits (petroleum distillate) or paint thinner. Then wash the roller in soapy water. Rinse thoroughly and let dry.
  • Spin out the excess moisture and place rollers into clean plastic bags, such as food storage bags.


  • With latex paint, remove most of the excess in a bucket or container while the paint is still wet. It is much more difficult to remove dried paint with soap and water. Wash off the remaining paint under running water.
  • Oil-based paint should be removed in a bucket or container with mineral spirits (petroleum distillate), rinsed in tap water and then washed with soapy water. Rinse once more.
  • Moist paintbrushes can be wrapped in wax paper and sealed with a rubber band or aluminum foil to retain their shape. Hang the brush upside down to maintain its shape.


A spontaneous combustion hazard exists when cleaning up after using products that contain drying oils, such as linseed oil or tung oil. Rags, steel wool, sanding dust or waste soaked with oil-based products may spontaneously catch fire if improperly discarded. Immediately after each use, place rags, steel wool, sanding dust or waste in a sealed, water-filled metal container.

Other Tools

  • Follow the directions on the paint label for tools used.
  • Applying the excess paint to cardboard or newspaper, or carefully scraping the tool, should remove excess paint.

Information supplied by Wattyl (The Valspar Corporation)