After your painting job is done you may have some leftover paint. The question now is: “What should you do with it?” Here are some alternatives:
This may sound simple, and it is. What better place to put that last pint or so of paint but right up there on the wall where it blends inperfectly with all the other paint you just put there. Sure, it’s a little extra work – and right when you thought you were done for the day – but you’ll be rid of that extra paint for good. Then, simply let the can air dry and dispose of it (next to the garbage, with the cover off).
Paint Something Else!
It doesn’t even have to need the paint. Use an old piece of cardboard, some scrap lumber, or the inside of your garage. Just about anywhere would probably work to use up that last bit of paint. Again, let the can dry and recycle or dispose of it.
Use an Absorbent like Concrete Mix!
Concrete mix is inexpensive and will absorb moisture and the paint will dry like a brick. Depending on how full the can is, just add the absorbent to the can and mix it up. When the concrete mix has set, place the can, with the cover off, next to the regular garbage. As long as the hauler can see there is no liquid they will take it.
Ace Hardware stores and The Home Depot sell a product which turns paint into a gel-like product. They may also be able to help you dispose of excess paint.
Kitty litter and other types of absorbent do not do as well as the concrete mix. If they do absorb the paint, the mixture still must be disposed of in a plastic bag. Now you have two things to dispose of!
Oil based paints and paint thinners:
Oil based paint, paint thinners and other solvents should never be emptied onto the ground where they will contaminate the soil and leach into the groundwater. These items can only be taken to the Household Hazardous Waste Site for safe disposal. They will NOT take any other kinds of paint, empty or leaking paint containers.
Latex Based Paint
Latex based paint is not accepted at the Household Hazardous Waste Site or by Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful. It is water-based and does not contain toxic material. Refer to the information above regarding the use of concrete mix (about $4 at your local hardware store). When you have hardened your latex paint with concrete mix it can be put out curbside with your regular garbage pickup, with the lid OFF the can so they can see it is not a liquid.
Some Ace Hardware Stores have a latex paint recycling program.
In response to lead-based paint (LBP) concerns, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) has prepared an information package which outlines those LBP removal approaches which IEPA recognizes as being consistent with protecting human health and the environment. This site does not accept empty, dry or leaking paint containers
Empty Paint Cans:
Some paint containers, including tin and plastic, may be disposable. Make sure they are cleaned out and no remnant of paint is left. Place empty tin cans next to the garbage with the lid off so the hauler can see the can is empty and dry. This site does not accept empty, dry or leaking paint containers.