This is the alt text Proper Disposal

Watching Paint Dry | How to Dispose of Latex Paint

Cristie Snyder

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that about 10 percent of all paint purchased in the United States becomes “leftover.” Leftover paint is the largest volume of material collected by government household hazardous waste collection programs.

However, latex paint, is not hazardous and can be disposed of along with your household trash. Made of 99 percent water and 1 percent rubber, latex paint can be safely disposed of when dried out. So, when you’re finished painting your bedroom that perfect shade of blue, you can dispose of the remaining paint yourself. Here’s a step-by-step guide for properly disposing of leftover latex paint, plus instructions for responsible use and reuse.

Ways to Solidify Latex Paint Before Disposal
Air dry latex paint by removing the lid on the paint can and allowing the liquid to evaporate. This works best for small quantities – i.e. an inch at the bottom of the can – and can take several days, so be prepared to be patient.

To speed up the process, use a drying agent. Mix an equal amount of an absorbent material such as cat litter into the paint can and allow the paint to dry. In addition to cat litter, you can use sawdust, plaster of Paris, Oil-dri, or a product called waste paint hardener which can be purchased at home improvement stores.

Another way to dry out latex paint is by layering. Pour several thin layers into a cardboard box lined with plastic. Allow paint to dry one layer at a time until all the paint has hardened.

When the paint is thoroughly dry, place it in a regular trash bag and put it out with your weekly trash collection.

What Not to Do with Latex Paint
* Do not dump the paint on the ground or down storm drains where it will travel directly to surface or groundwater.
* Do not pour paint down the drain. While small amounts of latex paint during cleaning can safely be washed down the drain, this practice should be kept to a minimum.
* Do not put liquid paint that has not been properly dried out into the regular trash. Leaking paint spills out of waste collection trucks onto city streets, making a mess that is difficult to clean.

Tips for Responsible Paint Use – and Reuse
* Figure out how much paint you’ll need for your project with a paint calculator which can be found on most home improvement store websites or on mobile apps such as Paint Calculator.
* If you’re unsure about the color, pick up paint swatches at the store or buy a sample size and test it out on a small wall section to see if you like it.
* Be industrious and use leftover paint to give new life to a birdhouse, an old book case, or outdoor furniture.

Donate large quantities of latex paint to an arts center or improvement project. Make sure the paint is not contaminated, and that it has not gone through a freeze-thaw cycle. These locations should accept paint donations, but it’s a good idea to call ahead to confirm.

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