Maybe you’ve inherited an ancient stash of paint with that new house you just bought, or perhaps you’ve had your house painted a few times over the years and you’re starting to amass quite a collection of colors you don’t even have anywhere in your home anymore, or you even have whole gallons of unused paint because you chose a color and you had no idea it was going to be such a putrid green or pepto bismol pink; it’s easy to let those cans pile up. Then they just sit there, taking up space because you don’t know what to do with them.
I get long detailed emails asking what to do with paint all the time. People try to make their stash sound as enticing as possible in hopes that I’ll come and take it off their hands. Unfortunately for those people, I don’t want their hoard of old paint cans either!
The good news is, there are lots of options for safely and properly disposing of paint that is no longer of need to you. Depending on how much time and energy you have, there is an option that will be right for you.
First off, if it’s really old, like really, really old; oil based, solvent based, has a label on the side that says “now with more lead”, or something your great great great grandfather mixed up himself with turpentine and boar’s blood, you’ll want to get on the ol compute and google ‘hazardous waste disposal near me’. For the Chicagoland area, that would be the Household Chemicals and Computer Recycling Facility or, the Goose Island place, as I call it. They’ll take that kind of stuff but check the days and hours because they’re limited and you cannot just dump stuff at off hours.
Now if you’re like the rest of the world, and find yourself pressed for time, and you don’t want to spend precious free time trying to unload your old latex paint, I recommend contacting Got Paint? Pickup It is the easiest and most hassle free option. They will come to your house or business and pick up your 5 gallon, gallon, and quart sized paint, and recycle the paint and containers for a minimal fee.
You simply go to their website and enter the number you have of each size container andthey send you an invoice with the pick up date. Pay the invoice promptly and put your paint outside and they’ll take it! It’s all automated and couldn’t be easier.
Another option for recycling paint is checking out Earth Paint. They have a facility in Wood Dale, host pop ups from time to time, and have also partnered with several area Ace Hardwares and True Values to take latex and oil based paint for a small fee, or tax deductible donation, that is used to pay the special
needs folks they employ. They’re doing a lot of really neat things with paint waste! Why not make a day of it and stay to volunteer for a bit while dropping off your paint at their facility?
Some Habitat for Humanity locations will accept gallons and quarts of paint providing they were never opened. It’s best to check with your particular location first before hauling a car load of materials over to them.
You can try listing your leftover paint on Next Door, local Virtual Yard Sale sites in your community, Freecycle and CraigsList.
You can possibly donate leftover paint to local nonprofits, community, or arts centers that may have a use for them.
My least favorite option is throwing old paint away. Technically latex paint isn’t considered hazardous if it’s in a solid state. Most waste companies say that as long as you add a hardener or kitty litter to your pant, it can just be tossed out. I’m not a fan of that stuff just sitting in a landfill though.
I hope this provides some viable options for you, when it comes time for you to finally get around to addressing that ever growing pile of rusty, dusty, old cans! You’ll feel so much better when you do. I myself just scheduled a pick up with Got Paint? of a couple dozen cans of partially full paint that I have moved from house to house, workshop to workshop for YEARS!
Whatever you do, don’t just pour that paint down your drain or sewer! That would be the very worst option.