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57 Ways To Protect Your Home Environment (and Yourself)
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25. Dispose Of Paints And Solvents Safely

painting a table

Most paints contain solvents and metals that are hazardous to the environment. An exception to this is the new solvent-free paint. Latex and oil-based paints should not go to the landfill, nor should they be dumped in storm sewers, household drains, or on the ground.

Try to buy only the amount of paint that you need, and then use it up. Oil-based paint, stored in the container, can stay in good shape for up to 15 years; latex paint can last for about 10 years.


You can donate paint to friends, relatives, churches, recreation departments, community service organizations, or theatrical groups. And in some areas, recycling programs will accept paint. Another option is to take it to a household hazardous-waste collection site. If that’s not possible, contact the local University of Illinois Extension office for disposal ideas.
drying latex paint

As a last resort, latex paint can be dried out. If the can contains small amounts of latex paint, remove the lid and stir the paint to speed drying. Then allow the leftover paint in the can to dry out. Periodically stir the paint.
drying large amounts of paint

If the can contains large amounts of latex paint, brush paint in layers on newspaper or cardboard, or pour 1-inch layers of paint into a cardboard box lined with plastic. Allow the paint to dry one layer at a time. You can also mix the paint with cat litter, sawdust, or sand in a cardboard box lined with plastic. Let it dry.
when latex paint has separated...

If latex paint has separated, pour the clear liquid on top into a cardboard box lined with plastic.
mixing paint with absorbent material

Mix the liquid with an equal amount of cat litter or other absorbent material. Then allow the leftover paint in the bottom of the can to dry out.
dealing with used paint cleaners

Let turpentine or brush cleaners sit in a closed container until the paint particles settle out. Next, pour off the clear liquid, which can be reused. Add an absorbent such as cat litter to the remaining residue, and let it dry completely. Before you do this, however, make sure you know where you can dispose of the dried residue.

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