Get covered disposing paint cans
If you look in almost any homeowner’s garage, you’ll probably find a half-empty paint can or two. We know we can’t pour the leftover paint down the drain — which would contaminate the water treatment systems — and we can’t toss it in the trash without risking environmental damage and potential harm to the sanitation workers. So how do we get rid of old paint?
Take paint cans to a drop-off site: Spend some time locating your nearest hazardous waste facility, and see if they accept paint. Or mark your calendar for any community “roundup” days, when temporary sites are set up for collection.
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Some states, such as California, Connecticut, Oregon and Vermont, have paint stewardship laws that allow paint retailers to accept leftovers. The stores take leftover paint during regular business hours, making paint recycling and disposal much more convenient and safe. Similar legislation is expected to pass soon in Minnesota, Rhode Island and Maine.
Let it dry out: If there’s less than a half-inch of paint left, take the lid off and let it dry out until it becomes hard. Make sure to keep it out of the reach of children and pets. “Then it’s OK to throw away in the trash,” says Greg Mrakich, owner of Greg Mrakich Painting in Indianapolis.
In California, where tossing paint is illegal, residents need to take leftovers to a paint retailer or hazardous waste drop-off. Also, don’t try this with oil-based paints — too many fumes!
Mix paint in kitty litter: If there’s more than a half-inch of latex paint left in the can, stir in cat litter or a paint-hardener compound you can purchase from the hardware store. After you mix it in, let it sit in the open for a day and dry out. Then it’s OK to toss it in the trash.
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Donate it: “Sometimes local charities will want some of your good, leftover paints,” says Joshua Abramson, chief solutionist for A Allbright Painting in Valencia, Calif. “Especially whites and off-white colors.”
Another option for homeowners working with a painting contractor involves a little sweet-talking. “Ask nicely if he or she could clean out your paint locker at the end of the project!” says Michael Chism, president of highly rated Chism Brothers Painting in San Diego.
Staci Giorullo is a reporter at Angie’s List, a trusted provider of local consumer reviews and an online marketplace of services from top-rated providers