Apartment Advice

How to Store and Dispose of Paint (+ Other Hard to Manage Items)

It seems there’s always some paint leftover after a project, but you can’t just toss it away in the garbage. Here’s how to dispose of paint.

You know you can’t just throw a car battery in with the rest of your trash.

But did you know that you need to dispose of things like paint separately, too?

Depending on where you live, there’s a long laundry list of things that need recycling in a distinct way. From AA batteries (single-use and rechargeable) to how to dispose of paint, the garbage can isn’t where you get rid of these unusual items.

When you move into a new home, or you’re a regular DIY-er, you’ll need to know how to store and dispose of paint and other essentials.

This guide will teach you the tricks to keeping your hard-to-manage goods safe. You’ll also learn how to get rid of them without getting slapped with a fine!


Storing and Disposing of Paint

Taking care of paint isn’t as simple as sticking a lid on it, then tossing it in the trash when it’s gone. If you want it to last a long time, you need to store it properly.

Then there’s the question of what kind of aerosol or liquid paint you’re using. Paint care varies depending on the base of your paint. Handling varnish is different from latex, for instance.

The fumes for both are dangerous to breathe if they have high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These cause many health problems and are a pollutant. But varnish tends to have higher levels and is flammable, unlike latex and water-based paints.

How to Properly Store Paint

No matter what kind of paint you’re dealing with, it’s essential to fully seal it before you put it in storage. Otherwise, your leftover paint will harden.

Get rid of any paint that snuck into the grooves and would keep the lid from closing tightly. Then, take a hammer or rubber mallet and gently tap the top along the edges.

If you use a hammer, be careful not to hit too hard and bend the lid or the can. That will make it harder to open and keep it from sealing tightly.

How to Get Rid of Paint

When you’ve finished with your paint cans, whether they’re empty or not, you need to dispose of them correctly.

First, figure out if you have latex or oil-based paint or solvents. This makes a huge difference in the way you handle your finished cans.

You can recycle latex paint, but if you’d rather throw it away, you can — as long as you do it the right way. All you need is cat litter and a trash can. Pour the same amount of paint and kitty litter into the can. Let it set overnight, then throw it into your garbage can.

You cannot throw away oil-based paint — even empty cans. The empty containers still fall under the label of hazardous waste. Take the can to the paint disposal or drop-off site in your area.

Before you dispose of those cans of spray paint, check out: Using Stained Glass Paint as Your Next DIY Project


Hazardous Waste in the Household

 how to dispose of paint hazardous waste

Before getting rid of household hazardous waste (HHW), you need to know what items fall under this category. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), if a household item can catch fire, explode, react, or is corrosive or toxic, it’s hazardous.

We already know that paint is hazardous waste. So are many other things you might not realize, though.

Are you throwing any of these items in your trash can?

If so, you could be fined, especially if you’re a business owner.

Keep an eye out for how you dispose of:

Many government entities are working toward the goal of getting rid of hazardous waste entirely. They want to replace these items with eco-friendly alternatives. In the meantime, here’s how you get rid of what you have in your home.

Disposing of Hazardous Waste

By keeping an eye out for anything potentially hazardous before bringing it home, you can be more cautious about what you buy. Once it’s yours, pay attention to the labels to learn how to get rid of each unwanted item.

There are a few things you should never do with hazardous waste. Never pour it down the drain or on the ground outside. Don’t pour or dump it into sewers or put it out with the trash. If you do any of these things, the waste can get into the water lines or pollute the environment.

Always follow the instructions for storing and discarding on the item’s label. Be cautious, you could accidentally cause the chemicals to explode by mixing them or storing them in temperatures that are too hot or cold.

Keep hazardous chemicals in their original containers. Don’t remove the labels. You might remember what’s where, but if someone comes in behind you, they won’t.

As you dispose of leftovers, don’t mix hazardous waste products together. They could contaminate each other and react volatilely or become unusable as recycled products.

When in doubt, check the local waste or health agencies in your area to find out where you can drop off your hazardous items.

Wash those paint-stained hands using these Best Soap Dispensers for 2023

Replacing Your Appliances

You have your own updated, energy-efficient appliances. You don’t need the ones that came with the place, but the owner doesn’t want them back, either.

How do you get rid of them?

If you haven’t bought anything yet, ask the store if they’ll pick up your old ones when they deliver the new appliances. They’ll probably charge a small fee, but it’ll be worth it to avoid a future headache.

Offloading the Old Stuff

Maybe it’s too late, and you already have your upgraded appliances. That’s okay! You want to get rid of them and get them out of the way, of course. No matter what, you’re not stuck with them forever.

You could try to sell the old items if they’re in good condition. One of the easiest ways to do this is to advertise on Facebook Marketplace or another media platform. Include pictures and a description of each appliance.

Be honest about the working condition of the item. It may surprise you how many people are willing to pay a few dollars for something that you think isn’t fixable, but they know it only needs a cheap part or two.

When you don’t think anyone would want to buy your old or broken appliances (or you just want to do a good deed), you could post a curb alert on your social media. Let your followers know what’s available and when and where it will be. Explain that the items are free to anyone willing to haul them away.

However, if no one picks them up, most states require you take the large appliance to a recycling center or landfill.

This isn’t a big deal if you have a truck and someone with muscles to help you load anything heavy. If you don’t, there are some services that will pick them up for you and dispose of them properly, but you’ll have to pay a fee.

Related: AC Repair: Your Step-By-Step Troubleshooting Guide for Fixing AC Issues



We already discussed not dumping hazardous waste, including oil, down the drain. But there are multiple types of oils, and each one has its own rules for disposal.

How you handle unwanted oil is a serious thing. A tiny bit of spilled liquid can cause a lot of damage to the environment. It should never touch the ground or water.

Follow these rules if you have to get rid of any oil-based products around your home.

Disposing of Motor Oil

Changing your car’s oil can save you a lot of money. Yet, what you do with the old oil matters. The used oil is a massive pollutant, able to contaminate one million gallons of water before it’s diluted.

Once you’ve changed your oil, you can reuse it to lubricate other equipment or bring it in a leak-proof container to a government facility for recycling. Some automobile facilities will collect this waste, too.

Disposing of Oil/Gasoline Mixtures

Old oil and gas mixtures are a fire hazard you don’t want to leave around your home. If you toss a can of this mix into your trash or sewage, though, you’ll probably find yourself with a hefty fine.

This mix is dangerous to the environment. It can’t be poured into the ground, down the drain, or left in the trash.

Instead, pour the mix into a gas can and seal it tightly. Make sure it’s covered so it can’t leak or spill. Then, bring it to a recycling or hazardous waste facility.

Disposing of Gasoline

There isn’t much that’s more flammable or dangerous than gasoline. Just exposing the fumes to heat is enough to start a fire.

Gas is always in demand until it gets old and isn’t usable anymore. When that happens, you must handle the material with care as you get rid of it. Use gloves to pour the old oil into a leak-proof gas can.

The best way to do this is to put sheets you don’t want to use again under the can. Then, pour the old gas into the new can using a funnel or filter. Seal the can tightly and take it to a hazardous waste facility.


General Recycling and Community Programs

 how to dispose of paint recycling

In most communities, there are occasional collection events where you can drop off hard-to-manage goods. These are usually sponsored by the local governments or municipalities.

You can be confident knowing your items will be disposed of or recycled the right way.

Some cities have recycling programs. They provide the community with an individual recycling bin or a central drop-off site.

Donating to Habitat For Humanity Restore

If what you have is reusable, like an appliance, look into donating to places like Habitat for Humanity ReStore. These are independently owned stores run by a local Habitat for Humanity organization.

Each site accepts donations to sell or give away. The merchandise has to be in good shape, and then it’s sold to the public for a reasonable price. This way, reusable household items aren’t in the landfills, and those in need have access to essential items.

In some cases, the donations of building materials and appliances go toward local families who need their homes built or repaired.

Getting Rid of Non-Reusable Liquid or Solid Waste

Most of the time, our waste isn’t reusable. It’s hard to give away empty cleaners, pesticides, and other HHW items.

If you know you’ll have a bunch of stuff to dispose of, hold onto your hard-to-manage things until you see any community center or take-back events. These are programs held by government agencies or law enforcement offices to collect things like medications and household hazardous waste.

Each event will list the items you can drop off. Then, you can avoid the stress of worrying about getting fined or causing pollution.

Discover: How to Upcycle or Reimagine a Geometric Shelf


In a perfect world, everything would be environmentally friendly. Right now, though, we still have to use a lot of hazardous things. You can still be a DIY-er for your home projects or use those essential items without feeling guilty.

Now that you know how to dispose of them properly, that household trash will go where it can be handled with care!