Disposing of Special Items: Paint

Leftover paint cannot be discarded with your trash because it is a liquid. Texas law bans paint and any other free liquids from all solid waste landfills in Texas.

Disposing of unwanted paint...

...Use it. The easiest way to dispose of leftover paint is to use it all up. Apply a second coat, touch up areas or paint a closet or a small object.

...Give it away. If it can't be used, find someone who can - a neighbor, theater group or 
community organization. Set it out at a garage sale with a "Free" sign. Just make sure the paint is in its original container with its label intact.

...Dry it out. Liquid paint may be solidified and then disposed of with the household trash. Be sure to leave the lid off the can so that solid waste employees can see that the paint is hardened.

Latex Paint: 
May be disposed if it is allowed to dry. Remove the lid and place the can in an area away from children and animals. Occasionally break the "skin" that forms on the top as it dries. Or stir in enough plaster of paris, cat litter or oil absorbent to harden the paint. Latex paint may also be dried by pouring a little at a time into a cardboard box filled with layers of newspaper, sawdust or cat litter. When dry, the box and empty can may be disposed in the trash.

Oil Based Paints:
In small amounts (one inch or less) may be hardened. Mix sawdust or cat litter into paint and allow to air dry in a well-ventilated area. Once paint is dried and hardened, wrap paint can in several layers of newspaper and dispose in the trash. Oil-based paints include enamel, varnish, shellac, lacquer, stain and sealer.

Aerosol Paints:
Outdoors, spray the contents of the can into a cardboard box and let dry. Be sure to stay away from hot surfaces, open flames, flower and vegetable gardens. Do not inhale the vapors. Discard the dried painted box and empty can in the trash.

Such as paint thinner, turpentine and mineral spirits should never be poured down a drain or storm sewer. Let these products sit in a closed container until the paint particles settle out. Then pour off the clear liquid which can be reused. Add sawdust or cat litter to the residue. Let it dry completely before disposing in the trash.