Best to take old paint to the local recycling center for safe and legal disposal.
Painters in Kansas City – whether DIY painters or pro’s – all have the same challenge at the end of a job: how to get rid of old or leftover paint. There are the environmentally responsible options and then the legally questionable options. Let’s take a look at both.
A certain environmental agency may construe your donation to be disposal and suddenly your kind gesture is seen as dumping rather than donation
It’s never a bad idea to hang on to a small amount of your current paint color. Just an easy and quick way to cover dents and dings from everyday usage. But any quantities beyond a gallon or two present a problem. You can keep it in your basement, yes – but sooner or later you’ll have to deal with it. Sooner is always better.
Get Rid of the Rest
The best way to dispose of old paint is to take the paint to a city or county recycling center. Whether oil or latex paint, stain, varnish, etc., you’ll avoid any legal liability or environmental consequences. After that, you’re looking at the Less Than Ideal Solutions.
- Give leftover paint to a friend or relative to paint a dog house, treehouse or dollhouse. But best to not donate it to a theater group, scout troop, etc. A certain environmental agency may construe your donation to be disposal and suddenly your kind gesture is seen as dumping rather than donation. should be mixed and poured onto a cookie sheet (or similar) so it can dry. If you leave it in the can it will skin over leaving liquid under the dried layer – so no one will take it. I’ve heard of people pouring oil paint on old carpet to dry and then disposing of the carpet. Perfectly legal, if not a bit improvised.
- For latex paint you can mix in kitty litter right in the paint can – it absorbs the liquid and dries pretty quickly. Then dispose with household trash when dry.
Whatever you do, don’t dispose of old paint down the drain, in a vacant lot or anywhere else that you know just isn’t right. If you get cought at the time you’ll be in a big pile of trouble. If it is traced back to you after the fact you’ll be on the evening news.
Follow these rules for the proper disposal of paint thinner to keep your family and the planet safe from harm.
Composed of mineral spirits, turpentine, and acetone or other solvents, paint thinner effectively does its job of thinning oil-based paints and cleaning tools like brushes and rollers. But if you aim to get rid of unused paint thinner once a project is complete, be sure to do so correctly. Tossing it in the trash is a serious fire hazard because paint thinner’s flash point—the temperature at which it can catch fire—is only 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Pouring it down the drain is also dangerous, as it can contaminate neighborhood groundwater.
While laws, fines, and punishments—all of which vary by city and state—are in place to punish violators, proper disposal of paint thinner takes just a few precautionary measures. These steps for how to dispose of paint thinner should keep you, your neighborhood, and the planet safe.
- Glass containers with lids
- Permanent marker
- Rubber gloves
- Coffee filters
- Glass jars
- Sealable plastic bags
- See full list «
- Trash bags
- Metal paint can
- Fireproof pouch
STEP 1: Strain, seal, and save used paint thinner for reuse.
Pour the used paint thinner into a glass container (marked with the type of paint thinner and the date), seal it, and let any paint left behind from cleaning paintbrushes and rollers settle to the bottom. Store it away from heat, spark, and flame during this time. Then, the clear solvent is perfectly usable for cleaning applicators after future projects; slowly pour just the clean thinner into a new container and proceed to Step 2 for disposing of t he first container.
Of course, it can take weeks or even months for the paint to settle, so you may want to strain the gunk from the good stuff to eliminate that wait time.
To do so, put on rubber or nitrile gloves and, working in a well-ventilated space, pour the thinner through a few coffee filters into a glass jar large enough to hold all the liquid. The filters will collect the globs of paint and leave you with clean thinner. Let the coffee filters and paint globs dry out completely, then wrap them in newspaper and seal them in a plastic bag before placing them in the trash. As for the remaining thinner, seal the jar tight and label it for future use, then store it carefully away from children and pets.
STEP 2: Toss emptied containers out with household trash.
It’s not dangerous to throw an empty paint thinner container in the regular trash as long as it’s completely dry and has less than an inch of paint residue in the bottom. Otherwise…
- If the dried sludge at the bottom is thicker, dispose of it at a hazardous waste collection facility or event (see Step 3).
- If the sludge remains liquid-y, you can dry out the container of paint sludge by removing its lid and setting it outside to dry.
Alternatively, don’t bother with drying out the solvent and dispose of paint thinner according to instructions in Step 3.
STEP 3: Leftover paint thinner at a hazardous waste facility.
Find your local hazardous waste collection facility with an online search for “hazardous waste collection” along with the name of your city, and a list of local disposal centers should pop up. The US Environmental Agency even contains a database of links to programs by state, where applicable.
These places should accept completely sealed containers filled (or partially filled) with paint thinner. To be safe, though, read up on the local facility or program’s instructions so that you handle the disposal of paint thinner according to its terms.
STEP 4: Remember that household or shop rags soaked with paint thinner must also be disposed of properly at a hazardous waste facility.
There are two ways to go about preventing these flammable rags from posing a problem:
When you do any painting around the home, you can end up using oil-based paints. To keep your brushes, clean for repeat use, you’ll often use paint thinner to clean these after use.
Paint thinner, which often comprises mineral spirits, turpentine, acetone, or other solvents, effectively thins oil-based paints and cleans brushes and rollers. However, when you get rid of unused paint thinner once a project is over, you need to do it the right way.
Because of the paint thinner’s flashpoint, the temperature it can catch fire is 104 degrees Fahrenheit, so tossing it in the trash proves to be a distinct fire hazard. Pouring it down the drain is also risky since it will affect your drains, contaminate the groundwater, and harm the environment.
If you don’t look at how to dispose of mineral spirits the right way, you could face regulations, fines, and penalties. However, with all this, correct paint thinner disposal needs some basic steps to be followed. (Find the Best Waterproof Paint for Shower Walls)
Here, in our paint thinner disposal guide, you can find the right ways to dispose of paint thinners and leftover paint completely safely.
Is It OK to Dump Paint Thinner Down the Drain?
Paint thinner, sometimes known as mineral spirits, is often used to clean brushes and instruments from oil-based paints and stains. Most folks throw away the thinner after only one use, which is both wasteful and pointless.
- Soak the brushes clean next time, then leave the dirty solvent to sit overnight.
- Paint sludge and pigment solids settle to the bottom of the jar, leaving a clear thinner layer on top.
- Pour a second clean jar halfway with clear thinner and seal it for later use.
- Store your jar of paint sludge in durable containers ready for your next paint cleanup trip by sealing it and keeping it in safe storage.
- Please take it to a hazardous waste disposal site or a municipal facility to recycle.
Never pour paint sludge or solvents down the drain or into the street gutter, as these chemicals can harm the environment and cause clogs in your drains. (Read What is Enamel Paint)
Can You Throw Away Paint Thinner?
- If there is less than one inch of residue inside the container and it has dried, you can use standard household trash and your regular household waste collection facility. Leave your container with the top ajar in a well-ventilated area to help evaporation and dispose of paint thinner naturally.
- Please do not throw it away in a recycle bin.
- Take your container to a hazardous waste collection facility if there is still liquid inside or a significant amount of dry residue.
- Get rid of unneeded paint thinner by finding someone who needs unused paint thinner. It is a simpler way to get rid of paint thinner; you don’t need to reuse or recycle it.
- Take your paint thinner to a hazardous waste disposal site. Many local communities have designated drop-off locations for such hazardous products as paint and paint thinner.
- Contact your local government or use an online search engine like Earth911.com in the US or gov.uk/hazardous-waste-disposal in the UK to find facilities where this can be disposed of safely.
- Keep paint thinner or similar chemicals in a sealed metal or glass container accepted by most hazardous waste facilities. If you have a large volume of waste to dispose of, contact your local facility.
- Take your paint thinner to a hazardous waste drop-off location. Many governments host hazardous waste disposal events on an annual or semiannual basis.
Can Paint Thinner Spontaneously Combust?
Once you’ve finished painting, you may think it’s time to relax, yet you could have a fire far easier than you expect if you’ve disposed of materials soaked in paint thinner the wrong way.
Even rags containing used paint thinner, the residue of oil-based paints, and varnishes have the potential to combust and catch fire spontaneously.
The way this occurs with these materials is that as oily rags dry, they produce heat. As the used paint thinner mixes with oxygen, it turns into a combustible cloth that could be heated in your garbage can. (Learn How To Paint Over Peeling Paint)
Here’s how to avoid such household garbage fire incidents.
- Hang rags to dry in a secure, well-ventilated location outside.
- Spread rags away from each other.
- When dry completely, properly dispose of them.
- Seal oily rags in a designated container that is airtight, non-combustible, such as an old empty paint can. If Don’t use rages repeatedly, you can soak them in water and oil-degrading detergent. Then have them picked up by your local garbage collectors as a hazardous waste collection on collection day.
Oil-based paints can be thinned, and metal tools cleaned with rags soaked in mineral spirits, paint thinners, turpentine, toluene, and many more toxic chemicals.
Mineral spirits and paint thinner must be disposed of carefully. Paint thinner that is improperly disposed of can lead to pollution and possibly create fires.
How Should I Dispose of Paint Thinner?
When looking at how to dispose of used paint thinner, there are just a few things to be aware of.
To properly dispose of paint thinner, never pour it down a drain or into the trash.
Paint thinner can easily catch fire in a trash can and contaminate groundwater if poured into a drain or sink. Governments can impose fines and penalties on those who violate the proper disposal laws for paint thinner and mineral spirits (including acetone, solvents, and other toxic compounds).
We recommend disposing of paint thinner or mineral spirits by pouring leftovers into a jar. Use what’s left to clean oil-based paint from tools and brushes. Once you’ve finished cleaning up, seal the jar lid and leave your solvent to sit overnight.
When you let the solvent sit overnight, check the jar. Solid remains of pigment and paint sludge will have settled to the bottom of the jar. Sitting above this is the clear thinner you can use again. You can carefully pour the clear thinner into another container and secure the lid to store ready for use.
Save the sealed paint sludge jar and when the container is full, take it to a hazardous-waste disposal site. Following this process and properly disposing of solvents, these sludge-filled containers keep your home free from flammable materials and make things easier for recycling.
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If you are a painter, understanding how to dispose of used paint is essential. Read on for more insight on how to dispose of used paint thinner in an ideal way.
2 Effective Ways To Dispose of Used Paint Thinner
There are many ways to dispose of used paint thinner. However, two methods stand out, as will be discussed below. Depending on the land laws, you should dispose of any used substance such as paint thinner to avoid harming the environment. Keep reading to discover more information about this topic. To begin our discussion, we should try to understand the forms of paint thinners used.
- Acetone: Which is a solvent that is readily available in dealer stores. Nail polish remover is one form of acetone.
- Mineral spirits: They comprise petroleum products. Note that you can use mineral spirits in place of turpentine.
- Toluene: This is a natural solvent that can also be available in petroleum. Note that toluene is highly toxic.
- Turpentine: Our primary concern here is turpentine which is also a constituent product of petroleum used to thin paints;You can also harvest turpentine from trees.
- Piece of paper
- Glass container
- Plastic bag
1. Getting rid of Used Paint Thinner:
If you have a lot of used paint thinner and you are wondering how to get rid of it, worry no more because the steps highlighted below will guide you through the whole exercise.
Step 1 : Throw away used rags in a sealed container
It would be helpful if you considered discarding all the rags you used in your painting project. Note that the rags may contain traces of your paint thinner which catches fire quickly. If you want to bypass all these processes, consider drying your rags entirely in the sun until all the thinner is gone.
Step 2 : Separate dirt from your thinner
Once you have used your paint thinner for the first time, you may think it has lost its value. However, you can salvage your thinner, though in smaller quantities, for future use. Devise a way to separate your paint thinner from the dirt so that you can use it in your future projects.
Step 3 : Take out the thinner
- One process you can employ to separate art from your thinner is decantation. Allow the dirt to settle on the bottom of your container before pouring your thinner into another container.
- As a golden rule, always be sure to shield your hands from the harmful effects of paint thinner. Use suitable gloves preferably(rubber gloves) to prevent your hands from contacting the thinner.
Step 4 : Let the thinner dry
Place the container with used thinner in the open to dry. Ensure to carry out this process where there is a free flow of air. Because the painter catches fire quickly, ensure there are no flames nearby or anything that can cause a fire.
Step 5 : Put the dry paint thinner in a bin
Be sure to let the dirt solidify comp[letly before discarding using waste paper. If you seal the residue properly, you may then give it to waste collectors for disposal. Ensure you use plastic material if you don’t have an old magazine.
Step 6 : Dispose of empty cans
As part of conserving the environment, it would be helpful for you to consider throwing away empty cans. Not only are such cans an environmental hazard, but they can also cause forest fires if not correctly disposed of. Note that traces of paint thinner may trigger an inferno under extreme temperature, so always be cautious when disposing of them.
2. Disposing of Excess Solvents:
Disposing of your paint thinner comes in different ways; you may decide to give your used paint thinner to a friend who needs it or capitalize on the services of waste collectors for disposal. The following tips will be helpful; check them out.
Give the paint thinner away. If you are done with your painting project and feel like you might not need your excess thinner, it would be a good idea to give it to someone else who needs it. Note that this is one of the best method to get rid of excess and use paint thinner.
Consider hiring waste collectorsCapitalize on the services of the waste collector. If you are unsure of how to dispose of your paint thinner properly, it would be helpful for you to consider using the services of waste collectors to help dispose of the used thinner.
Note that disposing of used paint thinners ensures you are well protected from the harmful chemicals in thinners
Reusing Any Excess Thinner
Because measuring the exact amount needed to finish your project is complicated, it would be helpful for you to consider reusing your paint thinner if you have it in excess. Take a suitable container and store your excess thinner.
- Be sure to shield your hands from the harmful effects of turpentine by putting on protective gloves. After sealing the bottle properly, ensure you label it to avoid confusing it with another substance.
- Note that if you store it properly, it will likely save you on your subsequent painting project.
Tips Worthy of Mention
- Always purchase the correct quantity of turpentine. It would be a good idea to buy a quantity that will be just enough for your project.
- Avoid dumping your used turpentine on open ground
- As a golden rule, keep any chemicals both used and used from the reach of children and pets
- Do not store your thinner alongside your foodstuffs because you risk contaminating your foodstuffs
- Make sure to use suitable gloves, preferably to prevent your hands from coming into contact with the thinner
It is common knowledge that any used substance should be disposed of properly to avoid problems associated with harmful chemicals. Apart from keeping your workplace clean, disposing of used paint thinners ensures you are well protected from the harmful chemicals in thinners. One foolproof method you can employ to separate dirt from your thinner is decantation. Be sure to let the dirt settle on the bottom of your container before pouring your thinner into another container.
House painting can be messy. Well, it depends on the preparation you make before starting the actual paint project. That is why it is a good idea to hire a professional painter in Franklin TN who won’t leave your home a mess after a meticulous paint job.
A house painting project should be planned accordingly. This includes calculating the right amount of paint you will need to complete the painting task. However, there will be paint leftovers and thinners awaiting future use. But what if there is nothing else to use those leftover paint thinners?
Perhaps there are neighbors or other relatives who need those extra paint or paint thinners. Or in the worst-case scenarios, you would have to throw those away. But hold your horses! You cannot simply throw away paint like you throw your trash in a garbage bin. Rather, there is a proper way to dispose of paint thinner.
But first, what are paint thinners?
Paint thinners, as the name suggests, thin out oil-based paints as well as paint rollers and brushes. It is made of turpentine, acetone, mineral spirits, or other types of solvents. More often than not, you won’t have to use a lot of thinner after a paint job. There will be excess thinner that will be left. But the question is what to do with the excess?
One option, actually the last option you have, is to throw it away. However, disposing of paint thinners can be tricky. For one, paint thinners are actually fire hazards, which means you should not put them near a fire. You should also not pour it down the drain as it can flow into groundwater and contaminate it.
How to dispose of paint thinners
Did you know that you can be punished by law due to improper paint thinner disposal? You would want to avoid that, right? Here are the proper steps for disposing of paint thinner.
Both paint thinner and mineral spirits thin and clean oil-based paints. You must dispose of paint thinner and mineral spirits properly. Disposing of paint thinner improperly can cause pollution or even fires.
How Should I Dispose of Paint Thinner?
To properly dispose of paint thinner, never pour it down a drain or into the trash – not only is that against the law, but it’s also very dangerous. Experts at Bob Vila explain that this solvent has a low flash point of 104 degrees Fahrenheit, so it’s highly flammable.
Paint thinner could easily catch fire if it’s in a trash bin and contaminate groundwater if it’s poured down a gutter, sink or tub. Fines and penalties can be imposed on those who violate the proper disposal laws for paint thinner and mineral spirits (and acetone and other solvents). The specific laws vary depending on location.
The writers at This Old House recommend disposing of paint thinner or mineral spirits by pouring the leftovers into a jar and using what remains to clean oil-based paint from tools and brushes. When you have finished cleaning up, seal the jar and leave the solvent to sit out overnight.
Next Steps in the Disposal Process
After allowing the solvent to sit out overnight, you should check the jar. By the next day, the solid remains of the pigment and paint sludge should have settled to the bottom of your jar, and the clear thinner should have risen up to the top. Provided this occurred as expected, you can carefully pour the clear thinner into another clean jar and reseal it.
Save the sealed paint sludge jar if you plan to do more painting, since this will save you the trouble of keeping multiple containers around the house or in your garage. When the container is full, take it to a hazardous-waste disposal site. If you’re unsure of its location, call your local municipality’s offices; they should be able to help. Following this process and properly disposing of solvents and paints helps keep your home and neighborhood – and the planet – cleaner and safer.
Paint Thinner vs. Mineral Spirits
Both of these solvents are petroleum-based products, and, as mentioned earlier, both work the same on oil-based paints and oil-based varnishes. Paint thinners that contain other solvents, such as turpentine, toluene, methyl ethyl ketone (MEK), xylene, dimethylformamide (DMF) and naphtha, are less refined than mineral spirits. This makes them more volatile and accounts for the much stronger smell.
Another important difference is that mineral spirits only work on wet paint, while turpentine can be used on wet and dried paint. Mineral spirits also are more expensive, and you may not have to use as much of it as other paint thinners. Mineral spirits provide more even, smoother finishes and are less toxic. However, they are a mild irritant and cannot be used with latex paints. You also have to dispose of them in the same way as a paint thinner.
Mineral spirits also can remove tar, other oily substances, and assorted gunk from concrete floors, wood and metal worktops and metal tools. Paint thinners also can be used for these types of tasks, but the fumes often are pretty strong. They also are more toxic and flammable.
Paint thinner and related solvents can contaminate groundwater or cause a fire if thrown in the household trash. Most jurisdictions classify them as hazardous substances and need residents to dispose of them safely and carefully to protect the environment and themselves.
Rags soaked in paint thinner may combust in the air, causing a serious and dangerous fire. Place them in a metal container with a tight lid, fill with water and bring it to a hazardous waste collection area.
There is no need to throw out paint thinner after one use. After soaking tools or brushes, leave the paint thinner to sit in a sealed glass container. Over time, the paint and either contaminant will settle at the bottom. This can happen from a couple of days to several months depending on how dirty the paint thinner is.
Once the dirt has settles to the bottom, pour the clean top layer through coffee filters into a clean glass jar. Leave some space at the top of the new jar, seal it tightly, and label it properly.
Always wear heavy rubber gloves when handling paint thinner.
Then leave the container open and let dry in a well-ventilated area. Add sawdust or sand to speed up drying. Keep this container out of the reach of pets and children, and away from flame, heat, and flammable materials.
Once the material is completely dry and solid, wrap the paint thinner in the newspaper, then seal it in a plastic bag. You can throw it away in household trash.
You can use regular household trash if there is less than one inch (2.5 cm) of residue inside the container, and it has dried completely. Do not put them in a recycling bin.
The easiest way to get the removal of unused paint thinner is to find someone who needs it. Offer it to a friend or neighbor, or donate it to a local organization that can use it for renovation projects.
Many municipalities have permanent sites available only for drop-off of hazardous materials such as paint and paint thinner. Search for facilities in your nearby area by contacting your local government.
Paint thinner is considered hazardous waste and must be disposed of in a manner that is safe for the environment and human health. It is basically a solvent that thins oil-based paint to the desired consistency so it can be applied easily and cleaned up. In many cases, after a painting project is done, you find you have leftover paint thinner, and you may be unsure of the correct methods of disposal.
Never Dispose of Unused Paint Thinner like Ordinary Trash
Most cities have special methods of disposal for hazardous waste. If your area does not have a hazardous waste program, you must contact the local authorities for any information on the preferred method for disposal.
Never pour unused paint thinner down drains or in the regular trash. If it ends up in landfills or the water system, it will leech into our waterways, causing harm to the marine animals and polluting our water supply.
Tip: Check with your local automotive repair and service shop or gas station. They have a tank for dirty, used oil and automotive fluids and are actually paid when a reclamation company picks it up to refine into usable oil. Most would welcome the paint thinner, as it would help fill their reservoir more quickly. That is how I get rid of all my used paint thinner safely.
Purchase Only the Required Amount
If you rarely use paint thinner, never buy large quantities you will not be using. Instead, purchase small amounts only when required. Also, try to use up all the paint thinner you have for a given project by applying additional coats of paint or by painting some small objects that need retouching. If you have still have some unused material remaining, you can give it to a friend or neighbor who plans to undertake a painting project.
Reuse Excess Paint Thinner
You can store used paint thinner and reuse it in your next painting project if you do end up having a lot left over. Wear gloves to protect your hands, and pour the used paint thinner in a glass bottle or container, closing the lid tightly. To prevent someone else from mistaking the paint thinner for something else, label it appropriately. After a few months, the paint particles will settle to the bottom leaving clear thinner on the top.
You can pour out this liquid and use it in your next painting project. Avoid pouring the paint thinner into a container that was previously used to hold edible substances, as this may interfere with the integrity of the chemical.
Dispose of the Paint Sludge
After you recover the clear paint thinner, you will be left with some colored sludge in the bottom of the container. This sludge must be disposed of in accordance with the hazardous waste disposal guidelines in your area. Call the disposal helpline and arrange for drop-off or pickup of the waste matter. If you do not have arrangements for hazardous waste disposal in your area, you can leave the sludge open in a well-ventilated area.
It will dry completely after some time, and then you can dispose of the dry remnant in the garbage can. You must, however, contact your local authorities and ensure that this is acceptable. You could also try and accelerate the drying process by adding sand or cat litter to the sludge. Dry waste is easier and environmentally better to dispose of than wet waste.
Edward Kimble, a professional painter and the author of Interior House Painting Blog, contributed to this article.