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How to Organize, Store and Dispose of Paint


Disposing of old paint can seem overwhelming and a bit messy.  We have tips and tricks for you on how to store extra paint and safely dispose of all your old cans.

Paint Disposal

Paint, paint go away! Trust me, even as a painting company sometimes we say this. We try our very best on every project to buy only the paint needed and efficiently budget our client’s money; however, sometimes there is a half gallon here or a partial quart there that gets left over and over time it will build up at our office until we are forced to purge.

So the real question is, how do you organize and store your extra paint and if you need to dispose of paint, how?  We have a few quick organization strategies for you and some simple guidelines for disposal.

Organizing Extra Paint

Organizing and storing paint is critical if you want to effectively find and re-use the paint in the future.  Follow these simple suggestions to cut down on the clutter and safely store your paint.

Print an Extra Label

If you want to go the easy route and store paint in the container you purchased it in, consider asking your paint store to print you an extra label for your color choice.  Save this sticker until you are finished with your painting project and then adhere it on the outside of your paint container.  Likely your initial color label will peel off, get painted over, or become unreadable after you begin your project so an extra sticker to apply at the time of storage will make for easy reading in the future.

  •  NOTE: always, always, always put your labels on the container itself and not the lid.  Unless you are using significantly different colors throughout your home, if you take too many lids off at one time it can become a puzzle to determine which lid goes back to which container.
  • NOTE #2: Typically your paint store is able to customize your labels so it might be wise to have them add the name of the room you will be applying your paint to so you will know in the future exactly what color the paint is and exactly which space it was used in.

Quart Size Containers

Consider purchasing empty quart size containers at your local hardware/home improvement store.  Generally located in every paint department you can find empty gallon and quart containers (with lids) for just a few bucks.  Then either label your quart container with a permanent marker (to include: paint brand, paint color, sheen, and location for use) OR get one of those extra stickers printed up like we mentioned before.  We suggest the quart size container because it saves on space and generally, if purchase amounts were appropriate, you shouldn’t have much more than this left over at the conclusion of any project.

Climate Controlled Space

Finally, consider your storage process for extra paint and carefully monitor the climate of your space.  In most residential projects you are going to be choosing a latex based paint.  What this means is your paint is water based.  Water freezes, thus your paint will freeze in cold environments.  It is always an option to thaw out paint, give it a good shake (a real shake at the paint store) and see if it reverts back to acceptable use; however, why risk it? NDP would not try and re-apply paint that has changed consistencies and then needed thawed back out).  A nice rule of thumb would be to store your paint at the same temperature in which you would apply it.  A basement, closet or climate controlled shed would be your best options and certainly preferred over a backyard shed or unheated garage.

Disposing Old Paint

So you have used up all your remaining paint (and/or are just sick of all of the cans), how do you get rid of it?  You have 2 scenarios to consider.

  1. Latex (or water-based) paint is not considered an environmental hazard as long as it is properly dried out. Grab some cheap cat litter from your local store, pour it in your paint cans and let them thoroughly dry out.  A nice sunny day with the lid off will make this process super speedy.  Once it is all dried out leave the lid off and put it out with your weekly trash pick up.
  2. Contact your local waste management company for the disposal of all other paints and stains.  Oil based paint, spray paints, and stains cannot be thrown away in your weekly trash. There are often monthly drop off times or set weekly schedules where you are able take these hazardous items for safe disposal. One option here in Columbus for help in safe disposal is SWACO.  There procedures and available hours can be found at

Taking the time to efficiently store paint and following simple disposal guidelines will keep all of us (and our Earth) organized and clean!

NDP Paint Disposal

No Drip Painting offers free paint disposal to all residential clients. And not just disposal of gallons and buckets from the project we complete for you, but any and all old paint you have from years of at-home projects. You wouldn’t believe the amount of paint we have taken from some homes-it can be upwards of 25-30 left over partial containers of colors that aren’t even made anymore, lines of paint that have been discontinued, and products that are completely dried up and unusable. We are happy to help you clean up your storage space and safely dispose of paint and cans. Visit us today at


Happy Painting!



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