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How to Dispose of Latex Paint

Home >> Household Hazardous Waste >> How to Dispose of Latex Paint

Learn to harden latex paint for disposal in this brief video Youtube.
how to dispose of latex paint

Latex paint and stain recycling

Unwanted latex paint and water-based stains and clear finishes can now be recycled at any Take it Back Network paint recycling location.

A recycling fee will be charged for this service. The paint will be sorted, screened and filtered to ensure that it meets strict quality standards. It is then mixed with similar paint colors and tinted to create a recycled paint product. All paint cans are crushed and sent to recycling facilities.

The hazardous waste locations DO NOT accept latex paint. If it is not possible to bring your latex paint and water-based stains to a recycling location, latex paint and stains may be put in the garbage for disposal if they have been dried out or solidified first. Dumped illegally, liquid latex paint can be a hazard by plugging or damaging septic fields, overloading sewage treatment plants and creating environmental hazards on the ground.

Dispose of latex paint

Learn to harden latex paint for disposal in this brief video Youtube.

Residents should be using one of the following methods to dry out latex paint and stains. Once the latex paint has hardened or solidified, place the can with the lid off in your garbage container. The garbage hauler needs to see that the paint has been solidified.

  • Air:
    • Remove the lid and let the paint dry out in the can
    • Protect from freezing and rain as well as curious children and animals
    • This only works when an inch or less of paint is left in the can and is most effective in the warmer months.
  • Cat litter:
    • Mix latex paint with an equal amount of clay-based cat litter
    • Stir in completely and let the paint dry. It takes about 10 minutes for the cat litter to harden.
    • Add more cat litter if the paint is soft or runny after 10 minutes. Repeat until the material is very thick.
    • Sawdust, dirt, and shredded paper can be tried as alternatives to cat litter.
    • If there is not enough room in the paint can to stir in enough cat litter to dry it all out, pour off paint into any plastic or cardboard container that is large enough to hold the material, including a yogurt container, plastic tub, shoebox, or other convenient container.
  • Paint hardener:
    • Mix latex paint or stain with commercial paint hardener according to the directions.
    • At the end of that time, paint will have a tacky, oatmeal-like consistency that will not spill out.
  • Other ideas of using up latex paint or stains:
    • Use the paint when painting a garage, dog house or use as a primer coat for another painting project.
    • Donate excess paint to a school, theater group or non-profit agency.

Be sure it's latex paint or stain! Look on the label for the word "latex," or for directions to clean up or thin with water.

Oil-based paint

Oil-based paint, solvents and other hazardous products are NOT ACCEPTED at Take It Back Network paint recycling locations. Oil-based paint is hazardous and must be disposed of at one of our household hazardous waste collection sites  Businesses in King County can find disposal information for oil-based paint by calling 206-263-8899 or visiting the Business Hazardous Waste webpage.

Paint Calculator

Know how much paint you need before you go to the paintstore. Painting projects require about one gallon of paint to cover 400 square feet of smooth surface. You can save money and avoid waste by getting the right amount of paint for your project.

Room Calculator

Use this calculator to find how much paint you need for a RECTANGULAR room. Enter the height of the room and the lengths of the shorter and longer walls. Click Calculate to see how much paint to buy.

Wall height (in feet):

Length of longer wall (in feet):

Length of shorter wall (in feet):

Include the ceiling too?

Number of windows in the room
Number of doors in the room

Square feet of surface:

Gallons of paint needed:

Project Calculator

Use this calculator to find how much paint you need for an entire project. One by one, enter the height and length of the surfaces you want to paint. Click the Add to Project button after you enter the dimensions of each surface. The calculator keeps a running total of the surface area for your entire project.

Surface height (in feet):

Surface length (in feet):

Number of windows in this surface
Number of doors in this surface

Square feet of surface:

Gallons of paint needed:

NOTE: A rough-textured surface will require more paint than a smooth surface, so if you're on the margin, you may want to buy more.