Discarding Unused Latex Paint

Good morning to you!  I hope you had a great holiday weekend (for my friends here in the U.S.)!  Mine ended up being very different than planned.  No cabinets…yet.  I explained my predicament on the A2D Facebook Page.  Sorry if you came here today hoping to see cabinets!  Hopefully there will be some progress in that department soon.

Anyway, when I was in Home Depot the other day, I came across a product that I had never seen before.  I’m not sure if it’s new, or if I’ve just not been observant, but I was glad to find it!

As you know (hopefully), you can’t just discard unused latex paint in the garbage.  If there’s not much left in the can, you can just leave the can open until it dries completely, and then throw it away.  Of course, if there is a considerable amount of paint left, and it’s in good condition, you can always donate the paint to places like ReStore.  And then there are recycle centers, but some communities only offer paint recycling once or twice per year.

But what if you have a can of paint that’s still pretty full, but it’s old and goopy, so it would be useful to nobody?

discarding unused paint 1

Well, that’s where this little product comes in, and it just so happens that I have a few partial gallons of old, goopy paint that need to be discarded.

discarding unused paint 2

This paint was definitely old and way too thick to be used anymore.  But I still had at least 1/3 of a gallon left, so the leaving-the-can-open-until-it’s-dry technique would have taken forever.  That’s certainly not practical.

discarding unused paint 3

So, I bought the paint hardener, and added it to the leftover paint.

discarding unused paint 4

And then stirred it thoroughly.  I could already feel the paint hardening as I was stirring.

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I let it sit for about 15 minutes, and when I came back, the paint felt spongy but very hard.

discarding unused paint 6

I let it sit for about five more minutes, and when I came back, it was one big solid mass at the bottom of the can.

discarding unused paint 7

It was then safe to throw away!

So what do you do with your leftover latex paint?  Take it for recycle?  Leave it out to dry and the throw it away?  Donate it?  Or perhaps you’ve used this paint hardener before.  I’m so curious to know if it’s new or not.  I wish I had known about it years ago!



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  1. Someone once told me that mixing kitty litter with old paint will also absorb the moisture.

    It makes sense, but I haven't tried it (no cats in this house).

  2. Huh. Who knew? That's pretty neat! Thanks for sharing, I'm gonna share this on my FB page. 🙂

  3. Hi Kristi,
    I have used the paint hardener – it does work great – and the best part is that it is really cheap – I think I paid between $1 -$2 for one packet.  I was surprised to find that I had actually used this product long ago for another purpose! I am a nurse, and years ago (1980s) we used the same product to harden suctioned stomach fluids prior to disposing – this was a requirement by the state.  (Gross huh?) 

  4. I had never thought of that!  I imagine it would work, but it would be considerably more expensive than these little packets, which cost about $1.35 each.

  5. Zoe, thanks for that tip!  I never would have thought to donate unused, usable paint to a theater group.  Your backdrop is fantastic!!!

  6. We use kitty litter to harden up our left over paint. I just bought the least expensive brand on the shelf and dried up all the paint the previous home owners left behind. We were changing colors and didn't need the shelf upon shelf of paint cans.

  7. Amazing post, informative blog…Thanks for share…
    i have grate ideas about home products and you will find there more other things which relates to you.

  8. That's interesting!  We have hazardous material pickup twice a year, and we don't do enough projects *yet!* that have had left over paint.  Good to know though!

  9. We usually wait for the twice a year bit, but I am starting to get quite a pile.  Thanks for the tip!

  10. You also donate your leftover paint
    to ReStores, Habitat for Humanity, or post it on Craig's List for free. You
    could also offer the leftover paint to friends or neighbors. If you can't get
    rid of it that way, try mixing it with sawdust. My husband uses old saw dust
    instead of purchasing anything and it works great. Good luck!

  11. Hey, nice article here. Good to see somebody taking responsibility for their waste paint material! I am a painter and decorator and have seen people sneak half empty tins into their trash collection which is obviously not very good for the environment.

    Another, cheaper option is to use powder filler to solidify water/latex/acrylic paints. It works in the same way but is not as expensive as solidifier.