Latex Paint Disposal

Why can’t I bring my latex paint to the Household Hazardous Waste Facility?

Today’s latex (water-based) paint has a very low level of toxicity and is not considered household hazardous waste. Disposing of it at as household hazardous waste is very expensive. Therefore, we ask people with unwanted latex paint to use the following options to dispose of it.

How do I know if my paint is latex?

Look for Key Words: if your paint is latex, it will have the words “latex”,  “water based”,  or “acrylic” on the can. Non-latex paint will say “oil based” or “alkyd.”

Check Clean-up Instructions: if you can’t find the words “latex”, “water-based” or “acrylic”,  check the label for clean-up instructions. Latex paint cleans up with soap and water. Oil-based paint requires cleanup with paint thinner, turpentine, mineral spirits, or solvent.

What if I still cannot tell if it is latex?

If you cannot read the label, assume the paint is oil-based and bring it to a Household Hazardous Waste collection.

How do I dispose of unwanted latex paint?

Latex paint is not accepted at the District’s  Household Hazardous Waste Facility, but you can safely and easily dispose of it yourself. LIQUID latex paint cannot be thrown away. However, dried latex paint can be thrown away in your regular trash.  Dry it out using the following techniques.

  • Once dried, latex paint and cans may be discarded with your regular trash. Leave lid off can so waste collector can see paint is hardened.
  • If the paint can is less than 1/4 full, harden the remaining paint using an absorbent material such as kitty litter, shredded paper, sand or sawdust.
  • If very little paint remains, remove the lid and allow the paint to air dry.
  • For larger quantities of paint, line a cardboard box with  a heavy duty plastic trash bag and fill with a thin layer of paint (about 1 inch deep). Add kitty litter, sand, saw dust or shredded paper and allow paint to harden. Repeat this process one layer at a time until all of the paint has hardened.
  • You can also purchase a commercial waste paint hardener at your local home improvement store to help dry latex paint.