Project Guide

Paint Disposal and Storage

Difficulty: BeginnerTime: Over 1 Day Print

Storing leftover paint is a good idea for several reasons. You can use it to touch up scuffs and scratches, or paint new accents in the future. And most of all, you can save money in the long run.

The tips in this guide will help you keep your leftover paint for years to come. In case your paint simply isn’t usable any more, you’ll learn how to properly dispose of it. Practice lead paint safety. If the house or surface you’re painting was built before 1978, see EPA’s renovation, repair and painting program for guidelines.


  • Claw Hammers
  • Cotton Swab
  • Microfiber Cloths
  • Paint Buckets & Lids
  • Pens, Pencils, Markers


  • Lumber
  • Paint Colors

1. Transfer Paint to Smaller Can

If there is less than 1 quart of paint left, transfer it to a clean, empty quart can.

2. Remove Paint from Rim

If you are keeping the original can, wipe up paint inside the rim with a small screwdriver wrapped in cloth.

3. Tap Lid Until Secure

Tap the lid down evenly with a block of wood and a hammer.

4. Apply Dab of Paint onto Lid

Paint a dab of leftover paint on the lid with a cotton swab. This will help identify the color.

5. Write Key Information on Lid

Use a permanent marker to write important information such as dates, color and the room in which the paint was used.

Paint disposal tips:

  • It’s against the law to toss out liquid paints and solvents with the trash. You’ll need to consider other options. Leftover paint is almost always welcome at nonprofit organizations or charities.
  • Otherwise, the paint will need to be evaporated and solidified before collection by your local waste management authority. Call 1-800-CLEANUP for information on disposal regulations.
  • To speed up the paint’s solidification, find an open area where it can dry out.
  • Adding hardener, vermiculite or cat litter to the cans is perfectly acceptable.

Ready to find the supplies you need in your local store? Use The Home Depot app to locate products and check inventory. We’ll take you to the exact aisle and bay.