How Can I Get Rid Of My Old Paint In The Garage?

How can I get rid of my old paint in the garage?  This is a great question I have answered before however with not a lot of in-depth information.  This time I will delve deeper into this answer.

Preface:  To start with there are some tall tales that are a myth about preserving the leftover paint.

1. When you have, let us say, half of a gallon of paint left over and want to store it for some extended period of time, you just put the lid on tight and turn the paint can upside down.

That doesn’t work.  The reason is that when you closed the lid you also trapped in oxygen inside the empty space of the can.  Then when you turned the can upside down the oxygen is still trapped in that container and oxygen starts to dry the paint.  A year later when you go to use the paint for touch up, the paint is lumpy or dried.  Rendered unusable.

2. When you have leftover paint that you have had in a roller pan a roller, in a brush and a paint bucket all of which you have scraped or pored back into the original paint can.  You have just contaminated the can of paint that you will want to use at a later time.

With the closed lid, half full of contaminated paint and the empty part is filled with OXYGEN.  This becomes a concoction that will mildew rapidly.  Because where do you think you are going to store this vile can … IN THE HOT GARAGE.  The perfect storm becomes an incredible smelly touch-up paint in the future.

You see, the use of the brush, roller, buckets and roller pan all contain some sort of bacteria that you have picked up from the surfaces you were painting. Then you put the leftover paint back into the original paint can and stored in the hot garage which causes rapid mildew growth at a rate that has been explained to me, with spore growth that is countless.

One caveat to this dissertation is you can pour into the leftover paint a couple of tablespoons of bleach that will prevent the spores from growing.  This process will not cause any harm to the paint.  Furthermore, if you discover that a can of paint you were going to use for touchup is very smelly and moldy after the fact, you can put a few tablespoons of bleach in the leftover smelly paint then stir it up and let stand for a day.  At least the paint will not smell when applied again.

I have been an expert witness for paint disputes for years and one case was that a large bank lobby was painted with leftover paint from a larger contractor paint job.  The contractor was trying to cut corners and use leftover paint from a previous large paint job.  The paint from that job was poured back into buckets each day for a week.  Then the paint was stored in a hot warehouse for a few weeks and then used on the new bank lobby.

Because of the new construction of the bank lobby the fresh air was masking the mildew smell each day.  However the next week the lobby was reopened and the enclosed air system caused the mildew to become obnoxious.  The bank called me to evaluate the situation and when I discovered in the storeroom a touchup can leftover from the paint job that the touchup paint was contaminated with mold and mildew.  This contaminated paint was spread thinly over the whole surface and the smell wasn’t going away.

The job needed to be repainted however it was necessary to mix in bleach with the new coating to combat the mold on the existing sub straight.

NOW TO ANSWER THE ORIGINAL QUESTION!  Leftover paint can be thrown away however it needs to be DRY before doing so.

This is what you can do.

  • You can pour the wet paint on lots of newspaper and let dry, then throw in the trash.
  • You can mix in cat litter and spread out on newspaper, let dry and then throw in the trash.
  • You can buy in most paint stores an additive that hardens latex paint and then you can throw into the trash.

  • Oil-based paint will take longer to solidify or dry, the newspaper can be used then throw into the trash.

The most important factor about throwing paint away is that it needs to be DRY.  No liquid vehicle should be remaining.

NOTE!  If for some reason you have some paint that you want to dispose of that was made prior to 1978 you need to be very careful.  That paint may contain lead.  Lead is something we do not want in the landfills.  If this is the case you will need to contact a ‘Lead Abatement Contractor’ to dispose of this product.

If you suspect Lead, contact the EPA’s website for instructions.  Environmental Protection Agency

I hope this answers your question!

Why is my new enamel paint not sticking?

Why is my new enamel paint not sticking?

Even the best water base enamels today may not stick … “Right Away”.  Because there is a big difference between the condition of drying and curing.

Water base enamels may dry within an hour however it may take thirty days to fully cure.

Let’s take an example:  Painting kitchen cabinets.  You may clean, sand and prime the cabinets and then apply the water-based enamel to the shelves and cupboard doors and in six to eight hours the paint may scratch off.

Here is what is going on!  First, in kitchens and bathrooms, there is very little air circulation.  What makes things worse is sometimes you have taped off windows and doors with plastic for their protection.  This adds to the poor air circulation.

Second, you may have just applied the water base enamel without doing any prep even as little as washing with TSP and rinsing.

Answers:  Water base enamel needs to be prepped efficiently enough to STICK.  That means cleaning the surface, sanding if necessary for an uneven substrate, and possibly priming with a GOOD undercoating paint, appropriate for water base enamel.  With all that accomplished, paint with your water base enamel and after the paint has dried, about one hour, use a circulating fan in the room to accelerate the curing time for proper adhesion.

If you must close the cupboard doors before twenty-four hours use a little ‘Vaseline’ on the door stops.  This will dissipate later without removing it.

PS:  Heating a room to accelerate the drying of water-based enamel doesn’t help and sometimes will create humidity that will slow the curing time.  Proper circulation with a fan will work the best.

Hope this will help you understand water base enamel.  Many times a company selling a good quality water based enamel will get a ‘Bad Rap” for poor paint performance when it is a poor understanding of the proper preparation techniques and curing times.  I sometimes fault the paint companies for not properly explaining this potential adhesion problem to their customers.

Please let me know if you have any paint questions or paint related questions.  Just use the ‘Contact Me’ page to send direct questions to be answered.


How long does it take for paint to dry and cure?

Water-based paint:  Dry time one to two hours and Cure time thirty days.

Oil base paint:  Dry time four to eight hours and Cure time twenty days.

Milk paint and Chalk paint (calcium carbonate):  Dry time thirty minutes and Cure time thirty days.

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