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Brush & Roll Painting Learning Center


Leftover Paint Cans: How to Store, Dispose and Use

Leftover Paint Cans: How to Store, Dispose and Use

Do you have plenty of leftover paint from a project? Is it an old color or too much paint that you don’t know what to do with it? Don’t toss it out just yet. 

In this article, we will tell you how to store paint and 5 ways that paint can be used or how it can be disposed of. By reading this, you might have a new idea of what to do with the leftover paint.

Brush & Roll Painting has completed painting projects for thousands of homes across the Omaha metro area since 1996. We take pride in the high-quality paint products that we use and our thorough prep work process that leaves homeowners with durable, lasting paint. 


How to Store Paint

Paint is best stored in cool, dry places away from sunlight. Although it is common, storing paint in a garage is not a good idea. Garages can get too warm or too cold, hold humidity, and be exposed to sunlight often. Paint can become unusable when it has been frozen or too warm.

Instead, keeping the cans in a storage closet or in a basement is the best way to help them last.

Be sure the lid is sealed completely to prevent the paint from drying out or spilling. You can also wrap the lid in plastic to ensure protection.

Previously opened paint cans can be stored for up to 5 years. If they are unopened, they can be stored for up to 10 years. 

What to do with leftover paint

1. Save it 

If you just had a project finished with the same color paint, save the paint for future touch-ups and color matching. If you have extra gallons left over, saving them for a future project might save you a trip to the paint store, or help reduce the cost if you hire a painting contractor to do the work.

It is also helpful to save the can so that if you wanted to use a different color and like the product, you’ll know the best one to get.

2. Use it as a base coat or primer

An older color can be used as a base coat or a primer for a new painting project if it is a nice transition color before the new one. 

It is important to remember that high-quality products will give you the best results. High-quality products have better adhesion and durability. Some even come with a primer included. 

3. Paint something else

If you have too much leftover paint and love the color, there are endless options for what you can paint! You can maximize the amount you spent on the paint by using it as much as possible. 

You can paint an accent wall, door, door frames, dresser drawer fronts, or trim with a little amount of paint. Repainting wood furniture can bring it back to life as well. 

4. Donate it

You never know which place is looking to refresh a space with a coat of paint. 

You can reach out to local organizations to ask if they will accept paint as a donation, like Habitat for Humanity. It might also be beneficial to call local school drama departments to see if they need any paint for their set designs.

If those options do not work, check to see if anybody else locally is looking for paint. You can look on the Facebook marketplace or buy/sell groups and visit https://freecycle.org for people in your area that might be looking for paint. 

5. Recycle it

Double-check what kind of paint you have to ensure it can be safely recycled. Latex paints are safe for recycling. Oil-based paints are not allowed to be recycled.

If your paint is safe for recycling, find a local hazardous waste center to take the paint cans. 

6. Dispose of it

If none of the above options will work for you or the paint is expired, you can still properly dispose of it through your local trash collectors. 

If it is dried out it can just be thrown away directly. Make sure the lid is still properly sealed to the can.

If it is not dried out, you can mix cat litter, old newspapers, or Rock Hard putty to harden the paint. After it has dried and the lid is sealed, the paint can be thrown out safely.

Another option is if you have old plywood that needs to be thrown away or you just have some laying around, paint can be rolled out on it in a few coats to empty the can. 

Next Steps

Leftover paint doesn’t have to sit in storage for far too many years. Hopefully, the ideas we have given will inspire you on how to use your leftover paint.

If there is too much leftover paint, it can be used as a primer, you can paint something else, donate it, recycle it, or properly dispose of it. 

At Brush & Roll Painting we know home painting is a serious investment and take pride in the high-quality paint products that we use and our thorough prep work process. 


Next, learn about the differences between low-quality and high-quality paint. This will tell you why it might be best to get rid of old low-quality paint and recoat with durable high-quality paint.