Cheapest Way to Harden Paint for Disposal

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Many garages and basements across the country have a collection of unwanted cans of paint. The problem is that paint cannot be thrown out with the trash unless it is dried, as wet paint is considered a hazardous material. Leaving the lids off of the cans to let them air dry is not an option for people with small children and pets. The contents can actually take years to fully dry. Thankfully, there are ways to expedite the hardening of paint for disposal that are economical.


For Small Amounts

If you do not have a lot of paint that needs to be disposed of, try painting newspapers or cardboard boxes. This will make the paint dry quickly and cost you nothing. Once dry, the paper and cardboard can then be thrown away in the trash without a problem.


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For Large Amounts

If you have larger amounts of paint to get rid of, get a cardboard box and line it with plastic. A large trash bag would work well for this task. Pour half an inch to one inches of paint into the lined cardboard box. By spreading the paint out into thin layers it will dry faster. Once the first layer is completely dry, you can then add additional layers on top of it to dry in the same manner.


Westchester County, New York tells visitors to their website that mixing kitty litter or other absorbent materials such as sawdust or sand in with the paint will expedite the hardening process. The more absorbent the product you add, the faster the paint will dry. The State of Oregon Department of Environmental Quality recommends adding small amounts of the litter at a time and mixing it in every 10 minutes until the paint is hard enough.


Once the paint is solidified and no longer able to spill out of the can, it can be closed and disposed of. This is an inexpensive way to get the job done.

Commercial paint hardening products are also available, and some can be inexpensive. Simply mix the product into the can of paint according to package instructions. The paint should then dry out and be suitable to throw in the trash.



The State of Colorado recommends donating unused paint to non-profit organizations that may find it useful in civic beautification or helping low income or senior citizens with home beautification projects. Not only is this a free method of getting rid of the paint, but you may actually be able to make money by getting a tax deduction.