How to Dispose of Acrylic Paint

There are various reasons why you might use acrylic paint. Maybe to paint your house or a room or just paint generally. Chances are you might have leftovers from the one you used. Since acrylic is a form of plastic, it is vital to know how we dispose of it properly.

How Can I Safely Dispose of My Leftover Acrylic Paint?

Safe Disposal of Acrylic Paint

Pouring acrylic paint down the drain or sink is the easy option that many people prefer. However, this disposal method is not environmentally friendly as acrylic paint contains a type of plastic that contaminates water, endangering the lives of people and animals.

If you’re environmentally conscious or want to stay on the law’s good side, we’ve put together a list of safe and appropriate ways to get rid of your acrylic paint efficiently.

Dump Non-Toxic Acrylic Paint in the Trash

You don’t want to throw out acrylic paint while it’s still liquid. If you do, the paint could leak. That can harm the environment or local animals, even when the paint is not toxic.

The first step to disposing of the paint is leaving it to harden in the can. This method is especially recommended if the amount of paint that remains in the can is small.

Take the lid of the can of remaining paint and leave the can in a well-ventilated place where it is protected from water. Leave the can there for as long as it needs till it’s completely solid. Depending on the environment and situation, this can take two to three weeks or less.

If you want it to harden quickly, consider adding something that acts as a thickener to make it really thick so it gets hard in a short time. You can use sand, paint hardener, or cat litter as a good thickener.

Once the paint becomes completely hard, you can throw it out in your regular trash. If you let it harden in the can, put a long, strong stick through the hardened paint and bring it out of the can. Then throw the hardened paint into your trash can or local dump, depending on which is available. If you thickened the paint with anything, scoop the mixture out and throw it away as well.

Allow the paint can to completely dry after removing the acrylic paint.After that, either bring it to a recycling collection point or throw it out with your other trash. Remember that the majority of garbage management businesses only take cans that are 5 gallons (19 L) or smaller in volume.

The can doesn’t need to be washed out; it only needs to be empty and dry.

There are many ways you can dispose of paint cans. Check our article on How to Dispose of Paint Cans to learn more.

Donate Excess Paint 

When using acyclic paint, it is best that you buy what’ll just be enough for you so that you don’t have to stress yourself looking for how to dispose of it. Also, you can keep leftovers somewhere safe to use them another time if the need arises. Paint left with the lid on lasts for a long time, so you don’t have to worry about your paint getting spoilt.

You can donate it to schools for their art projects, non-governmental organizations, or after-school clubs for their activities. You can also ask your friends or small groups around you whether they might need some paint. You’ll find someone willing to take the paint off your hands.

Note that for you to donate paint, there should be a reasonable amount inside that someone else can use or add to an existing one.

Take Toxic Acrylic Paint to a Local Hazardous Waste Facility

Ensure that the container lids are securely fastened before transporting hazardous acrylic paint. It’s important to double-check since you want to minimize the possibility of spills or leaks.

Bring the paint to the hazardous waste facility in your neighborhood after the lids are firmly in place. The neighborhood dump serves as the usual drop-off location. You’ll want to quickly check the internet to find the location, as some communities keep these separate.

Alternatively, you might hold off until a nearby hazardous waste drop-off event. These occasions, which are frequently held by towns once or twice a year, make it simple for local residents to turn in potentially hazardous items for proper disposal.

Inform the staff at the facility that handles hazardous garbage exactly what is in the containers when you arrive. Explain that the containers carry harmful substances to ensure that they are handled properly once you send them off.

SEE: How to Dispose of Spray Paint

Recycle Water-Based Acrylic Paint

All paint may be recycled, particularly water-based paints like acrylics. The most commonly recycled kind of paint is acrylic.

First, keep your water-based paint away from combustible items in a cool, dry location. Your top objective is to keep a fire hazard at bay. When opening a can, be sure to seal the opening completely. Normally, the lid of the paint can be reattached.

Many communities provide particular programs or events for the disposal of latex or water-based paint. You can search online or visit Earth911 to confirm if acrylic paints are recycled in your city.

Getting Rid Of Acrylic Paint Water

Another frequent question is how to get rid of acrylic paint water. This is the water you get from washing your paint brushes or rollers. People make the mistake of just washing it down the drain. This is wrong because it gets into the water system and can clog your pipes.

To get rid of your acrylic paint water, you can simply wash all the water in a bowl, fill another bucket with sand or cat litter, and pour your paint water into this bucket. Leave it there for a while, then scoop the mixture into a trash bag and throw it away.

Another alternative is to get the bowl of water where the brushes and rollers have already been washed. Cover the container with a fine-mesh wire cover. Set the container in a safe, well-ventilated place. Allow the water to evaporate and the paint residue to dry.

Then, remove the dried paint and dispose of it properly. If it’s toxic, bring it to your hazardous waste facility. If it’s non-toxic, throw it out in the trash.

Other Tips and Precautions

Acrylic Paint Garbage
  1. Not only should you dispose of acrylic paint properly, but disposing of the tins or cans is also very important. Not disposing of your tins properly could cause harm as well.
  2. Do not pour your paint or paint water down the drain or any water system. It might seem like the easiest way to get rid of it, but it has a lot of dangers.
  3. Acrylic paint can last for a very long time as long as you keep it in a cool, dry place and keep it sealed. So, you can keep your leftover paint in case you need it.
  1. When disposing of paint, make sure to keep it away from animals, pets, and little kids.
  2. Store it away from fire and other combustibles.

SEE: How to Dispose of Paint Thinner

Why is Acrylic Paint Hazardous to the Environment?

Water-based acrylic paint is non-toxic, but when harmful chemicals such as lead, manganese, cobalt, and others are added to the paint, it becomes toxic.

When acrylic paints contain harmful chemicals and heavy metals, they become toxic. Such toxic waste can affect not only humans and animals but also the environment in general. 

Some acrylic paints are not considered hazardous waste. However, the fact that they’re non-toxic doesn’t make them suitable for the environment; since the material generally has certain chemicals that are not recognized as eco-friendly.

The best option depends on how much paint you have left and if it’s toxic acrylic paint or not.

Like any other waste product, you must properly dispose of your acrylic paint to avoid harming the environment.

Can You Wash Acrylic Paint Brushes in the Sink?

Even the leftover paint on brushes shouldn’t be washed down the sink when using hazardous acrylic paint. That exposes the environment to dangerous substances.

Although non-toxic acrylic paint brushes can be rinsed in the sink, it isn’t a good idea. As was already noted, the paint can block pipes, which might damage your city’s plumbing or wastewater system.

Instead, wipe off as much extra paint as possible before washing your brushes. Use an old rag, some discarded newspaper, or an extra canvas if you have them. You can dispose of those when the time comes, depending on how toxic the paint is. If you’re unsure whether the paint is poisonous, let it dry before throwing it away. While taking it to a hazardous waste facility is your best bet if it’s toxic.

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