If you’ve finished repainting a few of your home’s rooms, you may find that you have some leftover paint. This is expected since it’s very difficult to determine exactly how much paint you’ll need for your room or for whatever painting project you’re working on. What do you do with this paint? Some people throw it in the garbage, but that’s actually frowned upon if the paint is oil-based. Even if it’s latex paint, you shouldn’t simply throw the can of paint in the garbage. Here are some tips on storing or discarding your paint.

Do You Need to Keep It?

In most cases, you’ll want to keep your partially-empty can of paint just in case you see that you missed a spot or in case you need to touch up your paint job. This is especially true if you’re using a custom color and not an off-the-shelf color. It can be very hard to get a second can of good paint that perfectly matches your original color.

If you decide to get rid of the paint, note that oil-based paint must be taken to a hazardous waste facility to be disposed of. Most cities have these facilities so you can contact your local city waste management office to learn more. If you’re disposing of latex paint, you should first pour it over a box of cat litter or shredded paper to solidify it and then throw it away.

Keeping Paint

If you’re going to store your paint, your first instinct is probably to hammer the lid down and then put the can in your garage or shed. This is actually not a good idea unless the garage is insulated. You wouldn’t want your paint to freeze or to overheat. If it does, the consistency of the paint will change and it will no longer be usable. In fact, the paint will become hazardous if exposed to extreme temperatures for too long.

This means you need to find a place that is cool, dry, and insulated to store your paint. Many people put their used paint in the basement, which is a good choice unless it tends to be damp. If that’s not an option, a closet is also a good choice. The main thing is that the paint is put in an area that has little moisture and does not get too hot or cold.

Storing Paint

Paint should be stored in its original can. You want to get as much air out of the can as possible, so be sure you first clean the lid and the edge of the can so that the two fit together well. Next, cover the space between the lid and the can with plastic wrap. Tap the lid all around the edge using a rubber mallet, not a hammer, to secure it to the can. A hammer can easily dent the rim, which will allow air into the can. Now place it upside down on the shelf. Putting it upside down actually creates another seal on the lid using the paint itself. If it doesn’t get too hot or too cold, your used paint will be good for about two years.