How To Dispose of Acrylic Paint? 100% Safe And Eco-Friendly Ways

Acrylic paint is widely used for a variety of painting projects and artworks. It is usually non-toxic but can create challenges for humans, animals and marine life when it enters the food chain or water system. Moreover, it can clog your drainage system. So there’s a need to dispose of the paint properly. 

The biggest concern with disposing of paint is that if you do it in the wrong way, it can pollute surface water and groundwater. And since we all like to drink fresh water, we should keep rivers and streams clean. So how to dispose of acrylic paint safely? 

There are two things to keep in mind. The first one is old paint, which needs to be dried before getting rid of it and throwing it in the trash. The second thing is paint water which needs to be filtered out before draining.  

In the post, I’ll talk about all the possible eco-friendly ways to dispose of acrylic paint. Moreover, we’ll dive into the cautions you must follow when discarding paint.  

How To Get Rid of Acrylic Paint? 3 Rules

There are multiple ways to get rid of left-out acrylic paints or rinsed water. But going for the one that is safe and doesn’t hurt the environment and your drainage system should be preferred. Learn more below.

  • Recycle and Reuse

Before we talk about acrylic paint disposal, you should do your best to reuse the old paint if you can. If the paint is still good, and maybe you have a clause of these to be painted, or there is a little project that you have where you want to use that pain, that’s really the best thing to do. 

  • Donate The Paint 

I have read that some schools will take donations, you know, for plays and things like that. Local communities will take donations of paint. But it’s actually kind of hard to find, and not every area has the ability to recycle paint or donate paint. But if you can find it, it is better to donate acrylic paint.  

  • Dispose of The Paint

The final way to get rid of your paint or dirty water is to dispose of them. But how to do that, and what precautions to follow? Can you throw away acrylic paint? No, you can’t just throw the paint away into the nearby trash can, as it is illegal in many countries. You must process the products to make them eco-friendly and easy to manage.

Did you know?
It is against the law to throw away wet paint in the trash in many developed countries. 
How To Get Rid of Acrylic Paint

What To Avoid While Disposing of Acrylic Paint?

Let’s talk first about where you should not dispose of acrylic paint. A lot of these precautions are related to polluting groundwater and surface water.

  • So first, you shouldn’t dump wet paint or liquid paint on the ground. You also shouldn’t dump it down storm drains because, again, that will get into the water supply.
  • You also want to avoid dumping liquid paint into the garbage can directly because, again, if it’s not dried, that will go to a landfill, and runoff from the landfill can pollute groundwater. 
  • And the last thing, you want to make sure that you don’t dump it down the drain. Now, if you are washing water-based paint like the brushes or things like that in a sink, it’s OK if some of that paint does go down the drain. This is your washing it. But you certainly don’t want to dump full cans of paint down the drain.
What To Avoid While Disposing of Acrylic Paint

How To Dispose of Leftover Acrylic Paint?

For water-based paint like acrylic, the key is to make sure it is dry. So there are a few options. You can just open up the paint can and let it dry in the air, but it takes time. You can take an old cardboard box, dump your paint there in the box in a single layer and let that dry. But again, that takes time. 

The easiest way is to use a hardener. People also use Kitty litter. If you have kitty litter, you can use it, but the better option is a hardener. You can buy it for really cheap, and they’re great at drying up that old paint, so you can just throw the trash. 

Step 1: Mix The Hardener

So with these hardeners, all you need to do is just open up the paint can dump a little bit of it into the paint. You can also follow the directions to see exactly how much you need to dump in and then just stop around and leave it until the paint dries up. A 5$ pack of hardener will be enough for about 2/3 of a gallon. 

What I usually do is just take a plastic bag, put it into a big garbage bucket, forward the paint in there, mix kitten litter and then once it’s all dry, I can just pull up the other way, and it’s nice and sealed so. 

Step 2: Stir The Mix

You need to just put the hardener in there and stir it up. It’s a white kind of powdery material. Stir it up, let it set, and it will harden up after a little while in 15 to 20 minutes or so.

Step 3: Throw Away Hard Paint

And once that paint is completely dry, you can just throw the paint cans in the trash. If you do throw the dried paint into the trash, I would recommend that you leave the paint can lid half open so that the people picking up the trash will know that it has been dried.

How To Dispose of Acrylic Paint Water?

Let me tell you how I process the dirty paint water from painting, cleaning and from getting acrylic paint off of carpets, clothes and other such surfaces.

There are some materials that I use, and if you’d like to follow this process, I think you will be very pleased with the result. Following are the supplies you require, which are easily available at home or at a nearby store. 

Supplies Needed

  • Big Bucket:

I usually pour dirty water into a big bucket. It is an easy way to store the water and then filter it on time. 

  • Fertilisers:

You need some hydrated lime and aluminium sulphate. These are garden fertilisers, and you can find them in garden centres or some of the big hardware stores.

  • Small Containers:

Alrighty, and then you need small containers to hold the filtered water. If you don’t have a container, you can use anything large that has a wide mouth there.

  • Coffee Filters:

The main thing is a filter that will help you separate the paint from the water. A coffee filter or any other filter will work only if it has holes small enough to grab paint and doesn’t allow it to pass through.

  • Stirrer: 

You will also need a stirring stick to mix the fertiliser into the dirty water and help stir the mixture.  

  • Recyclable cups:

You’ll need yoghurt or any recyclable cups. They are great for bailing out the water from the big bucket into the coffee filter. 

  • Funnel:

You’ll need funnels to make it easy for the water to move through the filter into the container. 

  • Spoons:

Spoons are needed to take out the fertiliser and mix it in the dirty water in the right proportion.  

Procedure For Acrylic Paint Water Disposal

Now let’s move on to the procedure of filtering the acrylic paint water. The process is quite simple. Make sure you put a funnel and the filter over the container so that you drain dirty water directly into the container. 

Step 1: Mix Fertilisers Into Dirty Water

Take a scoop of hydrated lime and sprinkle it over the water in the bucket. Then take a scoop of aluminium sulphate and mix it into the dirty water. In short, mix both fertilisers into the acrylic paint water you have collected in a bucket. 

Step 2: Stir The Mixture

Alright, so now stir the mix. Everything gets dissolved by stirring. You can let it sit for a few minutes if you want. In a while, you’ll start noticing that there is some kind of coagulation. Eventually, all the particles will settle to the bottom, and you will have just clear water at the very top. 

Step 3: Filter The Water

When the water is all cleared up, start bailing out clean water first and pour it into the filter. At first, it will be all clear, and it will soak through that filter immediately. Keep doing that till you get to the switch at the bottom.

Keep bailing out water from the bucket and pouring it into the filtration system. The coffee filter will filter everything out, and you will end up with a container full of clear water.

Step 4: Dispose Of Water

Now, where to dispose of acrylic paint water that is being filtered? You can either dump that down the sink or do as I do. I just go outside and pour the water directly into the roots of my plants. I’ve been doing this for several years, but they haven’t died. They seem to be doing well. 

A Quick Tip For Disposal Of Acrylic Paint Water

This is just a quick tip if you work with acrylic paint. I have a simple way to keep the acrylic mediums and paints from clogging your pipes, getting into your water system, your septic tank, and the environment. I found this way, and it seems to really take a lot of the stuff out of here.

Start with any recyclable container like the yoghurt container. Drill one hole in the bottom and then some holes around the outside near the bottom line. So if this were to be filled with water, it wouldn’t hold the water; it would leak out in all directions.  

Then the second part of this is going to the store in your local community and getting two pairs of nylon socks like knee-high pantyhose. Put it inside the container and stretch it over the sides so that you end up having a nice opening. So the nylon hose is in there now. 

Now pour dirty water into the opening of the container gradually. You’ll see water coming out of the holes of the cup, leaving behind the paint inside the nylon socks. You can drain the filtered water (free of paint) directly into the sink. 

When you end up with a lot of the paint staying in the cup or when this gets really gunky and clogged, and you know it won’t hold acrylic anymore, you just throw away that nylon socks and put another one in.  

How To Dispose of Oil-Based Paint?

Oil-based paints are a little bit different. You really can’t dispose of them in the same way as you do with water-based paints.

In fact, in most places, oil-based paints and finishes or anything like that are considered hazardous waste materials, and so you will need to check in your own region, your own city, and your own town what the rules are and what the requirements are for disposing of it. 

In my country, there is actually county-run waste disposal for hazardous materials, including all the oil-based paints, varnishes or anything like that, and you will need to take it there and have them dispose of it for you.

Some of these counties may charge a fee. But really, the best thing to do with all these oil-based products and paints is to reuse them if you can. 

How To Dispose of Gesso?

Gesso is an acrylic primer used for sizing the base and preventing the paint from bleeding through the surface. Gesso is water-based and easy to dispose of. However, you need some guidance and basic materials to do so. 

The best way is to reuse Gesso if possible. If it has really gone bad and is not suitable to be used, you should get rid of it in a safer way. As gesso is water-based, you need to dry it thoroughly before you throw it away. Use a paint hardener if you want the process to be faster. A dried-out Gesso is now safe and ready to be thrown into nearby trash cans.   

How To Dispose of Latex Paint?

If you are like most people, you have latex paint sitting around in your basement or your garage. The first step to minimising that paint is to plan ahead, measure the area you are going to paint, and only purchase the amount of product necessary to finish that job. However, if you do indeed have leftover latex paint, there are options for disposal. 

Latex paint which makes up about 90% of the paint sold in the United States, is made up mostly of water. This type of paint can be dried out and put into your regular trash. It is not acceptable at the hazardous waste facility if it is still wet. 

I gonna tell you the proper ways to dispose of your latex paint. You never want to dispose of latex paint by pouring it onto the ground, down your drain or into a sewer drain.

The key to proper disposal of latex paint is simple. It has to be dry. Here are three different ways you can achieve this. 

How To Dispose of Latex Paint
How To Dispose of Latex Paint

Ways To Dispose of Latex Paint 

  • The easiest way to get your latex paint ready for disposal is to remove the lid, leave the paint in a well-ventilated area and then wait for the volatile compounds to evaporate. This method works best for smaller amounts of paint, and it usually takes 2 to 3 days for the paint to dry out. 
  • When disposing of a larger amount of paint, I suggest you put absorbent material such as paint-based hardener, cat litter, sawdust or shredded newspaper into the paint and allow the mixture to dry thoroughly.
  • The 3rd method is to pour a thin layer of paint onto a disposable pipe plate or cardboard box lined with plastic. And allow that paint to dry one layer at a time. Repeat this process until all the paint is dry.
  • When all the paint is dry, you can throw the pipe, plate or cardboard box into the trash. These are the three easy and responsible ways to dispose of latex paint. 


How to dispose of acrylic house paint?

Acrylic house paint should be disposed of using eco-friendly methods like drying it out before throwing it into the trash bucket. Use paint absorbents or cat litter to get the paint free of water.    

Can acrylic paint go down the drain?

No, you should not rinse acrylic paint down the drain because it can eventually clog the pipes. Because the solid paint particles are difficult to push through the pipes, they get stuck in the pipes and gradually develop solid mass, which blocks the drainage system. 

Can you wash acrylic paintbrushes in the sink?

No, it is not a good idea to wash the brushes directly into the sink. They can lead to blockage of the sink. You better rinse the brushes in a separate container and then dispose of that water safely. 

Is acrylic paint environmentally friendly?

No acrylic paint is unsafe for the environment because it contains plastic materials, metals, and hazardous hydrocarbons. All these compounds cause eco pollution.

How to dispose of craft paint?

The best way to dispose of your craft paint is by letting it dry completely, putting it into a biodegradable garbage bag, and throwing it into the trash.

Final Thoughts

We, as humans, are more responsible for contaminating the water and the whole atmosphere. The pollution affects not only us but innocent animals too, especially marine life. Thus, there is a need for awareness. 

We require agencies, governments and welfare institutions to work on minimising pollution more strictly. But at least we can individually contribute to eliminating pollution by disposing of dangerous chemicals safely. 

I, as a painter, know how to dispose of acrylic paint and other such water and oil-based products, and I hope you follow the instructions and spread awareness.

Thank You!

Jose Scott

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