How to dispose of latex paint

We accept dried-out latex and water-based paint in your regular trash, and as trash at our Shady Grove Processing Facility and Transfer Station.

See instructions for oil-based paint

How do I prepare paint for disposal?

All residual/leftover latex and water-based paint must be hardened or dried. Any wet or soft paint that could spill will be left as unacceptable by collection crews.

How do I dry cans less than 1/4 full?

  • Remove the lid.
  • Place can in a safe, well-ventilated area.
  • Can contents will dry in a few days.
  • Follow trash instructions below.

How do I dry cans more than 1/4 full?

  • Protect your work surface by lining it with old newspaper.
  • Add waste paint hardener to paint can. One packet generally treats up to one gallon of unwanted latex or water-based paint.
    • Mulch, kitty litter, or shredded paper may also be used as a bulking/drying agent, but will take longer to solidify paint.
  • Stir and mix thoroughly.
  • Set aside for 30 minutes. At the end of that time, paint will have a tacky,oatmeal-like consistency, but will not spill out.
  • Follow trash instructions below.

Once cans are dried out

  • Remove lids from cans
  • Put both lids and cans into a plastic trash bag along with your regular household trash.
  • If you have Montgomery County-provided trash collection service, you may place up to four paint cans out for collection at one time. [Trash cans must be under 45 pounds each, per County guidelines for household trash collection.]
    • For more than four paint cans, request a free bulk collection. If you have privately-arranged trash service, contact your hauler for more information.

The paint can you put into your trash will actually get recycled: household trash is processed in the County's Resource Recovery Facility. There, it is incinerated, and the dried paint burns off of the metal can. Steel (including paint cans!) and other ferrous metals are recovered from the remaining ash, and are sent to metal processors for recycling.

Why does paint need to be dried out for trash collection?

Fluid paint can spill before, during, and after collection. To avoid messes, we require that all paint be dried before we can accept it as trash.

paint spilled on driveway

Is your paint still in usable condition?

If your paint is still in usable condition, and has not been frozen, consider offering it for reuse through

  • your neighborhood email list
  • Craigslist, Freecycle, or similar places
Search again
Division of Solid Waste Services - full site