Do you have Oil Paint or Latex Paint?
An easy way to tell the difference between oil and latex is to look on the can's cleaning instructions. If it says to clean up with water then you know you have a latex paint, and if it requires turpentine, it is oil paint.
Oil based paint and stain are to be treated and disposed of as Household Hazardous Waste (HHW). Please see the HHW pages for information on free disposal for oil paint.
Latex paint is water-based and has a very low level of toxicity. Disposing of it as hazardous waste is unnecessary and very expensive, so the Naperville HHW facility does not accept it. Therefore, the Illinois EPA and Kane County encourage people with unwanted latex paint to use other options.
In order of best practice, here are some ways to manage excess Latex Paint:
Buy a smaller can. The best way to reduce waste is by buying only as much as you need.
ReUse it. Add an extra coat or paint something else. Use an old piece of cardboard, some scrap lumber, or the inside of your garage. Let the empty can dry and recycle it. ReStore in Elgin may also take unopened/unused paint for Habitat For Humanity; 800 N State Street, Elgin, 847-742-9905.
Recycle liquid latex paint. Do not dry it out.
Recycle liquid latex paint at an event. See Kane County Recycles Event Dates
Kane County works with local recyclers to accept liquid latex paint in cans and aerosol spray cans. A per-container recycling fee will apply at the events, payable by the resident, with cash or card as follows:
1 Quart – $1 each
1 Gallon – $3 each
2 Gallon – $5 each
5 Gallon – $15 each
Aerosol Products - $1 each
Small camp-size propane canisters - $3.50 each
Dried Paint: if latex paint is dried out, it can not be recycled and should be landfilled. Please pop the lid off and let it sit for a while to make sure it is dried solid and then throw in your curbside trash 1-2 cans per week over time. Do not bring it to the event.
Recycle liquid latex paint at hardware stores. Do not dry it out.
ePaint Recycling works with Kane County to recycle liquid latex paint at events, and they have drop-off locations at participating Ace Hardware stores. A per-can cost applies at hardware stores as well but may vary. Please call the stores to find out pricing. This program might be seasonal because paint freezes. Call location to confirm before you go there to recycle!
Remember to recycle any empty paint cans and lids. A thin coating of dried paint on the inside walls and bottom is ok. Put them in with your household recycling; throw open cans and loose lids in separately.
Donate or share it. Find a friend or neighbor who needs to paint a small area.
Dry it out. Dried latex paint can be disposed of in your regular household trash. Add oil-dry, kitty litter, sawdust, or shredded paper and stir it in to help the paint dry more quickly. Once solidified, place one or two cans per week in trash, with the lids off (in fact you can recycle the lids). If you have large quantities that you need to get rid of all at once, call your waste hauler to inform them and ask how many stickers you will need to attach.
Store it for later. If you want to save the leftover paint for touch-ups, just cover the opening with plastic wrap, and replace the lid securely by hammering it down.