An easy way to tell the difference between oil and latex is to look on the can at the cleaning instructions. If it says to clean up with water then you know you have a latex 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 most facilities do 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.
Use it up. 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.
Recycle liquid latex paint. No need to dry it out.
Recycle it at a Kane County Recycles Collection Event (2020 event dates: 5/9, 7/11, 10/10): Please note that we accept latex paint only and do not accept aerosols (spray cans), oil paints, varnishes, solvents, or products intended for industrial or non-architectural use. Latex paint must be in its original container with the original manufacturer’s printed label. We cannot accept open or leaking cans. A per-container recycling fee will apply at the events, payable by the resident, with cash, check, or card as follows:
LATEX PAINT COST
1 Quart – $1.00 each
1 Gallon – $3.00 each
2 Gallon – $5.00 each
5 Gallon – $10.00 each
Recycle it at hardware stores: Ace Hardware stores often participate in a liquid latex paint recycling program. Call you closest locations to check if they participate or check this list of locations.
Recycle any empty paint cans and lids that you may have; a thin coating of dried paint on the inside walls and bottom is ok. Put them in with your household recycling.
ReUse it. ReStore in Elgin will also take unopened/unused paint; 800 N State Street, Elgin, 847-742-9905.
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 cans in trash, 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. Usually it is about three cans for one sticker.
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.
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.