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Do you have Oil Paint, Latex Paint or Spray Paint​?

An easy way to tell the difference between oil and latex is to look on the label instructions for brush cleaning. If it says to clean brushed in water then you know you have a latex paint, and if it requires turpentine/paint thinner, then it is oil paint. Spray paint obviously comes in an aerosol can.

Oil Paint​
Oil based paints and stains are to be treated and disposed of as Household Hazardous Waste (HHW). Please see the HHW pages for information on free disposal options for oil paint.​

Paint Bucket Image

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 the Naperville HHW facility does not accept it. Illinois EPA and Kane County encourage residents with unwanted latex paint to use other options.

In order of best practice, here are some ways to avoid and manage excess Latex Paint:

Buy a smaller can. The best way to reduce waste is by buying only as much as you need. Don't buy a gallon if a quart will do!

Store it for later. Save leftover paint for touch-ups by covering the mouth of the can with plastic wrap, a​nd then replacing the lid securely by hammering it down. Store sealed cans in climate-controlled areas (e.g., in a basement, closet or utility room instead of in an unheated garage). Paint may need to be re-agitated before use if it has been stored for a while as the pigments tend to separate. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Reuse it. Add an extra coat or paint something else. Once the can is empty, let the residue in dry out and recycle the can. Both the can and the lid are recyclable, but it's best to put them in the recycle bin/cart separately. 

Donate or share it. Find a friend or neighbor who needs to paint a small area. Recycle liquid latex paint​. ReStore in Elgin may also take unopened cans of latex paint for Habitat For Humanity; 800 N State Street, Elgin, 847-742-9905.​​​

Recycle it. Do not dry it out.​ Do not mix paint of different colors or types together.

Recycle liquid latex paint at an event. In 2022, Kane County will be recycling liquid latex paint on May 14, July 9, and October 8, working with our recycling partner ePaint​. See our events​ page for more details.

There is a per-container recycling fee for latex paint at Kane County events, payable by participants as with cash or card  as follows: 

1 Quart – $1 each

1 Gallon – $3 each

2 Gallon – $5 each

5 Gallon – $15 each

Please do not mix different cans of paint together to save on costs - mixed paint is less likely to be recyclable. 

Recycle liquid latex paint at hardware stores. Do not dry it out. Most hardware and paint stores take liquid paint​ ​that they originally sold back for recycling, though they are not legally required to do so. ​

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 into bins/carts separately.  ​

Dry it out and throw it away. Dried latex paint can be disposed of in your regular household trash. Add 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 for guidance.


Spray Paint

We are lucky in Kane County to have a local partner in Flat Can Recycling to recycle aerosol products​ including spray paint (full or empty) at our events​ and through the ​Kane County Recycling Centers. The cost to recycle is $1.00 per can​​.​

Spray paint can also be disposed of through HHW programs​.​