We’ve all got a few cans of paint at home – but many homeowners, especially the DIY types, might have a few containers of paint thinner or other paint-related solvents. And just like with paint, they may have outlived their welcome in your garage, basement, or attic. Today, learn what your options for old paint thinner & solvent are, including safe handling, reuse, and disposal at home and at hazardous waste facilities.
Understanding the Hazards of Paint Thinner & Solvent
When it comes to products that alter paint, they can contain compounds that do not play well with others or living creatures. Paint thinners and solvents, including turpentine and mineral spirits, need to be treated with caution, especially considering:
- Volatile Organic Compounds: Many of these products contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can be toxic to inhale. Open in a well-ventilated area or use proper masks.
- Safe Handling and Storage: Make sure to read the labels of these products! These products may be absorbed through the skin, be carcinogenic, or flammable. Take proper handling and storage measures, including transferring them to metal or glass sealed vessels.
- Unsafe for Liquid Disposal: Generally speaking, chemicals should not be poured down the drain or into the trash, and paint thinners and solvents are no exception.
It’s also important to know about paint storage and disposal, including oil and latex paint and even spray paint. Some of these products carry the same risks and storage hazards as paint adulterants: see our Fact Sheets for more details.
Options for Dealing with Leftover Paint Solvents
So what should you do with leftover paint thinner and solvent? As always, our first recommendation is to reuse or give away the product if it’s still good. Once paint settles, these products can often be poured off the top and used – though generally, you want to use it with the same color.
If reuse isn’t an option, check to see if your local municipality has a collection service or event you can use. If you’re in the New England area, consider coming to one of NEDT’s Household Hazardous Products Collection Centers. We have multiple locations in MA to make disposing of household hazardous waste easier, as well as a pick-up service if you need assistance. Contact us today to learn more!