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Paint recycling

Learn how to recycle unwanted and leftover paint at drop-off locations throughout Washington.

Recycle paint with PaintCare

PaintCare is a nonprofit operating in Washington and other states. There are PaintCare drop-off locations throughout King County and Washington. You can recycle most paint at these locations if you are a Washington resident, businesses, or government agency.

There is no charge to recycle paint at PaintCare locations.

Find your nearest PaintCare drop-off location. 

Accepted items:

  • House paint and primers (latex or oil-based)
  • Stains
  • Deck and concrete sealers
  • Clear finishes (e.g. varnishes, shellac)

Visit PaintCare for more information about accepted products.

Learn more about PaintCare.

Other paint disposal methods

Oil-based paints, paint strippers, and paint thinners

Residential customers can dispose of oil-based paints, paint strippers, and paint thinners at King County Hazardous Waste Disposal Locations.

For information on disposing oil-based paints, visit the Hazardous Waste Management Program or call 206-296-4692.

If you are a business, please visit Business Hazardous Waste or call 206-263-8899

Latex paint, water-based stains, and clear finishes

If you are unable to go to a PaintCare drop-off site, latex paint, water-based stains, and clear finishes can be disposed of in the garbage. Once the latex paint has hardened or solidified, place the can in your garbage container with the lid off. The garbage hauler needs to see that the paint has hardened. 

Do not put latex paints or water-based stains in the garbage if they are liquid. Liquid latex paint can damage or clog septic fields and sewage treatment plants. Illegal disposal of latex paint also poses environmental hazards on the ground.

Be sure it's a latex paint or stain. Look on the label for the word "latex" or for directions to clean up or thin with water. To solidify latex paint and water-based stains use the following methods:

Harden latex paint with air

  • Remove the lid and let the paint solidify in the can.
  • Protect from freezing temperatures and rain as well as curious children and animals.
  • This method only works with an inch or less of paint in the can and is most effective in the warmer months.

Harden latex paint with cat litter

  • Mix latex paint with an equal amount of clay-based cat litter.
  • Stir in the cat litter completely and let the paint dry. It takes about 10 minutes for the cat litter to harden.
  • Add more cat litter if the paint is soft or runny after 10 minutes. Repeat until the material is very thick.
  • If you do not have cat litter, alternative materials you can use are sawdust, dirt, and shredded paper.
  • Pour some paint into a plastic or cardboard container if you cannot mix in enough cat litter.

Harden latex paint with commercial paint hardener

  • Mix latex paint or stain with commercial paint hardener according to the directions.
  • Once ready, the paint will have a tacky, oatmeal-like consistency that will not spill out.

Other options

  • Use the paint when painting a garage, dog house, or use as a primer coat for another painting project.
  • Donate excess paint to a school, theater group, or non-profit agency.