There are many reasons to put off cleaning the garage, but dealing with household hazardous waste shouldn't be one of them. For many homes, the garage is a virtual cornucopia of hazards, which usually includes items like paint and paint thinners. Fortunately, there are options for proper, safe disposal of these items. The following guide will help:
Know the paint type
It's much easier to make sure you dispose of old paint properly if you know what type paint you are dealing with. Latex paint can typically be disposed of with regular household paint if it's treated properly beforehand. You can allow small amounts to dry out or you can purchase a latex solidifying agent. This is added to the paint, where it then turns it solid. You can then just throw the paint away with your regular garbage.
Oil-based paints, as well as pain thinners and removers, require more careful disposal. If you aren't sure if a paint is oil-based, check the label. If it advises the use of turpentine or another caustic paint remover for cleanup, it is likely oil-based. If you are still unsure, treat the paint as though it is oil-based and use the following information for hazardous waste disposal.
Look for community drop-off locations
Many communities have hazardous waste disposal days. These are often posted in neighborhood newsletters, on county or city websites, or in publications put out by your local waste management services. Hardware stores may also have paint disposal programs, although these typically have a fee or require that the paint was purchased from them. Drop-off locations may also have rules as to what you can bring and how much, so inquire before you load up all the old paint in your garage. For example, some community drop-offs may not allow containers over 5 gallons in size, or they may not accept items that no longer have their original label.
Contact a disposal service
If a drop-off location isn't an option, then you will need to take the old paint to a disposal service. Most municipal waste disposal services have hazardous waste disposal at a transfer station or dump. You may need to pay a fee to drop off your paint. There are also private services available that will take your hazardous waste. Some private services may even offer to pick up the old paint. Just be aware that disposal service options often come with a fee, and you may need to pay the fee in cash. Inquire ahead of time so you can be properly prepared.