Brilliant Home Hack: Use Kitty Litter to Dispose of Old Paint

I love doing home improvement projects — especially painting, because slapping on a new coat of color has such a dramatic impact for very little cost. The problem I have — and I’m certain I’m not alone in this — is what to do with the leftover paint. I have a corner of the basement stacked with half-empty cans, 14 to be precise. I can’t just throw them in the trash — it’s not allowed — so they keep accumulating…

So, this hack using kitty litter is a godsend that will allow me to get rid of at least half of that mess quickly. Here’s how it works:

Collect all the cans of leftover latex (water-based) paint. (Latex is most commonly used on indoor projects, and it accounts for the majority of what accumulate in most households.) If the can is less than half full, stir in kitty litter until it absorbs the paint to the consistency of crumbly cookie dough and set it aside. The paint and kitty litter will bond and form a solid — and at that point it can be thrown into the regular trash. In this form, the paint will break down slowly, rather than leaching into the groundwater.

If the can only has a tiny bit of paint in it, you can just leave it open to dry, and then throw the can away.

If the cans are full or nearly full, you could still divide them into smaller containers and use the kitty-litter trick, but a better solution is to find a paint recycling center in your community. Typically, these facilities will sort, strain and reformulate the paint for reuse. It requires a little more effort on your part, but it’s clearly more environmentally friendly.

Note: All of the above apply only to latex paints. In most communities, oil-based paints and solvents such as turpentine need to be delivered to hazardous waste sites. You can find the closest one by checking with your public utilities provider.

What’s your favorite application of kitty litter besides the one for which it was created? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

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