An official website of
Montgomery County, Maryland

How to recycle / dispose paint (latex/water-based)

Search for another material

We accept dried-out latex and water-based paint in your regular trash, and as trash at our Shady Grove Processing Facility and Transfer Station.

See instructions for oil-based paint

How do I prepare latex paint for disposal?

All residual/leftover latex and water-based paint must be hardened or dried.

Any wet or soft paint that could spill will be left as unacceptable by collection crews.

To dry cans less than 1/4 full

  • Remove the lid.
  • Place can in a safe, well-ventilated area.
  • Can contents will dry in a few days.
  • Follow trash instructions below.

To dry cans more than 1/4 full

  • Protect your work surface by lining it with old newspaper.
  • Add waste paint hardener to paint can. One packet generally treats up to one gallon of unwanted latex or water-based paint.
    • Mulch, kitty litter, or shredded paper may also be used as a bulking/drying agent but it will take longer to solidify the paint.
  • Stir and mix thoroughly.
  • Set aside for 30 minutes. At the end of that time, the paint will have a tacky, oatmeal-like consistency but will not spill out.
  • Follow trash instructions below.

Once cans are dried out

  • Remove lids from cans
  • Put both lids and cans into a plastic trash bag along with your regular household trash.
  • If you have Montgomery County-provided trash collection service, you may place up to four paint cans out for collection at one time. (Trash cans must be under 45 pounds each, per County guidelines for household trash collection.)
    • For more than four paint cans, request a free bulk collection. Contact your hauler for more information if you have a privately arranged trash service.

Why does latex paint need to be dried out for trash collection?

Fluid paint can spill before, during, and after collection. To avoid messes, we require that all paint be dried before we can accept it as trash.

paint spilled on driveway

Is your paint still in usable condition?

If your paint is still in usable condition and has not been frozen, bring it to our Household Hazardous Waste facility at the Shady Grove Processing Facility and Transfer Station for reuse. We place usable paint into our Paint Giveaway, where Montgomery County residents may pick it up for free.

Due to increased handling and disposal costs, you may drop off up to five (5) gallons of wet paint per calendar month.

At any time of the year, consider offering usable paint on:

  • your neighborhood email list
  • Buy Nothing, Craigslist, Freecycle, or similar places.

Locations accepted

  • Transfer Station
  • Curbside Collection

Material type

  • Trash
  • Other