How to Safely Get Rid of Paint, Toxic Cleaning Products and Motor Oil


Sorry to burst your bubble, but not even eco-bloggers are eco-perfect. Case in point: the last time I moved I had to deal with a few cans of leftover house paint. It wasn’t worth taking with me so I left those cans in the shed for the next resident to deal with. Not the greatest karma, but at least I didn’t throw the paint in the trash.

Here’s the good neighbor way to deal with household hazardous waste like leftover paint, cleaning products and used motor oil.

1. Paint

With paint, you have a few options: If the paint is still good, look around and see if there’s an old chair or table you can spiff up, or donate the paint to a church or community organization that may be able to use it. Otherwise, you’ll have to make sure the paint is completely solid before throwing that can away. Leave the lid open to let it dry or fill the can with sawdust and kitty litter to create a solid mass. The big faux pas is throwing away liquid paint, which leaks from the landfill into groundwater.

2. Toxic Cleaning Products

As for those potent household cleaning chemicals (the ones you no longer use now that you’ve gone green…right?), you’ll have to contact your local hazardous waste removal center. Look in the phonebook or Google it. Better yet, list them on Freecycle – there might be someone out there with a really tough cleaning job who doesn’t mind the fumes.

3. Motor Oil

Any weekend mechanic will have a grimy can or two sitting around. But don’t be tempted to pour it on the ground! Many communities have recycling programs for motor oil. Use Google to find your local oil recycling center, or call an auto parts store or car dealership – they can point you in the right direction.

It does take a little bit of extra work to dump these toxic products correctly, but trust me, you don’t want it getting into the water supply. And please, don’t do what I did and leave it for someone else to deal with!

Image: kabil