Dispose of paint safely in alexandria, northern VA, MD and DC

You wonder what to do with that extra paint left by the painting contractor after finishing your interior painting project? I understand it’s just a few pints in each of them and you don’t see an immediate use. And it’s taking up space.

Paint can be toxic to the environment and pets.  Proper disposal of the paint is important. The easiest thing to do in Fairfax County or city of Alexandria is to dispose of it at a permanent drop off facility run by the local government.

But, just wait.

That’s what everyone is telling you.  And that’s what every other google result is leading you to do.  But there are way better options available. Keep reading to know how else can you get rid of the paint.

Why Should You Get Rid of the Paint?

Paint has a lot of chemicals, and some of them might be toxic. And if it’s left unattended for a while can pose a serious threat to the environment.  It might even be poisonous and can threaten the lives of humans and pets.

Unless you are in possession of a Zero-VOC paint, the fumes might pose an additional threat.  I don’t even have to tell the nasty odor that it can produce.

You don’t have to put with all these risks and an unpleasant odor.

Throw in Garbage or Dispose at a Hazard Handling Facility

Good question and an important one to think of.

Handling latex paints

Most Latex paints are not considered hazardous. So, they are totally fine to be put in the trash can for your weekly pickup.

However, you cannot dump the paint can as is.  It needs to be dry.

How to dry the latex paint before putting it in the trash?

Take a few old newspapers, put it on a flat surface (like a patio) and spread the paint over it. Allow it to air dry for a few hours.

Once it’s completely dry, roll the newspapers nicely and throw it in your trash can.

The second method is to take cat litter equal to the amount of paint left over and add to it and stir well.  

This will thicken the paint so fast and eventually dry the paint out.  

Just leave it outside and let it air dry.  Once totally dry, you can trash it in your garbage can.

Handling oil-based paint

They are hazardous. Period.  Your ideal choice is to use it or discard at a permanent facility run by your county or city.

Please check the facilities web page to see if they handle hazardous products and especially if they accept oil-based paint.

How Can You Dispose of the Unwanted Paint?

You have quite a few options here.  I am trying to address it in the order you should think before disposing of it at the county or city facility.

Keep it for later use (hint: touch-up)

Believe me, it’s better to keep the paint.  Because sooner or later you will notice scuff marks and I don’t want to slap yourself for not saving some.

But how do you take care of it so the paint is still good a few years later? Good question.

Organizing the paint cans

If your family wanted a different color in each of your rooms, I get it. However, you will be left with multiple 5-gallon buckets with just a little bit of paint in each.

What you do is find smaller airtight containers and transfer the paint.  This way you just need a smaller footprint in your basement to save all those and yet you can retain all.

Seal it up tight

The most important thing to do is seal it so no air can pass through.  Use a rubber mallet or something firm but soft to knock it in place.

Never use a hammer.  You will only ruin the lid, so it wouldn’t stay tight.

Your goal is to keep the air from drying the paint out.

How and where to store

Your painting crew might have put it in the basement. That’s the best place to store. You want a moderate temperature to store the paint cans.

In any case, you are looking for a dark, dry, and relatively cool place to store the paint.

Too cold will separate the latex paint and too hot will dry the paint out.  

Make sure you place it on a raised location and not let it touch the side of the walls or floor if you expected them to have moisture.  Else, the paint cans can easily get rusted

Craigslist free section

If you really don’t need the paint – assuming your are downsizing or moving out of state, what do you do?

There is a “Free” section in craigslist.  It’s funny that the FREE will be listed under for sale.  Don’t ask me why, but that’s how it is designed.

You can give it away by posting it in the free section.  As they say, “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure”.

Or if you want to make a few bucks, you can always post it in the garage sale section and have someone pick it up.  You also make a few dollars by doing it.

give it away instead of disposing using craigslist free

Habitat for Humanity ReStores (Helps charity)

If you don’t like putting the ad and expecting strangers at your place, I have got a better option for you.  Go to your neighboring Restore (A.K.A Habitat for Humanity) and gift it to them.

The money from selling the paint goes to help the needy.

Permanent drop off facilities run by your county or city

The best way to dispose of the Paint (and any hazardous waste) is to bring it to a permanent collection facility run by the local government.  

Most of the centers are open all days.  I have provided details of the location and operation hours below.

Usually, bring it to the county or city where you live as it is run from the tax money collected from the residents.  Don’t think you can swing by and drop it off. Most locations would verify your ID and it should reflect the city of your residence.

So the proof of residency is mandatory, so get your id with you to be able to drop off the unused or waste paint.

Where Are the Permanent Drop-off Facilities and the Hours of Operation?

In Northern Virginia:

I-66 Transfer Station (Fairfax County)

This location is open all 7 days.  You can dispose of the paint between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Monday through Saturday and between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Sundays.

I-95 Landfill complex (Fairfax County)

The landfill complex on I-95 is open between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. on all days, except Sunday.

Check Fairfax county government site for more information.

3224 Colvin Street  (City of Alexandria)

You can access this location only on Saturdays and Mondays, and between 7:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. on both the days.

County Landfill (Prince Williams County)

Drop off between 10 a.m. to 5 p.m on Wednesdays and Saturdays.  This is for all county residents, except commercial use and the residents of Manassas Park and City of Manassas.

Check for more information on Prince William County government website

8500 Public Works Drive ( Manassas and Manassas Park)

All weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.  Additionally, you can drop off at Manassas Transfer Station from March to November while the monthly drop off events is organized.

In Maryland:

Shady Grove Transfer Station (Montgomery County)

You can drop off between 7:00 am – 8:00 pm on weekdays and between 7:00 am and 5:00 pm on Saturdays and 9:00 am and 5 pm on Sundays. Check Montgomery County website for updated information.

Brown Station Road Sanitary Landfill (Prince George’s County)

You can drop the paint between 8:00 am and 3:30 pm on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Know more by visiting Brown Station Landfill website.

In Washington, DC:

Any PaintCare drop off locations.  Use this tool to find the closest store near you

In Conclusion:

It’s tempting to throw the paint away or at least get rid of it in some fashion.   But it is better to store it for future use, because you may never know when you need it.

In any case, it is far better to give it to someone and have them use it instead of dumping it in the soil.  

Handling waste effectively is one thing, but totally avoiding waste and using it is whole another thing and is way better.