How to Dispose of Oil Paint

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If you have a lot of oil paint left over after a paint and sip party, it is important to save as much of that paint as possible. After all, it costs a lot, and you don’t want to waste any more than is absolutely necessary.

But, what do you do when it does come time to dispose of oil paint that hasn’t been used on your paintings? This is what we are going to talk about today.

Keep reading to learn more about how to dispose of oil paints, especially after cleaning oil paint brushes or removing oil paint from palettes.

Use Environmentally-Friendly Oil Paints

Before we get into discussing the disposal of oil paints, I want to talk about using environmentally friendly paints. 

No matter what type of art supplies you use, always look for products that are made at least partially with recycled materials. This is going to allow you to create art without causing damage to the environment, and your work will have the same wonderful quality it has always had.

Using recycled materials helps to reduce waste, which means that not only is it environmentally friendly, but you will also save time on cleanup after you finish painting.

Proper Disposal of Oil Paint

It can be very damaging to the environment if you are not disposing of your oil paints, mediums, mineral spirits, turpentine, etc. properly.

Many ingredients in oil paints and solvents are quite toxic, and the last thing you want to do is put toxic chemicals into the ground or water.

#1. Save Your Oil Paints For Later

If you have leftover paint but haven’t finished your painting or plan to start another one in the next day or two, save and reuse the paint that is still on the palette.

You can put it on a glass plate and store the oil paint in the freezer, or simply cover it with plastic wrap.

#2. Use Mineral Spirits

You can reuse mineral spirits if you let them sit and rest for a few days after using them.

The paint residue will end up settling at the bottom of the jar, and then the mineral spirits on top are clean and ready to use over and over again.

Reusing your mineral spirits prevents you from pouring them out and causing any damage to the environment. It also makes them last a lot longer, so you will save money over time.

#3. Get a Toxic Chemical Container

One of the best ways to dispose of oil paints and other toxic materials is to take them to a disposal center. You will need to get yourself a toxic chemical container for this purpose.

This type of container is ideal for getting rid of oil paints, mineral spirits, turpentine, and other toxic supplies. Generally, one of these containers will have a “Caution: Toxic” warning on the outside.

One of the biggest advantages of using a toxic chemical container is that it will seal in all of the fumes. You won’t be breathing in any toxic, chemical fumes from your art materials, including oil paints.

#4. Use Recycling Containers

What happens when you have empty paint jars and tubes? How do you dispose of these items? You can place them inside recycling containers.

You will need to check all of the product labels to find out what materials are recyclable, and how to recycle them. There will be a triangle symbol with a number inside of the triangle if they are recyclable.

If you live in an area where recyclables are picked up regularly, you can simply place these recycling containers holding your old oil paints in the proper bins for pickup.


Never throw old oil paints, solvents, etc. into the garbage, and do not dump them down the drain. The chemicals will get into the water supply, the ground, etc., and some of the materials could even leave you with plumbing issues.

Use the proper disposal methods for oil paints and you will never have to worry about having problems later on.

Also check my guide on how to dispose of paint waste water for more tips.

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*image by wirestock_creators/depositphotos