How to Properly Store Leftover Paint

When you are finished with painting your home, you probably don’t know what to do with your leftover paint. You may want to store your paint so that you can use it again in the future. If you don’t store it correctly, it could end up drying out and becoming unusable. In this blog post, we will outline some tips for storing leftover paint so that you can use it again and again in the future.

Pour it Back in the Original Container

If you plan on keeping your paint for long-term use, one of the most important things to do is pour the paint back into its original container.  This will only make it easier to identify later on, but also prevent the paint from drying out or becoming contaminated. Additionally, by ensuring that your paint is properly stored in its original container, you can help protect it against exposure to sunlight, heat, and other environmental factors that may cause it to degrade over time. After all, coatings manufacturers spend a lot of research and development money creating the perfect paint can. Why not use it again and again. So, if you want your paint to stay fresh and usable for as long as possible, make sure to pour it back in its original container before storing it away.

Close the Lid Properly

Incorrect and correct way to close the paint can lid
Incorrect and correct way to close the paint can lid

One of the most important steps is taking care to close your paint can properly before putting it away. This not only ensures your paint stays usable and fresh for a long time but it also helps avoid unnecessary waste. Remove any dirt and dry paint from around the rim of the can in order to close the lid tightly. Tap the lid gently with a mallet or a hammer, but take care not to dent the metal. Use an old rag or towel to protect the metal rim from getting damaged. If air gets in the can, it will cause the paint to evaporate and dry out over time. If you already damaged the can and it does not close properly, there is a solution. Paint stores actually sell brand new paint cans and lids in all sizes. They come in quart, gallon and even bigger sizes. If your local store does not carry empty cans, they can definitely order them for you. With proper care and attention, you can keep your cans of paint sealed securely for months or years on  end!

2.5 gallon for paint
2.5 gallon container with lid

Label the Paint Cans 

As soon as you finish painting every room and have leftover paint, take some time to label the cans. This will not only help you find which colour is which, but it will also make it easier to order the same product when you need to buy some more. Whether you store multiple cans of paint or just one quart from a small project, labelling will save you time and headaches down the road. Even if you move out of your house, the next homeowner will be appreciative of your thoughtfulness. There are always nicks and scratches that need to be touched up by the new owners after you move out.

Don’t Let the Paint Freeze

Paint in the unheated garage
Don’t store paint in the unheated garage

When storing leftover paint, be aware of the risk of freezing temperatures. In cold climates, paints should never be stored in garden sheds or unheated garages. Low temperatures can cause paint to thicken, freeze and lose its best chemical properties. Instead, it’s best to keep your cans in a climate-controlled environment, such as a heated basement or a closet. This will ensure your paint stays in good condition and is ready for you to use when it’s time to paint again. So when you’re left with extra paint after a project, take the necessary precautions and store it in a warm environment, wher you know it will be safe. Your paint will thank you for it!

Donate and Dispose the Paint You Don’t Need

If you have too much leftover paint and are unsure of how to store it, there are still a few viable options. One option is to donate the paint to charities, such as church groups or local animal shelters. Charities rely on such donations in order to continue their valuable work. While you are at it, if you feel more charitable, why not offer to donate your labour to paint for a charity of your choice. Another option is to give the extra paint to your friends or family members, who may be able to put it to use for a project of their own. Alternatively, you could simply turn your extra paint into a DIY project and paint a closet or two with it. Ultimately, whatever you choose to do with the extra paint, just take care of it properly so that none of it gets wasted. After all, your excess paint is a valuable resource – one that should not go to waste.

Free leftover paint
Give away free paint to the local community

At Ecopainting, we occasionally give away unused paints to the local community. In the past we have had successful “Free Paint Giveaway” events and gave away hundreds of gallons. One of the beneficiaries of the giveaway, Kerry S, left this Google review for our company page:  “I called Karon at ECOPAINTING to see if they had any unwanted paints for a home painting project we were doing. She was very helpful, kind, and courteous and provided me with 3 cans of paint! This was extremely helpful to us as our walls had not been painted for 10 years and were in need of a fresh coat. Thank you ECOPAINTING!”

If too much time has passed or you have paint in colours you don’t like, dispose of it properly rather than trying to save it. Some Big Box stores will have bins where consumers can drop off old cans of paint with no questions asked. Check with your local Big Box store for more information. In Scarborough, Rona stores collect this paint and use it in the production of “recycled paint”


With just a little bit of effort, you can easily store your leftover paint so that it doesn’t go bad and is ready for you next time you need it. Be sure to paint all the paint back into its original container then close the lid securely, and label it with the colour name and room location. Never store metal cans in humid environments or frozen temperature areas. Check your paint every year or two, depending on how much is left in each container.

Never store metal cans in humid environments or cold temperature areas, and check the paint yearly or every other year, depending how much is left in each container. And finally, if too much time has passed or you have wrong colours, don’t try to salvage them…dispose!

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