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Can Paint Go Down The Drain?

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Doing your own paint projects may be one of the best ways to be practical and to make sure that the project you are doing will end with the results that you want. However, one of the problems that a lot of DIYers have is knowing where to properly throw out the paint they used. A lot of them have asked the proper methods of disposal, and they've also asked if it was okay if the paint goes down the drain. We did the work to bring you the answer. 

Paint should never, ever be disposed of in the drain. You cannot flush paint down the drain because it may cause clogs in your system and it can cause environmental issues. There are specific disposal methods for paint, but it is always best to avoid washing and throwing it down the drain.

Now knowing that paint shouldn't be thrown out in the drain, you may have other related questions, such as paintbrush washing and other related things. We've done our research on some of these issues so do continue reading to learn more about how you can work with paints and dispose of them properly.

Old paint buckets industry background - Can Paint Go Down The Drain

Can Paint Go Down The Drain?

Old paint buckets

Going the DIY route for home improvement projects is a great way to save money and ensure that your design plans are followed. Doing your own paint job is one of these DIY projects a lot of people do because materials are readily available.

However, one problem that a lot of people forget when doing paint jobs is that it requires proper disposal. Some people just dump the paint down their drains. However, this is the improper way to discard your paint.

Paint should never be disposed of over the sink or in any drainage system. The number one reason for this is the blockage that hardened paint may cause. It will clog and back up your drain, and it will give you more problems that may cost you more than it should.

Another reason is that paint may contaminate your sewage system. It can cause health issues due to fumes and chemicals that may release into your house. Paint can also leech into your water system and contaminate the ground, causing environmental issues that we don't want to happen.

Is It Bad To Wash Paintbrushes In The Sink?

Male caucasian hand rinsing a one inch wooden handle paintbrush under running water in a white bathroom sink.

Just as it is bad to let paint get washed down the drain, washing paintbrushes in the sink is a big no-no. Rinsing your paintbrushes in the sink also results in the same issues as paint getting washed down the drain. It is not safe to wash your paintbrushes, paint rollers, trays, buckets, or any other accessories that have been used for painting in your sink.

It might make cleaning up a little difficult, but there are certain exceptions to this and you should be able to clean your paintbrushes without any problems.

If you are working with oil-based paints, you should never rinse your paintbrushes in the sink. For starters, oil and water do not mix, and doing so may create an even bigger mess in your sink and drain pipes. Secondly, oil paint can cause health and environmental issues if it mixes with the water in your system.

However, some water-based paints can be cleaned out in small portions over your sink. If you are using water-based latex or acrylic paints, try to get the paint out of your brushes as much as you can by wiping it off the side of your paint can. Next, try getting more paint out by brushing it off on old newspapers or rags. It is important to get as much paint off your brushes before washing them off with water.

Clean out the paint from your brushes by letting the paint wash out in a bucket of clean water. Most latex and acrylic paints will get cleaned off with this method. If there is just a little bit remaining on your brush, you can clean it off with running water in the sink as long as you are using a public sewer system. By this time, the paint is already diluted enough that it won't cause damage to your drains.

How To Get Paint Out Of Drain Pipes

Clogged drain pipes due to improperly disposed paint often do not have any other recourse other than replacing the pipes. This is because the paint that was dumped coats the inside of your pipes and as it dries, it builds up and causes the blockage. However, if the paint is still pretty fresh, you may have a few methods that you can try to get it out of your drain pipes.

1. Scrape it off

If you already have dried paint clogging up your drain, the first method you should try is to scrape off as much of the dried paint from your pipes. Use a scraper and scrape off as much paint as your hand can reach.

If you find that there is still a blockage even after scraping off your pipe, you might have to check your P-trap to see if paint has hardened in there as well. You should also check if there are other things blocking your drain pipe.

2. Flush it with water

Most water-based paints will wash off with water. If the paint was accidentally dumped into your drain and it is still pretty fresh, keep the water running to flush down as much fresh paint as possible. Hopefully, the water will dilute the paint and keep it from sticking to your pipes.

3. Try to use vinegar

Vinegar is sometimes used to clean off paint from paintbrushes, so this may be an option that you can look into when trying to unclog your drains from paint. It is an inexpensive and safe way to remove paint. However, it might not work all the time, especially if the paint has clogged and backed up your drain for too long.

If you'd like to try this method, simply heat up a cup of vinegar in the microwave for about 60 seconds. The vinegar should be a bit warm and you can try pouring it down the drain. Hopefully it can dissolve the small paint clogs in it. Finish the job by washing it down with running water completely.

How To Properly Dispose of Paint

Old paint buckets industry background

One of the things that should be remembered when doing paint projects is that paint should be disposed of properly. For starters, dumping paint down the drain can be illegal as it causes environmental hazards. The best way to clean up your old and used paint cans is to bring it to the proper waste facility.

Disposing of oil-based paint

Oil-based paints have chemicals that are environmental contaminants, making it illegal to just throw them in the trash. If you are using or have used oil-based paints before, these should be disposed of in a waste facility. Here are some ways you can do it:

  • Take your used oil-based paint to the closest hazardous waste facility. Most of these waste facilities accept paint waste disposal, making it easier for you to clean out those old paint cans.
  • You can also check out some take-back programs for recycling like PaintCare. They have a few states in which they accept old paint, stains, and coatings to take back for recycling. 

Disposing of latex paint

Latex paint, on the other hand, is not hazardous and you can throw it in the trash. Be sure to follow these guidelines:

  • If you still have a lot of excess paint left, consider donating it to organizations who need it. Latex paint is very flexible and can be used for many other uses. 
  • Check your local hardware or recycling centers if they have take-back programs. This lessens improperly disposed paint to be left out on the streets.
  • Keep it and store it properly. You should be able to use it for future projects.

However, if there is little paint left and disposal is the only way, you can do these things: 

  • Take the lid off your paint can and let it harden. You can add cat litter to your excess paint to quickly dry it out. 
  • Once the paint has hardened, you can place your paint can with the lid off to be picked up on your next garbage day. You can also take it to a recycling center if they accept old paint cans.

Final Thoughts

Many paint pot with paint brush. U

You may be doing your own DIY paint project or you've had some old paint lying around that you'd like to dispose of. Whatever the case, it should be remembered that paint should never be poured down the drain. It will cause big problems for you in the long run and it can harm your health and the environment.

Are you looking for more information about paint and going DIY? Look no further because we have a few articles that may be of interest:

How Much Does It Cost To Paint Basement Walls?

Does Paint Look Lighter Or Darker On Walls?