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Consumer Reports: Tips on storing leftover paint

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Posted at 1:20 PM, Oct 12, 2021

(CONSUMER REPORTS/WTVF) — A lot of people tackled DIY projects at home during the pandemic. Some even renovated and painted, but what do you do with the leftover paint?

If you store it correctly, you can use it again either for touch ups or all new projects

“I didn’t want to throw it away because I spent all this money on sample cans,” said homeowner, Marissa Scheinfeld, talking about the leftover paint stockpiled in her basement.

“It’s the result of living in two different houses and really wanting to get the right paint color,” said Scheinfeld.

Marissa’s instinct to hold on to her paint is correct and leftover latex paint can last years, says Consumer Reports.

“Here in our lab we have paint that’s over 10 years old and because we stored them properly, we can still use them. You only want to keep water from evaporating from the paint and keep microorganisms from getting into the can,” said Rico De Paz, Consumer Reports Paint Expert.

Creating an airtight seal is key. First, get all the paint out of the channel where the lid locks in. Rico says a wet cloth wrapped around a flathead screwdriver gets the job done. Push it into the channel and drag it around the whole can several times. Then, gently hammer down the lid.

If you only have a small amount of paint left, it’s better to transfer the paint to a clean jar with a screw-on lid. Choose a container that’s not much bigger than the amount of paint you have left to avoid extra exposure to air.

CR says to label your paints by project, so you know what it is without having to open it.

Store your paint out of direct sunlight, anywhere from 50 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperature extremes can ruin the paint, so avoid anywhere that it can freeze or get too hot.

When it’s time to use that stored paint, try it out on a piece of cardboard just to be sure. It should go on easily, be uniform in color, smooth, and free of visible particles.

Marissa plans to hold on to her paints for as long as possible.

“I have a young son and I'd like for him to get a little older so maybe we can do projects together,” said Scheinfeld.

If you're not sure whether a can of paint is still good or not, there are some things you can look for: If the paint can is bulging or the lid is puffed up, that's not good. Also, if the paint doesn’t mix well or has a rubbery film on top, it probably needs to go.

Keep in mind, a lot of places won't let you just throw away old paint with your garbage. So be sure to check with your city or trash service before you toss it.