If you're using low- or no-VOC (volatile organic compound) paint, clean up is easy.
Latex paints are water based, so brushes come clean with a little eco-friendly dish soap and water. Oil-based or alkyd options will require paint thinner. If you're dealing with the latter, check hardware stores for less toxic thinners that contain citrus oil-based solvents.
If you're doing a multi-day job, don't wash your brushes or rollers at the end of each day. Wrap them in a plastic bag. They'll be fine until the next day. Stopping for longer than a day? Store the sealed plastic bag in the freezer for a week or two.
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Six tips to discard paint safely
- Never dispose of half-used paint cans in your household garbage where they could end up contaminating soil and waterways.
- Donate leftovers to a local paint exchange program. Recovery depots across Canada take deck paint, primers, wood stains, oils, and varnishes. Most, but not all, also accept empty paint cans.
- Nova Scotians can return leftover paint to any of the province's ENVIRO-DEPOT™ facilities, for free!
- Outside of Nova Scotia, see if your province belongs to ProductCare. They list recyclers and disposal drop-off depots for household paint and small appliances, pesticides, CFLs and more.
- Earth911 lists drop-off depots in Canada.
- Ask your paint retailer if they take back old paints for recycling.
And check store shelves for recycled paint products. Boomerang, for example, reclaims leftover paint and re-blends and reprocesses them to make a new product.