Photo: How to clean paint brushes and dispose of paint

Store used paintbrushes in a sealed plastic bag in the freezer for up to a week or two. (Credit: Microsoft Images)

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

  1. Never dispose of half-used paint cans in your household garbage where they could end up contaminating soil and waterways.
  2. 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.
  3. Nova Scotians can return leftover paint to any of the province's ENVIRO-DEPOT™ facilities, for free!
  4. 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.
  5. Earth911 lists drop-off depots in Canada.
  6. 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.

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