Paint Disposal

Leftover paint accounts for nearly 85% of all the waste material received by the Dane County Clean Sweep program on an annual basis. Over 1/2 of all the waste material received annually is latex paint, and management of this non-hazardous material consumes nearly 1/3 of the Clean Sweep annual budget. In order to sustain our program amidst rising disposal costs and dwindling public funds, it is necessary that we place an increased emphasis on latex paint management at the point of consumption.

Taking your latex paint to Clean Sweep for disposal should be your option of last resort. If you find you absolutely cannot solidify and dispose of latex paint waste on your own, Clean Sweep will still accept it, subject to the following conditions:

  • Latex paint must still be in a liquid state
  • Cans must be at least 1/2 full

Clean Sweep Schedule

Clean Sweep provides an opportunity for residents of Dane County to safely dispose of hazardous waste.

Tuesdays - Fridays: 7:00 - 2:45
Saturdays: 8:00 - 10:45
Closed Sundays, Mondays and Holidays.

We are now (as of May 1st 2013) located at
7102 US Hwy 12, Madison WI 53718,
(Beltline/12/18 East toward Cambridge)
across from the Yahara Hills Golf Course at the Dane County Landfill.


View the Clean Sweep Fee Structure

Paint Re-use Option

If you have nearly full cans of latex paint in good condition, don't waste them! Clean Sweep will accept them for placement into our product exchange!

Minimize your waste

  • Buy only what you need to get the job done. Store retailers can help you calculate the right amount (or check out one of the paint calculators on the right side of this page) or check coverage rates of various products. In general, one gallon of paint will provide one coat of coverage for 300 square feet.
  • Use it up - apply another coat.
  • Give it away to someone who can use it: friends, relatives, neighbors, churches, theatrical groups, high schools, recreation departments or community organizations. Only give away paint that is in good condition and is in its original container with an intact label.
  • Store paint properly between uses:
    • Protect from freezing
    • Place a piece of kitchen plastic wrap on the surface of the paint to keep it from drying out or forming a skin
    • Put the lid back on the can and tap firmly into place

Tips for proper disposal of paint

First check the label to determine what type of paint you have. Latex paints are non-hazardous and soluble in water - look on the label for the words 'latex' or 'acrylic' and directions that specify to clean up or thin with water. Oil or solvent-based paints and stains are combustible and present particular hazards ' look on the label for the words 'oil' or 'alkyd' and directions that specify to clean up or thin with mineral spirits or paint thinner. Left-over oil or solvent-based paints, whether liquid or solid, should be taken to the Dane County Clean Sweep Facility at 7102 US Hwy 12, Madison for proper disposal. Never dispose of oil- or solvent-based paints and stains in your trash.

Because latex paint is non-hazardous, it can be disposed of with your regular trash, provided that it is completely solidified. Never dispose of liquid paints in your trash. Several methods to properly solidify latex paint are listed below:

  • Remove the lid and let the paint dry out in the can; protect from freezing and rain as well as curious children and animals. This only works when an inch or less of paint is left in the can and is most effective in warmer months.
  • Mix latex paint with an equal amount of cat litter, stir in completely and allow to dry.
  • Mix latex paint with a latex paint hardener; stir and allow to harden. Paint hardener can be purchased at your local hardware store. Follow the directions on the package.
  • For larger volumes of latex paint, line a cardboard box with a plastic bag. Add an absorbing agent such as kitty litter, sawdust or shredded newspaper to the box. Pour the paint into the box so that it forms a thin layer (about 1 inch deep) and allow the paint to harden. Repeat this process until all of the paint has hardened.

Once the latex paint has hardened or solidified, it can be disposed of with your regular trash. However, make sure the lids are removed from the paint cans when you set them at your curb, or place them in your Trash Cart if you have automated trash pickup. If you live in the City of Madison, then dried latex materials can be brought to the Streets Department east or west full-service drop-off sites for disposal.

Painting Resources on the web