December 7th, 2016

Tips for Making Latex Paint Cleanup Easy


After getting a great arm and upper body workout painting a room or a piece of furniture, you need to make sure you pay careful attention to your paint cleanup to preserve your tools and leftover paint. Just think of it as a good cool down and stretch after arm day at the gym!

Latex Paint Cleanup from Paint Brushes

Luckily, latex paints can be cleaned from paint brushes with soap and water. Good quality paint brushes, which give you the best painting results, need special care. First, scrape the bristles on the inside edge of the paint can to remove as much of the excess paint as possible. This helps save your left over paint and makes the next step easier.

Next, fill up a bucket or utility sink with warm soapy water. Use your fingers to work the soapy water through the bristles, while trying not to submerge the handle or the ferrule (the metal piece) of the paint brush. You can also use a brush comb to help you work the paint free – but be careful, because they are sharp!

Paint Brush Comb

Once all the paint has been removed from the brush, rinse the bristles in fresh water until the water runs clear. Spin the brush to remove excess water.

To dry, reshape the bristles and hang to dry. You can also wrap the bristles with heavy paper and lay them flat to dry. Once dry, you can store the brush in the original packaging or store in a dust free area.


Latex Paint Disposal

If you are finished with your project and do not want to keep your leftover paint, there are a few ways to dispose of it. You can check with your local authorities to see if there is a paint disposal unit or a donation location in your area. For example, my city has a paint “reblend” program, where donated, unused paint is consolidated, blended and filtered to make new paint colors that are free for residents to pick up.

If you don’t have a similar program in your area, you can generally let the latex paint dry out and then dispose of the can with the garbage. Cans with a small amount of water based paint can be left open to dry out in a ventilated area, away from children and pets. Alternatively, home improvement and paint stores sell packets of a paint hardener additive that you stir into the paint. Here’s an example of me using it in a plastic bin that I had used for paint storage.

Paint Hardner

Most importantly, never pour leftover paint or other chemicals down the drain. If you have any questions or concerns, be sure to contact your local officials.

Latex Paint Storage

Should you want to keep your leftover latex paint for touch-ups or another project, seal the top of the lid by tapping the top edges of the can and lid with a light hammer. If the rim of the paint can has dried paint that you can’t remove, add a layer of plastic wrap under the lid to help keep the sealed can airtight.

You can store leftover paint either in the basement or garage, as long as you keep it away from extreme temperatures and moisture. I live in a very warm climate, so I store my paint in my utility room to keep the Texas heat from effecting the chemistry of the paint.

Latex paint cleanup is simple once you know what to do. In fact, cleaning up the paint brushes and putting away the paint may be the most enjoyable part of the project – now you can just relax and enjoy your new look!


This post is sponsored by Glidden® paint, a PPG brand. All thoughts, opinions and paintbrushes are my own.