5 On Your Side

Store your paint like this, and it will last for years

Posted October 26, 2021 5:13 p.m. EDT
Updated October 26, 2021 5:26 p.m. EDT

— As autumn arrives, many people consider sprucing up their homes, often with paint. But what to do with the leftovers?

"I didn’t want to throw it away because I spent all this money on sample cans,” said Marissa Scheinfeld.

She knows she might need the paint for touch-ups or even a new project.

There is good news. Consumer Reports says leftover latex paint can last years.

“Here in our lab, we have paint that’s over 10 years old, and because we stored them properly we can still use them," said Rico De Paz, the paint expert at Consumer Reports.

The key is to create an airtight seal.

De Paz says it starts with getting all of the paint out of the channel where the lid locks in.

Use a wet cloth wrapped around a flathead screwdriver, then drag it around the can’s channel several times.

When the channel is clean, gently hammer down the lid.

If there is only a small amount of paint left in the can, Consumer Reports says it’s better to move it to a clean jar with a screw-on lid. Choose a container that’s not much bigger than the amount of paint to avoid extra exposure to air.

Label paints by project to make touchups easy.

Then, store sealed cans out of direct sunlight, anywhere from 50 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Temperature extremes can ruin the paint.

When it’s time to use that stored paint, try it out on a piece of cardboard.

It should go on easily, be uniform in color, smooth and free of visible particles.

Latex paint that has gone bad can be disposed of along with household trash once the can is completely dry. To hasten that process, add sand, kitty litter or shredded paper to the paint and leave it in the sun.

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