Sometimes it can take a bit of effort to put aside the time and energy to start painting a room.
You may find that you have some older paint of the same color, and you open the can only to find the paint covered in mold.
Paint covered in mold is actually quite common regardless of where you are living or painting.
The mold in the paint can happen for a few different reasons.
Let’s explore a bit more about whether or not this paint is still useable and what you should do with it.
Mold in Paint Can (Can You Still Use It?)
If you open a can of paint to find mold, do not use it.
Mold in paint is a very bad problem and using this paint on your walls is a bad idea.
The paint is not going to adhere to the walls properly, and if it does, it is almost as if you were coating your walls in a layer of mold.
It takes about five minutes of research to learn how dangerous mold can be.
This is not a substance that you are going to want to mess with.
The mold in the can should not be pulled out or skimmed off the paint.
Instead, you will need to dispose of the entire can of paint.
Although this may feel wasteful, it is not a smart idea to be putting this paint in your home, and it is dangerous for you to even use it.
There are a few reasons that this mold can happen.
Why Does Paint Get Moldy?
Have you ever seen the paint can openers sold in paint stores or the paint aisle of Home Depot?
If you think it is easy to get a top off of a can of paint, think again.
The tops of paint cans are put on very tightly, and that is done in an effort to make sure that the paint inside does not get moldy or become contaminated in any way.
Paint gets moldy when it is left exposed to moisture and water.
Condensation can happen inside the can of paint, and this will lead to even more mold and increased problems with the paint going bad.
Paint can also get moldy when it is left in an area where the temperature is constantly changing.
We don’t recommend storing paint in a place where it can reach more than 80 degrees.
In fact, keeping paint in that 50- to 70-degree temperature range will probably be the best-case scenario.
For many, this may not be possible, but you should try to avoid the extremes on either side of the temperature scale.
The paint getting moldy can usually be avoided by putting the top of the paint can on very tightly.
In addition, you will want to make sure that you always use a clean paintbrush and paint stick when working with paint.
If you happen to use a brush that has bacteria or other debris on it, you may unknowingly contaminate your paint.
This contamination may not be very apparent when it first happens.
However, when you store the paint, there is a chance that bacteria and mold will start to grow.
Be careful about putting anything in a bucket of paint.
Most great painters are going to pour the paint into a rolling pan so that they don’t risk any type of contamination of their large can of paint.
With the price one pays for paint, you can imagine how costly it is to contaminate a five-gallon bucket of premium paint.
How Do I Dispose of Paint?
When you look at the paint you have in the house and realize that all of it has become moldy, you are going to need to dispose of it.
Unfortunately, disposing of old paint is not always all that easy.
The first step is to determine what kind of paint you have.
Depending on your local ordinances, there are different requirements for disposing of different types of paint.
As great as paint can be to change the look of your home, it is not all that good for the environment.
There are many chemicals in paint which can get into the water supply, and this would be bad for everyone concerned.
Once you have determined what type of paint you are working with, you can start to make some decisions about how to dispose of the paint.
1. Water-Based Latex Paint
The most important thing to remember when disposing of water-based latex paint is that it needs to be completely dried out and solidified prior to throwing it out.
The paint will need to be left out and exposed so that it can dry up.
If you have an empty can of paint, you will still need to let it dry out completely before you dispose of it.
Some areas will require that you keep the can of paint outside of the garbage can.
This allows for the trash collectors to make sure that the paint is, in fact, completely dried out.
It is not all that difficult to allow latex paint to dry.
You will simply need to leave the top off of the can and then let it sit in an area which is well ventilated.
Depending on how much you are trying to dry up, the amount of time it will take can vary.
There are also paint hardening products you can use to try and help speed up the process.
We have had some luck by putting the paint in smaller containers to allow it to dry up a bit faster.
If your paint is covered in mold, we don’t recommend doing all that much with it.
Simply leave it be and let it dry out over time.
If you check your local recycling plants, they may give you some more information and details about properly disposing of these paints.
2. Oil-Based Paint
Getting rid of old oil-based paint is a bit more of an extensive process than getting rid of latex paint.
Oil-based paints are considered to be hazardous household waste.
Depending on where you live, there will be different requirements about how to get rid of this paint.
You may even have centers in your area that will collect this paint and help you recycle the cans.
Unfortunately, there are not that many disposal options for oil-based paints, and it truly is one reason that some people stay away from oil-based paints when they can.
If your can of oil-based paint is completely empty, you will be able to recycle it.
Since most painting projects leave us with a little bit of paint, you will then have some paint waste on your hands that needs to be dealt with.
Some local companies will help to handle waste in your area.
They may come to your home and take your old oil-based paints for you.
Unfortunately, this is going to come at a cost.
When dealing with waste like this, the costs can get quite high.
It is a good idea to estimate what the costs would be before having them come out to your home.
In some areas, there are certain dates of the year when you can get rid of or drop off oil-based paints that are left over.
These are important to take advantage of as they can end up saving you quite a bit of money.
Another option to consider is donating your leftover paint.
Is there someone in the local area who could use the paint on their home instead of it getting wasted and ending up in the wrong place?
Many people find that, when they move into a new home, there were paint cans left behind by the previous owner which take up space in the garage or the attic.
These paint cans were left to help the new owner with any touch-up painting projects, but they can end up creating a hassle if they are nearly empty or moldy.
Depending on how much paint you have to get rid of, talk to a local paint store and see what they recommend.
Chances are they have relationships with customers and painters who will give you a good idea of the places that will accept your old paint cans.
3. Spray Paint
Don’t forget that spray paint is paint as well, and it needs to be properly disposed of.
Spray paint can be relatively easy to deal with because the most important thing is that it needs to be empty.
The spray paint can is fairly easy to empty.
You can simply spray it on a piece of cardboard until you are able to empty the entire can.
You won’t want to leave any paint in the can because spray paint can sometimes explode.
They can have quite a bit of pressure inside it, and it is essential to make sure that the can is entirely empty prior to recycling it.
If you look on the side of the can, you should be able to see the instructions for how to recycle and how to dispose of the spray paint cans.
The process is not difficult, but it should be followed closely so that no people are injured and no other issues occur from the paint getting into the environment.
Is It Safe to Put Hardened Paint in the Trash?
If you have let your latex paints dry out and they are not entirely hardened, you can place them in a garbage can.
We typically like to peel the paint out and put the paint in a garbage bag.
Then you can get the can well cleaned up and follow local ordinances about how this can should be disposed of.
It can be time consuming to deal with cleaning up paint, but it is a responsibility that we all assume when we purchase paint.
The good news is that you won’t have to deal with this all that often.
Most people keep paint for a good ten years after doing a room in their house.
This is a project to save for a garage clean-out when you want to deal with a bunch of old paint all at once.
Hopefully, you now feel better about what to do with a moldy can of paint.
Make sure that you dispose of this paint safely and appropriately.
It is not only you and your family that you are trying to protect by dealing with old and moldy paint.
You must also think of the environment and the water supply when dealing with these issues.
If you are in doubt, one of the best resources would be to call your local trash company or government department.
They will have the guidelines readily available for you to follow.