Use water bottles to store paint

One of the first things we did when we moved into our new home was paint. The old color scheme was more appropriate for a fast food restaurant than a living space.

Paint cans always seem to be left behind by previous owners and they tend to sit in a garage or basement for an eternity. So, when the previous owner asked if we would like her left over paint we told her, “no thanks,” and asked her to properly dispose of it.

What is one to do to with all the extra paint that is inevitably left over from one’s painting project? You can follow a few tips that we’ve listed in the past or check out Lowes’ tips for storage and disposal.

Another suggestion comes from Ron Hazelton, who suggests using water bottles for storage:

The key to paint storage is to minimize the amount of air in the container. So plastic water bottles of all different sizes are perfect for keeping leftover paint in good condition. Simply match the size of the bottle with the amount of leftover paint that you have.

Ron also suggests putting a couple of marbles in the bottles to make it easier to stir the paint (similar to a can of spray paint). I like the water bottle suggestion for getting rid of your mostly empty paint cans. It saves space and it will also save your paint.

28 Comments for “Use water bottles to store paint”

  1. posted by Peter on

    This must be a sign. My wife just mentioned to me about getting rid of the paint in the garage 🙂

  2. posted by Tom on

    The other benefit of using see-through bottles is that you can see the color of the paint without having to open the can!

  3. posted by Pete on

    What about leaks? We’re on a well. We tried storing drinking water in our basement in case of an emergency. We found that the original water bottles leak after a year or so.

  4. posted by Lor on

    Poison control experts warn against storing anything poisonous in food or beverage containers that might be accessed by children due to the possibility of them mistakenly ingesting the poison. Sadly I know a child who suffered a lifelong injury while he was a preschooler due to re-use of a water bottle for storing something poisonous.

  5. posted by Mer on

    In our area, we have a designated hazardous household waste facility for things like paint, solvents, batteries and anything else chemical. The problem is, it is only open on the 3rd Saturday of the month! So I really have be disciplined about putting it on my calendar and following through with the loading up of all that stuff and driving out there. But it’s worth it to know it’s not going into a landfill.

    If you are using latex paint and you don’t have much left over, put the open paint cans in the sun to dry out. I think you can also add sand or kitty litter to absorb it. It helps minimize the chance of spills while you’re getting rid of the paint cans.

  6. posted by Jacki Hollywood Brown on

    I realize you’re all discussing latex paint but children’s art paint (gouache) can be stored in water bottles with the “sippy” lid (gatorade/powerade bottles work best).
    They are easy for the kids to use and they don’t spill when you knock them over. It keeps the paint from drying out too.

  7. posted by contentinacottage on

    I love this idea. I am going to use the heavy duty plastic juice containers. It will be so easy to see what’s inside. Great suggestion. Thanks, Rosemary

  8. posted by Sharon J on

    Excellent idea and one I shall definitely be putting into use 🙂

    As for children ingesting it because of it being stored in a water (or other liquid) bottle, I suggest parents teach their children not to drink or eat anything that isn’t in the kitchen or that I or another responsible adult has given them the go ahead for. That’s all I did and they never touched anything that we stored in jars, bottles etc.

  9. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Lor — If you have small children, all toxic chemicals should be behind lock and key. A storage cabinet with a key kept in a secret location out of reach will keep kids away from all poisons. Most states in the U.S. require a cabinet such as this if you are adopting … so I think it’s a good idea for ALL parents.

  10. posted by Red on

    We used old peanut butter jars for paint and other things. Take the labels off, write on the outside with marker, and you have a sturdy clear plastic (or glass) container with a screw-on lid that you know is tight. If you go to my father’s workshop at his house, you’ll find paint, wire screws, certain types of soaps and solvents, and various other types of hardware sorted into peanut butter jars. They stack well too if you have loads of things to store.

  11. posted by Fit Bottomed Girls on

    That’s seriously such a good idea! We just renovated our downstairs and have lots of paint leftover. Putting it in a water bottle is perfect because you can see the color and it wouldn’t take up as much room as those bulky cans.

  12. posted by Lia on

    This will only work for water based paints. Anything else will have solvents in the paint that will eat away at the plastic in the bottles. For oil based paints, use glass containers!

  13. posted by Deb on

    Very timely post! I have been going through my paint stash because my nephew just bought a home and needs to paint. I found several gallon cans with a tiny amount of paint sludge in the bottom. They went straight to the trash just yesterday!

    As soon as I read this post, I went back and checked a plastic jar I had stored paint in a year ago. The jar was the kind that bullion cubes came in, so it is heavier than the water bottles I get here. Plastic is permeable. If you have ever stored unopened soda in the 2 liter bottles, you know that it goes flat after a certain amount of time, depending on the temperature. I thought if I used a more rigid bottle, it might delay the diffusion of gasses.

    The paint I had stored in the jar was still liquid after 1 year. I shook it easily to mix it because there was a slight airspace in the jar. I had stored it upside down in my Arizona garage for the last year, so it has been in 100+degree conditions for that time and still useable.

  14. posted by jmanna on

    In terms of getting rid of paint without wasting it, try contacting local community theater groups or high school theater groups. A lot of these groups are working with very little money and paint can be used for backdrops and set pieces

  15. posted by Harris on

    Good idea but we all have to get away from using so many plastic bottles. Glass is better and doesn’t leak. Our landfills are overfull….please think about what you purchase and how it is packaged.
    Lets “unclutter” our landfills too!!

  16. posted by Celeste on

    I second the glass jars–not only are you re-using them, you’re saving space by using a smaller container than the paint can. I would probably crate or box these jars of paint to minimize child access or accidental breakage, too. This is timely because I am about to embark on a repainting project.

  17. posted by Matt on

    This suggestion couldn’t have come at a better time, I’m just finishing up painting the house and I’ve got a bunch of extra paint to deal with. Thanks!

  18. posted by Michele on

    This was a great post and the comments are really informative as well.

  19. posted by Susan on

    I regretfully must report that the oh-so-cool rubbermaid roller top storage bottles for extra paint are no good at all.
    I went to great lengths to get some when I painted our place 3 years ago, and threw out the dried-up remains of the bottle and paint just thins morning. (sigh)

    I vote for using glass or the empty tins that Home depot sells in the paint dept. Just use clear packaging tape (the really clear, really sticky stuff) to tape and completely cover a paint chip of the paint, the year, and the room it’s in on the outside. That’s what worked for me before, and what I’m going back to now. (double sigh–those bottles were so COOL!)

  20. posted by MRW on

    Turn cans upside down for storage. Rubber-hammer to make sure they’re closed. I’ve kept paint for 14 years that way.

  21. posted by Odette on

    I’ve successfully used water bottles for several years for latex paint. The problem is — how do you transfer the paint from the jumbo paint can to the tiny mouth of the bottle?

  22. posted by Jim Deitzel on

    I recently finished a garage makeover. The one thing I was not able to accomplish was to ‘do something’ with all my old paint cans.

    This is a great idea. I know what I’m doing shortly.

  23. posted by Amanda on

    Uggggh, this is giving me terrible flashbacks- we just closed on our house in March.. And let’s just say every room needed some “updating.” We were doing our walk through on the morning of the close, and there were literally 30 different gallons of paint sitting in the basement. The previous owners left them because they thought we “might want to use them.” Suffice to say, our realtor contacted the sellers, and they ended up clearing out all of the paint before we moved in.

    Great tips, though. I’ll keep them in mind for future use.

  24. posted by adora on

    I suggest Rubbermaid Paint Buddy:

    They are so convenient, so you are less likely to put off touching up around your home. Each stores couple of ounces of paint, which is often more than you will ever need. Just throw the rest of the paint away, but be sure to write down the brand and number just in case.

  25. posted by Doug Ransom on

    It is not wise to use food and beverage containers to store chemicals.

  26. posted by Eve Martel on

    I use Mason glass jars to store paint.

  27. posted by gypsypacker on

    If you are eating yogurt from plastic cups with lids, or know someone who does, use these with a swipe of paint on the lid. A Pringles cap will fit on most 6-8oz yogurt cups. These hold just enough paint for touchup, or for mixing with glaze or another paint for redoing secondhand furniture.

  28. posted by Plastic Bottles on

    This is some great information to know. I didn’t know that oxygen would affect paint that much, very interesting.

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