Paint Products

What Makes it Hazardous?

Latex paint is water-based, non-hazardous and considered to be low in toxicity. An exception would be paint that contains mercury or other heavy metals to provide mildew resistance. Oil-based paints, stains and varnishes contain petroleum solvents which are flammable and can cause health effects if the fumes are inhaled or the paint is ingested. Fumes from solvent-base paints can accumulate in closed spaces and areas with poor ventilation.

Consumer Tips

  • Latex paint can freeze and become un-usable. If your latex paint is lumpy, it is no longer good.
  • If you can’t use or store your latex paint and related products before they freeze, give them to someone who can.
  • Latex based products clean up with soap and water; there is no need to use paint thinner.
  • Buy the right amount of paint for the job.

Disposal Options


  • For small amounts of latex paint, let it dry and put it in the trash; if there is too much left in the can, you will need to add cat litter, sand or dirt to speed the process and ensure complete drying. Please note: You MAY NOT put liquid wastes (even liquid under a dry top film) in your trash!
  • Household Hazardous Waste Collection Even accepts oil-based paints and related products, but NOT LATEX products.
  • Put empty cans from paints, stains and varnishes in your trash.


  • If your latex paint is still in good condition, never stored outside and is usable, recycle it at the City of Helena Latex Paint Exchange. This event is held in spring and fall.  Dates for these events will be posted here on our website, they will also be advertised on local media outlets as well.