Cleaning a paint bucket after you are done with painting can be tiring.
Most DIYers will often ignore the task and will end up getting the bucket to go wasted.
But if you take some time in cleaning or removing the paint, you can reuse the same old bucket for mixing up the paint colors, or for holding the paint cans.
For your next interior or exterior paint projects, you can even use this cleaned-up paint bucket for soaking up the paint brushes.
Or for storing the wet brushes when you want to come back and continue with painting the next day.
Cleaning the paint off of your bucket for reuse is also important to avoid getting the new paints contaminated.
So, make sure you spare few minutes and clean the paint bucket before it gets dried.
How to Clean Your Paint Bucket?
After you have completed your paint project you can follow these easy steps to wash your plastic paint bucket:
- Pour unused paint into the original paint can
- Completely wipe down the bucket from inside as well as outside using a paper towel
- Dispose of the towel carefully and wash the bucket with soapy water
- Using clean cotton cloth and rubbing alcohol (turpentine, or kerosene) clean the paint that may be left behind in the bucket
- You may not need the solvent if it’s a water-based latex paint – water alone can do the job
- But if its oil-based paint, using solvents to clean the paint completely is important
- Once all the paint has gone off, rinse the bucket with soap and water again
How to Remove Dried Paint from the Bucket?
Just in case you haven’t wiped the wet paint off your plastic bucket, there will be dried paint still residing.
The time and effort needed to remove such dried paint will mostly depend on the paint you have used.
If it’s the dried latex paint (and not an oil-based paint) on your old dirty pail it’s relatively easy and fast.
For dried water-based latex paint you can follow these steps:
- Scrape away the dried latex paint with a dull knife or spatula
- Soak a rag in rubbing alcohol and rub thoroughly over the leftover dried paint
- Let the alcohol sit for a few minutes and then using a cloth remove the dried paint
- Use a latex paint remover and a rag to remove any stubborn dried paint still left behind
- Finally, rinse the bucket with soap detergent and warm water
For dried oil-based enamel paint you can follow these steps:
- Scrub off the dried enamel paint with a dull knife, spatula, or a sandpaper
- Soak a rag in a paint stripper, lacquer thinner, or acetone – rub thoroughly over the leftover dried paint
- Let the stripper solution sit for a few minutes and then remove the dried paint
- Finally, rinse your plastic tub with a soap detergent and warm water
Can You Recycle Old, Dried-out Paint Cans?
Although there is a growing line of plastic-made buckets available, a paint can is typically made from steel.
These cans also have a tin coating that keeps them from rusting or becoming corroded.
This means that once the paint is fully removed, the can itself can last for many years because of its corrosion resistance property.
For steel cans, the ability to reuse them is a tempting prospect assuming you can fully remove the dried paint residue inside.
What follows are ten creative ways to recycle and reuse the paint cans that you own.
Remember, you can reuse them, again and again, thanks to the steel used in their construction.
1- Bug Feeders
You can create feeders with paint cans that resemble ladybugs or bumblebees with just a few colors of paint and some wings.
Use paint washers as the eyes, metal clothes netting and hangers can be used to create the wings, and all you need is a pencil or dowel attached at the front for the birds to sit.
If you have several paint pails and lids, you can create a unique flower design that makes the perfect outdoor decoration or one for your children’s room.
Paint the lid with a flower design and then add small wooden dowels that are also painted as the stems.
A glass vase that is transparent is the perfect way to display this unique flower design which makes for the perfect decoration.
If you are looking for creative hook designs to hang your jackets, sweaters, or coats, then you can use old paint cans to do the job.
Whether you choose to paint them and create bright, beautiful colors or leave them as they are stripped of the labels to show off a sheen, industrial appearance, they make the perfect hooks for your clothing.
In addition, you can store gloves, mittens, and other essential items in the cans themselves for use during the cold, winter months.
4- Jewelry Box
Clean out the paint can, strip away the label, and paint flowers, ribbons, or pearls on the outside.
This creates a nice jewelry box or tin that can be placed in your child’s room. Or, it makes a great gift for a new mom or bride.
They will love the care and attention you have put into decorating the new tin for their jewelry storage.
One of the most creative and simplest ways to reuse an old paint can is by turning it into a candle lantern.
All you need to do is punch some holes into the can by driving nails into it. You can create elaborate patterns that result in a remarkable design.
Plus, you can use different colors of paint to create a decorative result.
Keep in mind that you can also use small LED lights of different colors as well.
You will need a power source, but rechargeable batteries just might do the trick.
Now you can create an unforgettable atmosphere for nighttime patio parties.
6- Mail Sorters
Paint tubs and cans make for great storage products, but they can also help you sort the mail you receive.
This works especially well if you are running a home business.
Clean out the cans, put a label on each to identify the category of person, and you have now organized your mail.
The paint can lid is the perfect mirror holder.
You can use a glass or acrylic mirror and spray paint it with colors such as peach or gold.
Attach the mirror to the lid and you have a wonderful reflective surface that can augment your room.
Glass mirrors are sharp enough to see yourself.
And while acrylic mirrors tend to be duller and less sharp, they are cheap, lightweight, and easy to use for different reflective designs.
One of the easiest ways to recycle paint cans is by using them as hangable planters for flowers and plants.
Since most paint cans already have a swinging handle, you just need to clean out the can, fill it with dirt and plant the flowers inside.
The tin coating will keep the can from rusting, although you can add another coat of paint to the exterior.
In addition to hanging the can, you can also screw it into a fence or wall to create a unique decoration of different planters for your yard.
9- Random Item Sorter
Everyone has a junk drawer where a random collection of items is kept.
You can free up that drawer by using paint cans.
Clean up the can and add a label to identify the contents.
This is the perfect way to sort chargers, small tools, and the like.
10- Trash Cans
If you have larger paint buckets and cans, you can turn them into an office trash can or wastebasket.
They are perfect when you need a small trash can for a room or office.
If you want to dress up the paint can, find an attractive fabric and wrap it around as you would a rope.
This adds some class and style to your new wastebasket.
Can You Dispose Of the Old Empty Plastic Buckets?
In general, you may throw away empty paint buckets in the recycle bins at the curb that can be picked up on the next trash day.
But for doing this, you will need to make sure that these containers are empty and do not hold any leftover hazardous paints or chemicals.
If there’s any paint left behind after the completion of your project, you can either pour it into another container for storage or can harden and dispose of it safely as hazardous waste.
Depending on the state you live in, there may be collection points, schools, or community groups available that need the paint.
You can consider donating the paint along with HDPE pails there.
Based on the local waste management or city regulations many of these High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) made 5-gallon construction pails can be then recycled and reused for making various other products.
The overall disposal of and recycling process of these industrial and commercial products benefits by reducing its impact on our environment in terms of pollution.
Cleaning the paint bucket is relatively easy if it’s still wet.
However, the time and paint removal products you will need will also depend on the type of paint you have used – whether oil-based or latex paint.
Just make sure you use the right products and follow the correct steps before the paint gets dried.
Because it can save you good money if you plan to reuse this plastic bucket in the future.
Douglas Becker (aka Painter Doug) has over twenty years of experience as a painter in Adkins, Texas. At present, he resides in Florida with his family.
From painting multi-storeyed houses, condos, and apartments to large commercial buildings and small offices, he had served various customers in areas not only in Adkins but also in Southwest Florida, Sarasota, Naples, and many more. To know more about him check here.