We’ve got the scoop on why old paint smells so bad and it is simply a buildup of bacteria and mould that causes it to smell like sour milk (OR MUCH WORSE). Bacteria sometimes gets into the paint from the manufacturer but it is most likely to becomes contaminated once opened. Although opened paint can last up to around two years (if stored properly), you can usually tell if it has spoiled by looking at the expiration date. If however, it gives off a foul, rancid smell you should probably get rid of it (see further down to dispose of stale paint responsibly). The stir stick method can also be used to test if the paint mixes smoothly. The paint should not separate or curdle when being swirled around with the stir stick and if you do a paint test on a small area, its texture should not be rough or lumpy.
Best practise for storing paint
Ugh! But what to do with leftover paint? The difficulty with storing paint in the original containers is that you don’t know when last it was used, what part of the house it was used for or how much is remaining. Also, storing paint in the garage can take up a lot of space and end up looking messy. Here are great tips on the best way to store leftover paint, so that the next time you need it for touch ups, you can easily find it:
- Pour leftover paint into an airtight container that is easy to open. A clear storage container like glass mason jars or old jam jars are perfect for small leftovers as it allows you to see the colour of the paint easily. A smaller container is also easier to carry around the house when doing touch ups and requires less storage space. Because there is less air in the jar, smaller jars keep paint fresher for longer.
- Label the jars with the paint name and brand, and where in the house it was used. It’s not a bad idea to keep a written or digital record of this information if you want to be “extra.”
- Store the paint jars in a cool, dark, dry place like the broom cupboard so that it stays fresh and is not affected by extreme temperatures. If the storage area is too hot the paint will dry up and if it’s too cold, the paint will separate and curdle.
Thank you Chrissy for this hassle-free system to store leftover paint: https://organisemyhouse.com/easy-way-to-store-leftover-paint-for-touchups-in-your-home/
If however, you want to keep paint in the original containers then be sure to write on the lid the date it was opened. Clean off any dry paint around the lid area so that it can seal properly and use a plastic wrap before sealing with the lid. Keep the lid clean to avoid dust and dirt falling into the container when you reopen it. Be sure to keep it in an area that does not receive too much direct sunlight. Ideally, leftover paint should be stored at a temperature between 15.5 and 26.5 degrees Celsius. Tips courtesy of www.xtraspace.co.za
Discarding stale paint
Paint alert! Paint should never be poured down the drain as it can contaminate our waterways. If the paint is really old then mix it with sand or cement and leave it to dry out completely. Once the solvents have evaporated and the paint has solidified it can be safely thrown out in a rubbish bag along with your normal refuse. Alternatively, find your local recycling depot to dispose of the paint for you.
If you have leftover paint that is still usable, offer it to friends, family and neighbours. Alternatively, consider donating to a charity that will most likely put it to good use. There are many worthy causes that would be grateful for a donation of paint.