Do you keep paint cans too long, and find yourself dealing with rusted paint cans? Then, you're in the right place, because I will show you how to save the paint!
How to deal with rusted paint cans
Have you ever opened a paint can only to find the top had become rusty? You have a few choices on how to deal with rusted paint cans.
- use the paint from the can and take a chance of the rustiness getting on your brush.
- you can pour it into a container to use for your current project.
- you can throw it out.
- or you can do what I’m going to show you.
If that has happened to you, you know it’s nearly impossible to reseal a can like this to keep your paint in decent condition.
Pin this Rusted Paint Can Tip!
Repurpose Laundry Detergent Jug
I’ve found that it’s better to stir it up, and carefully transfer it from the rusted paint can, into a detergent jug for safe keeping.
TIP: You must rinse out all of the remaining detergent. I generally fill with water, shake, empty, repeat several times. Then I fill the jug with water and let it set for awhile to loosen any buildup, then rinse, shake, repeat again.
Strain Old Paint
I have a couple of mesh paint strainers. You can pick them up at your local hardware store or on Amazon-- 1 Gallon Elastic Opening Strainer Bags 6 Pieces.
Using caution while stirring your rusted paint can is a must! You don't want those rusty bits dropping into the paint can.
You can see toward the end of the can, the paint is rather goopy, but because I used the strainer, I know there are no clumps in the jug.
I decided it would be less messy if I pushed the strainer further into the jug. You could pour the paint from your rusted paint can into a bucket with a paint strainer, and THEN into the detergent jug to make things easier.
Clean Up The Messy Jug
You can see that the spout sort of makes it difficult for the paint to get in the jug. I wiped it off and went on with my painting.
The next time I wanted to save some paint, I used a different jug. I removed the spout in order to get the paint into it.
I didn’t strain this can of paint because it was a brand new gallon of paint.
After I poured the paint into the jug, I replaced the pour spout to make it easy to pour paint the next time I use it.
Mark Your Laundry Jug With the Proper Description
I used a marker to identify the brand, type, and color of paint.
With the ERA jug, you can even see the amount of paint as well as the color of paint in the little window. You can't do that in a rusted paint can.
I have identified the color on this one as well.
Perhaps you're on team "store paint in a mason jar". I am not of that persuasion because I store my paint wherever I can find a spot. If stored up high, I can just see that mason jar tipping off the shelf and landing with a big SPLAT onto the floor.
No More Rusted Paint Cans
So, if you have a surplus of laundry detergent jugs and are a paint hoarder like I am, you’ve got it made!
This pallet top table was painted with my oldest batch of paint, and LOOK, it's stored in an old plastic milk jug.
Do you have a great tip for storing paint? If so, please leave it in a comment below.
How about using some of that old paint to make your own DIY Chalky Paint Primer? The best part about making your own primer, means that your first topcoat will go on perfectly because you've already used THAT color as a primer! It's a win/win!
What a great idea! We built a house three years ago and had leftover paint still in the cans. I needed to do some touch ups and of course the cans were rusty and crusty and I was concerned about rust flakes dropping into the can and tainting the color where it wouldn’t match. This was time consuming, but I had the idea to carefully stir the paint and then used a cheap plastic turkey baster to siphon the paint into clean plastic containers with screw on lids. I did have to use one glass jar as I didn’t have enough plastic ones on had (it was about a third of a gallon and I used a container from mixed nuts that I thoroughly washed but it wasn’t large enough). I don’t use laundry detergent that comes in jugs but it never occurred to me to use a gallon plastic water jug, as we used distilled water for humidifiers and they are already clean! Thanks so much for sharing!
Thanks for a quick chuckle as I imagine you using a turkey baster in the paint. That is soooo clever of you! Yes, that one paint I have has been in a water jug for more years than I can count. And it's been stored in my attached garage.
I'm so happy to hear that you figured out how to save your paint.
I ladled the paint through some pantyhose into an empty detergent container. using a disposable plastic cup with the bottom cut out as a funnel, which eliminated the post clean-up. I was worried that the mesh would restrict the flow, but it went through as quickly as I could ladle it.
Thanks for the tip!
Awesome John! Thrilled that your method worked out so well for you. It's the little things that make me happy!
I have a rusted can with orange paint, I think in the can. The top has rusted out and has let water in on top of the paint. The can is stuck to the concrete floor and I need advise as to how to remove it.
I would saturate the surrounding area with water mixed with some dish detergent. A metal putty knife or small shovel may help you pry it off the floor.
Gail, this is ingenious! Laundry containers are so sturdy and have the removable spout which makes them ideal. Thanks so much for this tip.
Thank you Lisa!!!! Happy to give you great ideas.
Love the idea for paint Storage except for 1 thing; With Paint cans you can stack them as seen in pic. With Laundry Jugs or eater/milk gallons you can't so they require more shelf floor etc type space. Also, question? Can paint go bad if in milk or water jug as they are more or less transparent? Love your emails.
Tammy, You have a point about the storage, but they are slimmer than paint cans, so I don't find it an issue. 🙂
That teal paint has been around since I painted my daughter's bathroom more than 10 years ago. It is in a milk (or water) jug. I used it last year on a few projects, I'm confident that it is still good this year for my next small project.
ps so happy you're enjoying my emails!
What an awesome idea. Thanks for sharing, I will definitely do this with my leftover paint.
I'm happy to share my tips with you. I know not everyone keeps paint as long as I do. But even so, it's a lot easier to open a laundry jug than a paint can. 🙂
This is soooo smart! Thank you so much for sharing...will definitely start saving my laundry soap jugs. Hope I can find some with the removable spouts!!
I am so happy that you found this article about rusted paint cans helpful! 🙂 I love helping out my friends.
I don't have any rusty cans, but I've found that old paint doesn't dry very well. It seems to remain tacky for days
That's odd. I have paint that is probably 10 years old (that aqua milk jug is still hanging around!) I keep paint for a long, long time and never noteiced that before.
This is super-smart. Thanks for the tips!
You're so very welcome. I'm always happy to help others with my DIY tips.
I use smaller containers to store my extra paint. They must be airtight-dishwashing soap bottles work pretty well, but NOT cottage cheese containers.
After watching what you need to clean up on your jug, I think I would strain first and add to the jug last. Wastes a bit of paint but ugh! No clean up. Thx!!! Love your posts!!
I use butter dishes with lids for short term storage while painting additional coats. hahaha that was one jug, I've filled many many more without such a mess. If you make a mess, simply put the lid on and use a garden hose to clean up any spills. OR, be more careful than I was for that photo. lol
I appreciate you stopping by!
I opened paint I want to reuse but there are rust chips in the paint. Paint not very old 3 yrs and it’s been stored in the house. Can I strain this paint so I can use it again. As FYI.. the only paint cans that rusted on me were the Sherwin Williams cans.. thanks for your help. Gail
How strange Gail, that they were a particular brand and were stored in the house. I would definitely strain them, and store them in the jugs. I NEVER throw paint away. That milk jug paint, was around for years and years, and I did tons of small projects with it.
Absolutely brilliant! Thank you superwoman for saving my day.
wohooo! So happy you found this life hack helpful! I love pouring my paint and replacing the cap. Oh so easy!
I end up with old cans of paint given to me all the time. (Along the lines of "if you build it, they will come".) They seem to multiply! Just went through several cans that had unreadable labels and rusty lids to see what was there.. Used a wire brush to get the majority of the rust off, then a quick wipe down with a rag before attempting to open them. Some were almost brand new inside, but had been left out in the rain for a season or two, so it was worth it to me to rescue them.
Awesome save Margaret! I hate to waste any paint at all!
Just saw your idea for opened paint cans!! Brilliant! You have some of tbe most unique and terrific ideas anybody could come up with. I learn soo much from you! Thanks
Thanks so much Barbara! I still love this idea. Many people use mason jars, but I know that would be disastrous in my garage. 🙂 I appreciate your kind comment!!
Thank goodness I Googled my rusty can problem and found this,but how did you get the spout off!?
Yay! Lindsay. I love it when google helps out my friends.
Some spouts are removable others are not. I love storing paint this way-it's so handy. Many people use mason jars, but I can't keep glass jars in my garage! Yikes, that's an accident waiting to happen. 🙂
What if the rust falls into the paint as you open the lid? Will the rust get strained out as I pour it into the strainer bag? or is my paint ruined?
If you're trying to save the paint for projects, I would strain it and not worry about it. If you feel like it's not worthy, use it as a primer on upcoming projects. Paint has to be pretty far gone before I throw it out.
If you're painting walls, you may want to buy some new paint. 😉
There's lots of great tips here! We just introduced a product called Cansealid that solves the exact frustrations you're all having. It's a durable, flexible silicone lid that fits tight on your large paint cans. It keeps your paint fresh with its patented air tight seal, it's easy to remove because your paint doesn't stick, and it's stackable as it has a ridge around the edge so it doesn't take up much storage space. It's also reusable. Check us out! http://www.cansealid.com. We're available to buy on amazon.ca.
We're also now available on Amazon.com
Interesting idea, but not practical for someone who paints regularly. The opening on a detergent can is far too small to mix. It is almost laughable to see the paint in the Clorox bottle. Take it from a professional, do not try this. This is a decent amateur solution, but the pros would use an old pickle jar, jelly jar, etc. Glass versus plastic. You need to be able to mix your paint before you do anything else. Also, Sherwin Williams sells plastic paint cans with many of their high ends paints now.
Furthermore, plastic is not a green solution either. Do what your grandfather did, put the paint in the pickle jar.
I totally disagree!
I have a huge amount of paint on shelves. If the jug falls off the shelf, no harm, no foul. If a pickle jar falls off the shelf, HUGE mess!
It is a green solution for me.
I shake the jug, pour out what I want to use in a paint cup and I'm good to go! Glass is soooo not a solution for me. My grandad didn't have plastic jugs to use, that's why he used glass.
I would never use a bleach jug to store paint. That photo is NOT of paint jugs, it's in my laundry room showing all the detergent jugs I had on hand.
by the way, why would you MIX paint in a full can or jar? I would pour it out in order to mix what I want to use. I use the paint for diy projects, pouring out only small amounts at a time.
thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment! It's helpful for others who stop by later.
A better solution than detergent jugs , which someone has also mentioned below, is the large size plastic coffee containers; they have large openings, snap on plastic lids, they never rust, and best of all they have molded in grip like handles!! Both Maxwellhouse & Folgers have this style; the large opening is great for mixing; Last year when looking for paint, noticed Dutch Boy brand had plastic cans. As these cans are not transparent, just pencil in a label identifying oil, or latex, place last used, indoor/outdoor and date, too if you like and tape it on lid! Blessings, fellow painters!!
I totally disagree about the coffee containers being a better solution. 🙂
I use these jugs for long term storage in a messy garage. Can you imagine if the coffee jug fell off the 3 ft shelf? what a mess!
Happy the coffee jugs work for you .
Nice idea. Got here after looking on how to store paint. But the biggest problem I see about your re-purposed new containers that it is hard to stir the paint through the narrow neck after they have been lying around a couple of years, and you need to use it. Still a lot better than not having any paint at all when you need it.
thanks for stopping by My Repurposed Life and taking the time to leave a comment. I've had some in one of my jugs for over 2 years, and I simply shake it after it's set for a while. My favorite thing is that I can pour my paint with very little mess.
Next year this time you just know we'll be seeing paint brands using your can redesign. I'm asking my friends to start saving me their laundry containers. So darn smart. You, not me.
Ask a friend who has cats to save those big clear litter bottles for you. Use a plastic funnel to fill them. They're translucent, but you can see the amount and color through them, and they are usually square, so will line up neatly on your shelf. 🙂
Thanks for your suggestion! I actually have those, but mine are too large. I wish I could find a great use for those. I just throw them into the recycling bin.
My ERA bottles have a little "window" that allows me to see the color and the amount of paint. That works for me for now.
Save the lid(s). Has paint color, manufacturer, should you need more.
ps - helps to write store name and room you used the color in, if close to other colors used in the house. Finding Behr touch-ups blend beautifully, on matte paint, even years later.
I have been using Maxwell House coffee containers with your plastic down which I get from either Sam's Club or Costco sugar about a gallon the lids do not rush the page does not go bad I do cut the labels off and put it take one to the outside of the containers so you know what you have we're ready to go when pain at a later date with no rust
Use bigger empty plastic bottles of water. Just dry them out, fill them up, cap them, write on the plastic bottle the drying time, manufacturer and code of paint..
Many gallons today are made in Chi... they rust quicly as they lack anti rust treatment
Transfer your paint as the gallon is new, dont wait till its rusted
GREAT IDEA Thank you for sharing.
Patricia in Denver
I just opened a gallon of white semi gloss and the can was rusted. I closed it up again and planned on buying another can. Thank you for this great money saving tip!
Yeah, I don't like to store my 2 paint cans upside down. And the rust gets on paint cans because the lids aren't put back on tight enough, letting air and moisture inside the cans. I wash the paint off the lid after I've used it (I only use water-based paint I hate oil), wash it off the top of the can (I save lots and lots of old rags for cleaning), then everything is nice and clean to put the lid back on the can. Then I hammer it on with a rubber mallet (don't use a metal hammer, that's great way to dent the edges of your can). Sometimes if it's stubborn to go on I'll use a flathead screwdriver in the crevass of the lid and hammer on that. But cleaning the paint off the lid and can before putting the lid back on can save a lot mess, and you get sudden "splats" of paint off the edge of the can as you hammer the lid back on. Taking the time to be clean now can certainly be of great benefit for future use of things. I don't get any rust on my cans.
I meant to say, "save you getting sudden "splats" of paint....."*
All great tips! This particular can was inherited by me. I was not the one that let it get in such bad shape. 🙂
thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment.
Would be handy if paint companies just put it in jugs in the first place!
I totally agree Karen! 🙂
Dutch Boy is the only one I know of that does have plastic jugs. But their lids are difficult for these old hands to open!
thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment!
Smart, smart, clever, thrifty, eco-friendly idea. Recently I had numerous paints left over from repainting the house. I bought a case of 24 quart canning mason jars for $8. Poured my paint in them, labeled the top of each jar and stored them back in the case in which I bought them. They stack neatly on my storage shelves with no debris inside each jar & the color easily visible
Julie @ follow your heart woodworking
I was just asking at HD the other day if they had plastic "cans" to store paint in. (They didn't) This is brilliant, Gail. I'd add one thing, a sample colour swatch somewhere, either on the lid or taped to the side. Thanks, now to find some detergent jugs, they take so long to use up!
I LOVE clever people like you, who make life SO much easier for unclever [is that even a word? :] people like me. Thanks bunches!!
Thank you Chris! I'm happy to share any and all pieces of advice and tidbits. 🙂
Brilliant. Simply brilliant!
Great idea! It certainly makes it easier to pour!
Nice! We use those orange juice containers from the dairy case--now that already made oj is cheaper than the frozen! They are clear, so we can see the color, and we use a homemade funnel to get it in there. Your idea is better, because the neck is bigger.
great idea for dealing with rusted paint cans! i think my Dad does the same thing.
Do you store only water-based paints in plastic containers? The salesperson @ Home Depot wouldn't sell me a plastic paint tray to use w/ oil base b/c of the possible reaction of oil on plastic.
I only use water based paints. I know very little about oil based paints, and had no idea you couldn't use a plastic paint tray with them. thanks!
Aren't you smart! I have been buying the pods for my laundry detergent, and I bet those containers would work as well. Great tip Gail!
Now, this is smart! Wish you were next door; I recycled several detergent containers last week.
Have you tried just storing your paint can upside down. The paint doesn't settle to the bottom as bad and the lack of air at the top keeps it from rusting.
Another trick I learned is to just wipe a smigen of petroleum jelly on the edge when I open the can. It you can wipe down the rim of the can very easy that way.
Yes, I have been known to store them upside down, but not 100% of the time. Some of the paint has been given to me, as was this can that was so rusted.
Great tips for storing paint, thanks for sharing!
Definitely a GOOD IDEA, I'll have to try it. Special mesh for paint straining...couldn't find any, but I use old pantyhose or tights that are the foot and leg cut off and it works great.
Toule, from fabric store, is also good/cheap.
Well now...that makes me want to purchase laundry soap...
But I won't. I still make my own. Just made a batch the other day.
But those jugs are awesome for lots of stuff.
I hate the rusty bits that form on the can too.
Have a good day...it is cool here this morning.
A nice break from the heat!
Awesome idea....I tried the plastic coffee containers but I guess the lid does not seal tight enough when it snaps on .....so that did not work well. Now I have new life for my detergent bottles.
The plastic coffee containers, particularly those with handles, are VERY handy for using to pour paint into when painting. Much easier than dragging a gallon can around up and down ladders. They also make pretty good birdhouses as the lid snaps off for easy cleaning out old nests.
Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co.
Oh Gail, I really like this idea! I have a couple of old rusty paint cans in the garage right now. Unless it goes bad, I just can't throw paint away either. Definitely going to try this!
What a great tip! Thank you!
NOREEN MAGUIRE TERLECKI
I JUST LOVE YOUR PAGE..I LOVE TO SEE WHAT YOU HAVE DONE AND ALL THE GREAT TIPS YOU HAVE...
I don't have any great ideas for storing paint but just wanted to say.....Wow what a great idea and yes I am a paint hoarder as well. I will definitely start collecting some of these jugs. And oh the spouts, just made my life so much easier!! Thanks for sharing
Wow...this is nothing short of brilliant!! I would have never thought of this and now it makes me want to go through people's trash to find these containers. The liquid soap with the spout is the perfect solution, I will have to start doing more wash now, just to collect the containers!!