CONSUMER REPORTS — Homeowner Marissa Scheinfeld has lots of leftover paint stockpiled in her basement.

“I didn’t want to throw it away because I spent all this money on sample cans,” said Scheinfeld. “It’s the result of living in two different houses and really wanting to get the right paint color.”

Marissa’s instinct to hold on to her paint is correct, and leftover latex paint can last years, says Consumer Reports.

“Here in our lab we have paint that’s over ten years old and because we stored them properly we can still use them. You only want to keep water from evaporating from the paint and keep microorganisms from getting into the can,” said Rico De Paz, Consumer Reports Paint Expert.

Creating an airtight seal is key. First, get all of the paint out of the channel where the lid locks in. Rico says a wet cloth wrapped around a flathead screwdriver gets the job done. Push it into the channel and drag it around the whole can several times. 

Then, gently hammer down the lid. If you only have a small amount of paint left, it’s better to transfer the paint to a clean jar with a screw-on lid. Choose a container that’s not much bigger than the amount of paint you have left to avoid extra exposure to air. 

CR says to label your paints by project so you know what it is without having to open it. Store your paint out of direct sunlight, anywhere from 50 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperature extremes can ruin the paint so avoid anywhere that it can freeze or get too hot.

When it’s time to use that stored paint, try it out on a piece of cardboard just to be sure. It should go on easily, be uniform in color, smooth, and free of visible particles.

Marissa plans to hold on to her paints for as long as possible.

“I have a young son and I’d like for him to get a little older so maybe we can do projects together,” she said.