June 2, 2024

How Acrylic Artists Can Safely Dispose of Painting Wastewater

Nancy Reyner
Acrylic painters face two challenges regarding disposal of acrylic paints and acrylic products. One issue is to avoid clogging your drain. And secondly, if you are environmentally conscious, you will want to do what’s best for the planet’s water supply.

While painting, I always unload paints and mediums from my brushes or knives onto paper towels, before putting those tools into water. This means that most of the paints and products end up on a paper towel instead of in my water bucket. When acrylic dries on the paper towels, and those paper towels get tossed into the trashcan, it eventually ends up in a landfill. There it is not harmful. The dried paint is non-toxic and will not hurt the environment. Our landfills are overflowing, but that’s another issue. And since my water bucket while painting stays fairly clear, my plumbing is safe from clogging. This is one small but effective step towards the disposal of acrylic paints, and whatever water is used during painting. Below I’ve listed even more solutions.


There is a new technology for wastewater disposal, that doesn’t require flushing water laden with acrylic paint solids down the drain. This technology allows the separation and removal of paint from the water, prior to disposing of the water. This process consists of chemically treating the contaminated water to cause the solids to flocculate, followed by filtering to remove them from the water. Golden Artist Colors, one of the leading manufacturers of acrylic paints and products, wrote an informative article on how to do this.

Here is a link to the full article.

For the process described above, detailed in Golden’s article, the materials and equipment needed are available locally and/or via mail order from the Vendor List found at the end of Golden’s article. The chemicals are hazardous so read label precautions and keep everything out of the reach of children. Safety goggles and a dust mask are recommended. The process described is intended for nonindustrial users of acrylic paints.
Golden recently developed an Easy-to-Use kit for artists to remove paint solids from studio waste water. It’s called the Crash Paint Solids Kit. This new kit includes everything necessary for artists to successfully clean out the damaging solids that might clog their drains or go into the waste stream untreated. Besides including the solutions in dosing bottles that easily allows for perfect additions to the waste water, there are filter papers, a stainless-steel colander that fits perfectly into the clear pail provided, as well as a gallon pail to collect the dirty waste water in. An additional refill kit has also been developed that simply includes the filter paper and dosing chemicals to keep the overall cost down for treating the waste water.They have also created a wonderful way to deal with paint solids.

Here is a link for more information about the kit.

Below is a Youtube video about Golden’s kit.

Click here to purchase the kit on Amazon.

OTHER WAYS for Acrylic Painters to Safely Dispose of Wastewater

Acrylic painters can safely dispose of wastewater generated during painting by following these best practices:

1. Use a Drain Screen:
Purchase drain screens from a dollar store and place them over the sink drain to catch paint solids. Clean the screen after each use to maintain effectiveness.

2. Dilute with Clean Water:
Add tap water to the paint bucket, pour a small amount down the drain, and repeat until all paint water is disposed of. This method helps dilute the paint water and facilitate safer disposal.

3. Utilize a Coffee Filter:
Tape a coffee filter over a small container and pour the paint water through it. The filter will capture paint solids, allowing for cleaner disposal of the water.

4. Try Clumping Cat Litter Method:
Place clumping cat litter in a 5-gallon bucket, pour the paint water in it, wait for clumping, remove clumps, and dispose of them in the trash. This method ensures none of the paint water goes down the drain.

5. Create a Sand and Gravel Pit:
Dig a pit with sand and gravel layers to naturally filter and cleanse the paint water before disposal. This method allows nature to purify the water.

6. Install Solids Separator on Plumbing Pipes:
A costly but effective option involves using a solids separator attached to plumbing drains to remove solids from paint water before disposal.

By following these methods, acrylic painters can ensure safe and environmentally friendly disposal of wastewater generated during their painting activities.

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Learn everything you need from your first brushstroke to the finished painting. Acquire techniques and ground breaking concepts to shape your artistic vision.

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