Can You Put Watercolor Paint Down the Drain?

Watercolors are an artist’s and children’s favorite. Watercolors come in a variety of colors and once the paint is dry, it can simply be washed away with water. But what do you do with the waste water and how do you dispose of it? Can you put watercolor paint down the drain?

Most watercolor paints can go down the drain. The important part is those that can go down the drain don’t contain toxic ingredients, such as Cadmium or Cobalt. You can simply check the packaging of your watercolors or check with the manufacturer if it’s not stated on the box. If your paints do in fact contain some toxic heavy metals, it is better to dispose of them at a local waste facility.

Has this cleared up your confusion? Continue reading the article for a more in-depth explanation on the topic of whether can you put watercolor paint down the drain and if there are other options for disposal. I talk more about cleaning up after watercoloring, what can you do with watercolor water, and more!

How do you clean up after watercolor?

Can You Put Watercolor Paint Down the Drain or Sink

To answer your question of “can you put watercolor paint down the drain”, we need to first see how you clean up after watercolor.

Watercolor is a very fun medium to work in, but it can be a bit messy. So, how do you clean up after watercolor?

The main thing to remember when cleaning up after watercolor is that you don’t want to use soap. Soap can leave residue on your brushes and also your palette, if not rinsed off properly.

So, what should you use? Water!

Yes, plain old water will clean up your palette and brushes nicely. The best method I’ve found for cleaning my brushes is to rinse them in a cup of water and then squeeze out any excess water with my hand – I usually wear rubber gloves for this step.

I then let them air dry overnight before using them again. Brushes can be delicate so do not force the drying process!

As far as cleaning your palette goes, just rinse out your palette with running tap water, rub dry with a paper towel, or let dry overnight completely before putting the next color on.

How to dispose of watercolor paint water? Down the drain?

How to dispose of watercolor paint water

One way to make the disposal of watercolor paint water easier is to use only a small amount of rinse water when painting. When you use less water while painting, you will have less to dispose of when you are finished.

Ok, let’s now see how to dispose of watercolor paint water. While it’s not the worst idea to pour it down the drain, there is a safer way to do it instead of just washing everything in the sink.

The best way to dispose of watercolor paint water is to transfer it into a bigger container and let it sit for several days so that all of the pigment can settle out of suspension.

The water will be clear at this point but will smell like paint. You can then pour this down the drain, and flush it with hot water after doing so.

When you have emptied all of the water from the container, you will be left with just the paint pigment at the bottom. You can simply wipe this away with a paper towel and throw it away.

This process makes sure the pigment doesn’t go down the drain and it is much safer for the environment and your plumbing.

And don’t remember to check the packaging in case your watercolors have metals like Cadmium in them! You should dispose of that watercolor paint water at your local waste facility!

Is It Okay to Wash Paint Brushes in the Sink?

And it’s a question that can be answered with a resounding “Yes!” In fact, I think washing your watercolor brushes in the kitchen sink is one of the easiest ways to keep them clean and ready for use.

Watercolor brushes are different from other types of art brushes because they’re made of natural hair or synthetic fibers.

I recommend that you do not use soap on your brushes, but just plain water instead. Soap will strip away some of the natural oils from your brush bristles and cause them to become stiffer over time.

The one thing that I do is make sure that I rinse the water out of them thoroughly and then allow them to dry in an open area. This will keep them from getting mildewed or damaged by moisture.

What to do with watercolor paints water?

Watercolor paints are made of pigments, binders, and water. The pigment is the color, the binder holds all of the paint together and the water helps to thin out the paint.

When you are finished painting with your watercolors, you will have some leftover paint water in your palette which can be discarded or saved for later use.

I’ve tried to come up with ways to reuse the leftover water from my painting sessions, but nothing ever worked very well. The water was too thick and didn’t rinse very well from whatever container I used.

That led me to think about ways that I could use this wasted resource in other ways!

You can always dilute the waste water with more water and use it again or pour it into your garden or plants as a fertilizer. Want to know about this?

Keep reading!

Can you water plants with paint water?

As I said, I use waste watercolor paint water instead of plain water for my garden. Can you water plants with paint water?

Well, I do it and my house plants are thriving! I heard many people do this and I thought I’d give it a try. It turns out that plants like the minerals that watercolor paint has.

And if the plant gets something that isn’t a nutrient for it, it will simply filter it out and not use it.

You might however notice some changes in the color of the plant if you are watering them with watercolor water that isn’t diluted. Unless you’d like that effect?

Anyway, I’m not really a biologist, but I know that house plants definitely require more help with their soil than those in nature which get many more minerals and nutrients.

The soil of your house plants? Limited amount!

You could of course keep changing the soil or keep adding the minerals, but it seems that adding watercolor paint water actually works.

A simple solution that will also be beneficial for your drain and plumbing.

All at your own risk, of course.

Is watercolor paint water toxic?

With watercolors being so popular among kids and adults, people are always wondering “is watercolor paint water toxic?” The short answer is no.

Watercolor is not toxic for humans, but some of the pigments used to make the paint might be.

Watercolor has been used for over 2000 years and is considered one of the safest art mediums available today.

Watercolor is made of pigments suspended in water and gum arabic. Gum arabic is a natural sugar ingredient that gives the paint its consistency and acts as a binder to hold the pigment particles together.

The most common toxic chemicals found in watercolors are heavy metals such as Cadmium, Chromium, and Lead.

Cadmium itself is a heavy metal and is toxic but cadmium pigments are not classified as dangerous for use. The level of soluble cadmium in the pigments is very low it poses no greater risk after swallowing or breathing in than other pigment types.

Final thoughts

So, can you put watercolor paint down the drain? In the end, watercolor paint isn’t like typical oil and acrylic paints.

It’s water-soluble, so you can put the waste water down the drain. With that said, however, I’d strongly advise separating the pigments from the water, if you decide to do it.

Better yet, use the waste water to water your plants!

Have I answered your questions? If you want more information, feel free to leave a comment below and I will reply to the best of my abilities.

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