You just changed your oil for the first time. Everything is going well until you remember that huge container of old oil sitting by your feet. What are you supposed to do with it? Although you may feel the urge to just dump it, disposing of motor oil is a bit more complicated than that. You have to dispose of motor oil properly. Fortunately, getting rid of the used oil is as easy as finding out where to dispose of motor oil for free. By utilizing the free options that are very close by, you can ensure that the waste is handled in a safe and responsible manner.

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How to Store Motor Oil For Disposal

Prior to disposing of your old engine oil, you will need to contain and store it. Here are some tips to ensure safe and compliant oil storage and removal:

  1. Choose your container. Use a suitable container that is clean, leak-proof, and made of durable material, such as plastic or metal. Avoid containers that previously held chemicals or food products, as they can contaminate the oil. Ensure the container has a tightly sealed lid to prevent spills during transportation.
  2. Label it. Clearly label the container as “Used Motor Oil” to prevent any confusion and ensure proper handling.
  3. Store the oil. Keep the oil in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. Exposure to heat or excessive moisture can degrade the oil and compromise its quality.
  4. Prevent contamination. To avoid contamination, never mix used motor oil with other substances like antifreeze, solvents, or water. Keep the containers tightly sealed when not in use to prevent the entry of dirt, debris, or moisture.
  5. Check local regulations. Some areas may have specific requirements, such as quantity limits or specific disposal procedures. Be sure to adhere to these requirements so that you can dispose of motor oil for free.

Check out this video for some more excellent tips on how to recycle and dispose of motor oil for free:

Retailers and Service Centers

Some automotive retailers and service centers offer free motor oil disposal as a customer service. Certain national chain stores or independent auto shops have programs in place where they accept used motor oil from customers for proper disposal at no cost. They may have specific requirements, such as a limit on the amount of oil they will accept or a preference for customers who have made a purchase. It’s a good idea to call ahead and confirm if the location near you offers free disposal. In some cases, you may want to look out for “take-back programs,” where those selling or performing oil changes will take back oil filters and used oil free of charge.

Do note that in some places, free disposal is a legal requirement. For example, in New Jersey, there is a state law (NJSA 13:1E-99.36) that requires all retail auto mechanic services that have oil collection tanks, meaning the vast majority, to accept used engine oil from DIY oil changes.

Local Recycling Centers

Many local recycling centers accept used motor oil free of charge. These facilities are typically run by municipal or county governments and are dedicated to promoting proper waste management and recycling. They often have designated drop-off locations or scheduled collection events where you can bring your used motor oil for free disposal. Contact your local recycling center or check their website for more information.

You can also find more local recycling centers that let you dispose of motor oil for free by visiting Earth911. You can search for centers by zip code.

Household Hazardous Waste Collection Events

Do you live in an active and environmentally-conscious community? Then you may find that there are household hazardous waste collection events going on throughout the year. These events are often organized by housing associations, community organizations, or other residents. During these events, you can bring any hazardous materials to the drop-off site, including motor oil. Since these happen periodically, you may have to store the oil for several weeks or months before it gets collected. If you want to be rid of it sooner, consider taking your oil to be recycled at an auto parts or repair shop.

Waste Oil Recycling Programs

In some regions, there are waste oil recycling programs that offer free collection and disposal services for used motor oil. These programs are often funded through grants or environmental initiatives. They may have designated drop-off locations or mobile collection units that visit specific areas at scheduled times. Check with your local environmental agencies or waste management authorities to see if there are any waste oil recycling programs available in your area.

Where Should You Not Dispose of Oil For Free

Now that you have some options for where to take your oil, let’s briefly touch on the places where you should never dispose of your oil. Even if these options may seem less of a hassle than containing your oil or storing it, choosing these places could have catastrophic outcomes for the environment and those around you.

Drains and Sewers

Never pour oil down drains, sinks, or toilets. Oil can clog pipes and cause blockages, leading to costly repairs and potential backups in your plumbing system. Additionally, wastewater treatment facilities are not designed to handle large quantities of oil, which can contaminate water sources and harm aquatic life.

Regular Waste or Trash Bins

Do not dispose of oil by throwing it in the regular trash bin. Oil can leak from garbage bags, pollute landfills, and endanger waste management workers. It is considered hazardous waste and requires special handling and disposal methods.

Learn from Pep Boys mistake in California.

Soil and Ground

Oil can seep into the soil, potentially contaminating groundwater and harming plants and wildlife. It also poses a fire hazard, as oil-soaked soil can become highly flammable.

Storm Drains and Waterways

Storm drains are directly connected to waterways without any treatment, so any oil dumped into them will flow directly into the environment, polluting water sources and harming aquatic ecosystems.


Do not attempt to burn used oil or pour it onto open flames. Burning oil can release toxic fumes and create a fire hazard. It is also illegal in many jurisdictions to burn oil or other hazardous substances in open fires.

Final Thoughts on Disposing of Motor Oil for Free

Properly disposing of motor oil is not only a legal requirement but also an essential responsibility we have as stewards of the environment. Luckily, you now know where to dispose of motor oil for free. By taking advantage of local recycling centers, automotive retailers and service centers, household hazardous waste collection events, and waste oil recycling programs, you can safely dispose of your used motor oil without incurring any costs! Now you can DIY that oil change without any worries.

Categories: Oil Guides


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