How to dispose of car oil
It’s important to change your car oil occasionally. Doing so will keep your engine components free of deposits, running smoothly and safely with the least possible need for expensive maintenance. Old oil must be disposed of correctly, however.
That’s because old car oil contains a large number of toxic contaminants and heavy metals, and it’s also insoluble, taking a very long time to break down. As a result, it can seriously pollute waterways or soil if it finds its way into the ground or drainage system.
Plenty of motorists performing auto DIY often forget oil disposal – a big problem, given that used car oil is classified as hazardous waste, which can only be legally disposed of at authorised sites.
In this guide, we go through how to dispose and clean car oil safely and legally, protecting you, your property, and the environment.
How to dispose of car oil
Once you have drained your car oil – learn how in our car oil change guide – carefully pour the oil from the drain pan or bucket into a strong receptacle, such as the empty oil can that carried the new car oil. If you spill it, skip to the next section of this guide.
Once the oil is securely contained, you can get rid of it by taking it and your old oil filter to your nearest oil disposal or recycling facility – click here to find your nearest recycling location.
For businesses disposing of car oil, the rules are a little different – for more information, see the Government’s advice on hazardous waste.
How to clean car oil
If you spill car oil, you need to immediately clean it up so it doesn’t pollute your property or the environment. To clean car oil:
- Stop the leak or source of the oil
- Use a spill kit to soak up the oil
- If you don’t have a kit available, use sand, earth, or cat litter to soak up the oil, or an absorbent cloth or towel
- Do not use detergents or cleaning products, as these could react with the oil and form more dangerous pollutants
- Bag up the sand, earth, litter, or towels and safely dispose of them at an oil disposal or recycling facility
For larger spills (typically experienced by businesses), follow the instructions above. If the spill is too large and you cannot clean it all, however:
Contact your fuel supplier and seek their advice
Call the 24/7 national pollution incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60 and follow their advice
Contact your insurance company and notify them of the spill
Not contacting the organisations above could lead to you breaking the law or being levelled with a significant fine.
How to get car oil off tarmac
If you’ve had a small spill on your driveway, do the following to get rid of car oil:
- Mop up all the surface oil with a cloth or towel
- Work a small amount of dish soap, oven cleaner, or baking soda onto the stain and work it in with a brush
- Wait for 30 minutes.
- Put a small amount of water on the stain and immediately soak up the solution with a cloth or towel – the stain should be cleaned
- Dispose of the towel an oil disposal or recycling facility
Oil spills must always be cleaned, and with the steps above, you can ensure your asphalt is spotless and the environment is safe from pollutants. View Total’s range of car oils, or get in touch with our experts for more information.