Environmental Health
Healthy Home Environment
Household Hazardous Materials
  REcycling Used Motor Oil  

How to Recycle Used Motor Oil

  1. Drain the used oil into a sealable, reusable container. A clean milk or laundry detergent jug will work, or try a reusable drain pan available at auto supply stores.
  2. Keep the oil clean. Keep the container sealed from rain water and debris. Don't mix used oil with solvents, gasoline, thinners or antifreeze. This makes the combined liquid a  hazardous waste which is longer recycleable.
  3. Take the used oil to a collection site. Find locations with our interactive map, with our printable brochure, or by calling 1-800-RECYCLE (9 a.m. – 1 p.m.).
  4. Reduce waste by keeping the oil container for reuse.

Oil Spills, Leaks, and the Environment

Washington State Department of Ecology estimates that 52 million pounds of toxic chemicals enter Puget Sound from stormwater runoff each year. This includes oil and petroleum products leaked from vehicles.
  • Maintain your car and check for leaks by placing cardboard underneath your parked car.
  • Place a ground cloth or drip pan under your vehicle if you have leaks or are doing engine work.
  • Clean up spills as quickly as possible.
  • Small spills are easily cleaned up with kitty litter or commercial spill absorbent.
  • Spills on gravel or dirt should be dug up until all the oil is removed.
  • Contaminated absorbents and soil should be bagged and disposed of as trash.
  • For guidance on small spills (less than 5 gallons), call (360) 867-2664.
  • For larger spills (more than 5 gallons), contact the Department of Ecology, Southwest Regional Office at (360) 407-6300
  • In Washington, it is illegal to put motor oil, as well as any other automotive fluids, pesticide, herbicide, or chemical product down storm drains or sewers, on the ground, or in the surface waters. Dispose of these materials at HazoHouse.

Re-refined Motor Oil

What is re-refined motor oil?

Re-refined motor oil is used motor oil that undergoes an extensive renewal process to remove contaminants to produce base oil that is as good as new. This base oil is blended with additives to produce lubricants such as motor oil, transmission fluid, and grease.

Why should I use re-refined motor oil?

Re-refined motor oil, works well, is good for the environment, and is priced competitively to regular motor oil. When you purchase re-refined motor oil and recycle it each time you do an oil change you are helping reduce our dependence on oil, reduce the depletion of natural resources, and reduce waste.

By using and promoting the use of re-refined lubricants, you are helping close the loop by:

  • Conserving a non-renewable resource—oil.
  • Supporting industries and businesses that provide recycling and re-refining services. Greater demand for re-refined oil will help increase local availability.
  • Helping protect the environment against improperly stored and disposed of used motor oil.

Is re-refined oil safe to use?

Re-refined oil and lubricants must undergo the same testing and meet the same standards as virgin lubricants in order to receive the certification of the American Petroleum Institute (API). Many government and private fleets, including Thurston County, have used re-refined lubricants in their vehicles for years.

When motor oil enters our waters it harms aquatic plants and animals, it can close shellfish growing and recreational areas, and contaminate drinking water sources.

Does re-refined oil meet industry standards?

Check re-refined oil labels to see if it meets American Petroleum Institute (API) standards. Purchase oil that meets the API standard recommended for your vehicle.

Where can I buy re-refined oil?

Most auto supply stores and some oil change providers now carry re-refined oil blends. So, purchase re-refined oil or ask for it for your next oil change. If your auto supply store or mechanic doesn't carry re-refined oil, ask them to stock it – and encourage friends and family to choose re-refined oils.


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This page last updated: 03/30/18