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Can You Pour Engine Oil Down The Drain?

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You'd have to change your engine oil to keep your car running smoothly every now and then. One of the most common questions that we get is whether or not it is okay to pour engine oil down the drain. We did our research, and here is what we found out.

The answer, unfortunately, is no. Engine oil is a type of lubricant that helps keep your car's engine running smoothly. If you pour it down the drain, it will eventually end up in our waterways and can harm aquatic life.

This blog post will discuss why it is essential to properly dispose of used engine oils. We will also talk about what happens if used engine oils get into the environment. Keep reading to learn more.

Oil In Water Running Down the Drain. Change the old engine oil for car. Professional team and volunteer wearing PPE clean up dirty of oil spill on beach. Can You Pour Engine Oil Down The Drain

What Is Engine Oil Made Of?

As anyone who's ever changed their oil knows, engine oil is vital to the functioning of a car. It helps to protect the engine from friction and heat, and it also helps keep the engine clean by trapping dirt and debris.

Over time, however, engine oil breaks down and becomes less effective. As a result, regularly checking your oil level and changing them when needed is important. 

Lubricant oil poured from a barrel

You might be wondering what engine oil is actually made of. Well, it's a combination of base oils and additives. The base oils are typically derived from crude oil or petroleum, while the additives can come from various sources. Together, they work to keep your engine clean and running smoothly.

Consequences of Pouring Engine Oil Down the Drain

When you pour engine oil into the environment, it will eventually make its way into our waterways, where it can do severe damage. The most important reason you shouldn’t pour engine oil down the drain is that it can cause serious harm to aquatic life.

Engine oil contains various chemicals that can be toxic to fish and other animals that live in water. Even a tiny amount of oil can create a large slick on the water’s surface that can suffocate fish and other animals. Oil also coats birds' feathers, making it difficult for them to fly and keep warm.

Oil on a rainy street produces a colorful spectrum.

Another reason to recycle engine oil is that it is a finite resource. Like fossil fuels, engine oil is a non-renewable resource that will eventually run out. Recycling engine oil helps to prolong its life so that we can continue to use it for years to come.

Can You Pour Engine Oil in the Ground?

Used engine oils should never be disposed of on the ground. As mentioned, the toxicity level of engine oil is high and can have the same harmful effects it has on the ground and on water when poured. 

How To Dispose of Engine Oil Properly

If you change your own oil, there are a few different ways to dispose of it. Many auto parts stores and service stations will accept used engine oil for recycling. You can also take it to a local hazardous waste facility or contact your city or county government to find out where you can dispose of it properly.

Can You Recycle Used Engine Oil?

Yes, used engine oil can be recycled. But not at home. Many auto parts stores and service stations will accept used engine oil for recycling.

motor oil spill on auto shop floor leaving puddle of black motor oil with dirty soiled rags on the floor

What Should You Do If There are Engine Spills at Home?

If you accidentally spilled used engine oil anywhere at home, the first thing to do is not to panic. You can do a few things to clean it up and prevent further damage.

Scrub the Oil Stain

This remedy is usually helpful for minor spills.

  1. First, mop as much of the oil as possible using old towels or absorbent rags.
  2. Apply a generous amount of cleaning solution and scrub vigorously with a stiff brush. This will help break down the oil and make it easier to rinse away.
  3. Finally, flush the area with hot water and soap to remove any remaining residue.

If you take these steps quickly, you should be able to clean up the spill without any lasting damage.

Absorb and Saturate the Oil Stain

If scrubbing the oil stain does not totally remove it, you can try the following absorbent materials and chemicals to continue cleaning the area:

  • Oil-absorbing materials such as sprinkle sawdust, coconut husks or commercial oil-absorbing products.
  • Degreasers such as WD-40
  • Dry laundry detergent or dishwashing detergent
  • Regular Bleach
  • Baking Soda: absorb the oil and make it easier to wipe up
  • Cornstarch: helps to absorb the oil and make cleanup easier

You may find some of these products on:

Check out this WD-40 Cleaner Spray on Amazon

Steps in absorbing and saturating used engine oil stains

  1. Place the absorbent materials on the oil for at least 24 to 48 hours.
  2. Through a broom or dustpan, sweep the debris. 
  3. Rinse the area with hot water and soap. Repeat the steps as needed. If the oil stains do not give way, proceed to the following steps.
  4. Allow the cleaning solution to sit for at least an hour on the spilled area.
  5. Vigorously brush the area.
  6. Flush with hot water and soap.

What if You Spilled Used Engine Oil on the Ground?

If you've accidentally spilled used engine oil on the ground, tools like oil absorbent pads, land-specific booms, etc. can be used. If the spill is too severe, it might be time to call your local hazard disposing center to do the job for you. 

Call Professionals for Help

If you can't take care of the oil spill on your own, the best way to deal with it is to call in professional help. They have the proper know-how and equipment to remove the oil and prevent any further damage effectively. In addition, they can dispose of the oil properly so that you don't have to worry about it causing harm to the environment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Engine Oil Biodegradable?

The answer, unfortunately, is no. Engine oil is made up of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons, and these molecules are not readily broken down by bacteria or other organisms. In addition, engine oil often contains additives that can further reduce its biodegradability. As a result, used engine oil can linger in the environment for years, posing a severe threat to wildlife and human health.

So what can be done with used engine oil? The best option is to recycle it, as this will keep it out of the environment and allow it to be reused. However, recycling isn't always possible, so disposing of used engine oil responsibly is essential. This means taking it to a certified waste facility where it can be properly disposed of without harming the environment.

Is Motor Oil the Same as Engine Oil?

It's a common misconception that motor oil and engine oil are the same things. In actuality, they are two different types of oil that serve different purposes.

Motor oil is used to lubricate the engine, while engine oil is used to clean the engine. Another difference is that motor oil is made from petroleum, while engine oil is made from synthetic materials. Motor oil typically has a lower viscosity than engine oil, which means it flows more easily.

Engine oil also has a higher flash point than motor oil, which means it can withstand higher temperatures. Ultimately, both motor oil and engine oil are necessary for keeping an engine running smoothly.

Pouring motor oil for motor vehicles from a gray bottle into the engine, , oil change

How Often Should You Change Your Engine Oil

This will depend on your car manufacturer's suggestion and the type of engine oil you will be using. But most of the time, you can expect to get an oil change every 5000-7000 miles. By following this simple maintenance schedule, you can help ensure that your engine will stay healthy and running smoothly for years to come.

The key is to pay attention to your car's individual needs. For example, if you frequently drive in stop-and-go traffic or in extreme temperatures, you might need to change your oil more often. Conversely, if you mostly drive on highways and maintain a consistent speed, you might be able to go longer between changes.

In general, it's a good idea to check your owner's manual for guidance on how often to change your oil. And if you're ever unsure, it's always better to err on the side of caution and get an oil change sooner rather than later.

Final Thoughts

We hope that this blog post has helped to clear up any confusion about whether or not you can pour engine oil down the drain. As always, if you have any further questions, please feel free to leave comments down below.

Since you're still here, you might want to read the following articles:

Does Car Engine Oil Expire?

5 Engine Oil Treatment Benefits Every Car Owner Should Know