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Househould Hazardous Waste
Automotive Products - Used Motor Oil & Filters


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Motor oil is a product used to lubricate the moving parts inside vehicle engines. It can be refined from petroleum or made synthetically. Synthetic oil performs better and can be engineered to last longer, however it is more expensive than standard petroleum oil.

When the engine is running, particles of metal from the engine and dirt from outside the engine contaminate the oil. The contaminated oil then looses its ability to lubricate the engine properly and must be changed. The old contaminated oil is called waste oil (or Used Oil).

Waste oil can be recycled (re-refined) and used as fuel or can be reused as motor oil. In order to lengthen the usable life of oil, most machines use oil filters. The filter is a thin metal or hard plastic container with a porous mesh on the inside. Oil that is cycling through the engine is passed through the filter, where some of the larger particles of dirt and metal are removed. When the oil is changed the filter should be replaced.


Used oil and oil soaked rags are potentially flammable and should be kept away from open flames. Oil is toxic to humans, fish, animals, and plants. Oil contains heavy metals caused by metal particles eroding from the engine during use. These heavy metals can cause kidney and nerve damage. Additives used to increase performance contain hydrocarbons, which may be carcinogenic. Used oil can present a threat to health through skin absorption, inhalation, and ingestion.

Handling & Storage:

Oil should be stored in a clean container with a screw top, such as the original container; if the original is not available use a plastic jug labeled used oil. Used oil filters should not be thrown out in the garbage as they may contain up to 12 ounces of oil. After removing the oil filter, puncture the dome part of the filter with a sharp object (like a nail) while still hot (use caution). Let the filter drain for 12 hours into the container used to collect the rest of the oil. Store the filters in a sealed container. Do not mix oil with other liquids. Store out of reach of children, and keep away from heat and flames.


Motor oil that has been disposed of improperly can end up in the soil and eventually surface and groundwater. Burning unprocessed oil can release toxins into the air. By following the proper use, storage, and disposal instructions the chances of an accidental exposure are minimized.


  • Used oil and oil filters can be taken to a participating service station
  • Used oil and oil filters can be taken to a local household hazardous waste collection center, and/or a special collection event

Where to take HHW:


Towns and solid waste districts hold hazardous waste collection events every year, two per year at minimum (spring and fall) and many common household hazardous wastes can be disposed of at these events. For more information and event scheduling, contact your solid waste district. Find contact information on the solid waste district contact list page. (Note: If you live in a village, fire district, etc., please select the town your village, fire district, etc. is in from the list. If your town is not a member of a district, contact information for your town clerk is provided.)

Solid Waste Management Districts contact list







Last updated:
VT DEC Waste Management & Prevention Division 1 National Life Drive - Davis 1  Montpelier, VT  05620-3704  Tele: 802-828-1138  Fax: 802-828-1011

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