Changing your own oil at home can save you quite a bit of money, especially if you make it a habit. However, the process can be more complicated for hobby mechanics when it comes time to dispose of the old oil.
Motor oil must be dealt with safely and properly to avoid contaminating the environment. Anyone who changes their own oil is responsible for legally disposing of it at a designated facility.
Luckily, Walmart makes it easy for hobbyists to dispose of used oil at any Walmart Auto Care Center location.
The Walmart Oil Recycling Program
Through Walmart Auto Care Center, Walmart makes it easy for anyone to recycle used motor oil safely and efficiently.
Simply bring your used motor oil in a safe, sealed container to any Walmart location that has a Walmart Auto Care Center. The folks at the Auto Care Center are equipped to accept up to five gallons of used motor oil per person per day. They also recycle old oil filters.
Once Walmart collects your used oil, they first send it to a used oil transfer facility where it waits to be shipped off to a recycling facility. The facilities that recycle used oil are known as “re-refineries.”
Why Recycling Oil Is Important
Needless to say, used motor oil is a serious contaminant if and when it gets into natural ecosystems, soils, and waterways. When dumped or spilled onto the ground, motor oil can kill plant and animal life, and it can even end up in the groundwater leading to potentially serious health effects for humans and other lifeforms that rely on water.
This is why recycling oil properly is so important. By recycling your motor oil at a designated recycling center or drop-off point, you not only reduce the risk of that oil ending up in the environment, but you also help keep petroleum products cycling through the supply chain.
Recycled oil can be used to produce lubricants and fuel additives, and they can even be refined back into raw materials suitable for the production of new engine oil or other petrochemicals.
All types of motor oil are recyclable, including synthetic and plant-derived oils.
Types Of Oil Accepted For Recycling
Walmart Auto Care Center accepts all types of automotive motor oil for recycling, regardless of where it was purchased originally or what company produced it.
However, Walmart does not accept other automotive fluids such as transmission fluid, brake fluid, etc. They also do not accept contaminated motor oil, so be sure that your motor oil is not mixed with other fluids.
How To Return Used Oil To Walmart
To return your used motor oil to Walmart, follow these steps:
- Contain your oil in a sturdy, sealable container such as a five-gallon bucket with lid, clean plastic milk jug with screw top, or a designated plastic oil container (you can purchase these containers, produced by companies like FloTool, through Advance Auto Parts for about $12)
- Take your oil to any Walmart location with a Walmart Auto Care Center (to find a location near you, click here)
- Speak with any employee at the Auto Care Center and let them know you have oil to recycle
- The employee will take your oil from you, and you’ll be free to go (That’s it!)
Walmart does not offer compensation for recycled motor oil.
According to several sources online, Walmart Auto Care Center limits oil recycling to 5 gallons of oil per person per day. However, this limit might not actually be as strict as some people think.
One user on Reddit shared this
As of 2023, there are no fees associated with recycling motor oil at Walmart. Simply arrive at any Walmart Auto Care Center with your uncontaminated oil (meaning that it’s not mixed with other fluids), and Walmart will recycle it for you for free.
In fact, most oil recyclers make money for the oil they recycle. So, you’re technically doing Walmart a favor when you return your used engine oil.
Better yet, if you live in California, you might even be able to make that money yourself by recycling your oil through a certified used oil collection center. Most of these collection centers pay $0.40 on the gallon for recycled oil. If you’re a California resident, find a collection center near you through CalRecycle.
Other Places That Accept Used Oil And Oil Filters
Most auto care centers and auto parts suppliers accept recycled oil, including…
- O’Reilly Auto Parts
- Jiffy Lube
If you can’t find one of these retailers near you, try contacting your county’s waste management department to find out where to properly dispose of your oil. If you are a Washington State resident, you can also call 1-800-RECYCLE (1-800-732-9253) for help.
You can also try visiting your local mechanic or auto shop with your used oil to see if they would be willing to recycle it for you.
For more help and information, visit RecycleOil.org, operated by the American Petroleum Institute.
DIY Oil Disposal Tips
If you’re the kind of person who changes your own motor oil, then you’re probably already familiar with collecting and disposing of your oil. But in case you’re new to the process, we’re here to offer some tips so that you can make sure you’re disposing of your motor oil responsibly.
The first and most important thing to remember is that motor oil cannot be recycled at home. There is no way to naturally recycle or dispose of motor oil. In fact, it’s illegal to dispose of motor oil anywhere other than at a designated collection point such as Walmart or at a hazardous waste recycling facility.
Here are some key points to remember when disposing of your own motor oil…
- Keep your oil contained – When draining your oil during an oil change, always collect it in an oil pan first, then safely transfer it to a sturdy, sealable container, being careful not to spill any onto the ground. Make sure that your oil pan and container are both free of holes. Some oil pans even come with lids or caps so that you don’t have to transfer your oil into a second container.
- Do not attempt to drain your oil directly into a container that has a small opening, as this increases the chance that the oil will end up on the ground. If you do happen to spill oil onto the ground outside, use a shovel to remove the contaminated soil or gravel, and place it into a sealable container such as a five-gallon bucket. Store the sealed bucket permanently in a safe location. If you’re battling oil spills or leaks inside your garage, check out this post from RainbowRestores.com for tips on how to clean it up.
- Check your containers – Before draining or pouring engine oil into anything, make sure that your oil pans and containers are free of any holes or cracks. Also make sure that all lids or caps seal properly.
- Use a tarp beneath your work area – To further reduce the risk of spilling your motor oil, place a heavy-duty tarp beneath your oil pan and/or oil container anytime you’re draining or pouring oil,
- Never attempt to dispose of oil yourself – As mentioned above, attempting to dispose of your own oil at home is not only unsafe, but it’s also illegal. Always take your used motor oil to a designated recycling center or collection point.
- Drain your oil filter – Because it’s constantly filtering oil, your oil filter will be soaked through with oil when you go to replace it. To drain it, puncture the dome of the filter and drain the excess oil into your oil pain. Place the drained filter into a heavy-duty, sealable plastic bag, and bring it with you when you dispose of your oil.
For a more detailed look at how to properly dispose of your engine oil, check out this post from Family Handyman.