What To Do with Old Coolant – Updated Guide 2022

Do you know what to do with old coolant?

Engine coolant, also known as antifreeze is a mixture of water, a metallic salt and ethylene glycol.

The coolant flows through the engine’s radiator to regulate its temperature and increase its efficiency.

Antifreeze is necessary for all cars since it prevents freezing in cold weather and boiling in summer.

Coolant is supplied to the engine through the lower hose of the radiator, but it should be regularly topped up.

You will need to change the coolant mixture every 3 years or 36,000 miles.

Even if your car has a cap that locks you will still need to check your coolant often, at least twice in a year.

Old coolants can damage your engine’s cooling system and corrode vital parts, so you will have to make sure that you change it regularly.

With that said, a lot of people don’t know what to do with old coolant.

It’s something that must be disposed of safely and correctly as it contains very toxic and poisonous chemicals.

What to do with your old coolant

As mentioned, antifreeze is quite an essential product for your car.

However, it has got to be disposed of properly as any leak of antifreeze onto the ground will destroy some local plants and animals, especially the ones that live in water.

It’s also poisonous for both humans and pets, and can result in grave health repercussions.

The chemicals in coolant are also harmful for the environment if left circulating in the water system or poured on the ground.

So, what are you supposed to do with your old engine coolant?

We’ve covered top ways to dispose of your coolant in the safest and most environmental-friendly manner possible.

Take it to a local recycling center

You don’t have to do anything with your old coolant, as long as you take it to a local recycling center.

You can donate the used antifreeze to the recyclers, in exchange for some of their recycled products.

This way you can prevent any harm being done to the chemical composition of your coolant.

Some recyclers may even be willing to pay you for it as well.

Just make sure that you are aware of any limitations and requirements for the recycling center that you’re taking your coolant to.

According to LinkedIn, recycling antifreeze has its benefits with the most important of all being preserving the environment.

Take antifreeze to a service station

If you have a car and a service station nearby, you can also take your coolant there.

You can have the old coolant expertly dumped out of your system by a professional at the station.

The service station will then tell you if they’re going to dispose of your coolant themselves or not.

If they aren’t able to do it, they may even give you some advice on how to get rid of it in the safest manner possible.

That said, most service stations will get rid of the coolant for you.

They will make sure that it doesn’t end up on the ground or in trees, and dispose of it as per their own guidelines.

There are usually some fees involved as well, so be sure to check these out before handing your coolant over to them.

Take it to an auto parts shop

If you don’t live near a service station, then you can also take your old coolant to an auto parts shop.

Not only will they dispose of your coolant for you, but also help you make sure that it’s done safe and correctly.

Auto-parts shops are usually willing to take any amount of antifreeze that you need disposing of.

However, not all auto-parts shops will dispose of the coolant for you.

Make sure that you ask them in advance if they will dispose of it or not.

A lot of auto-part shops may also charge you some fees for disposing your engine coolant since they will have to send it to a special disposal facility.

These are usually only used for larger amounts of coolants, aren’t the same as the ones used for regular disposals.

Other than that, auto-parts shops will also give you some advice on what to do with your coolant and how to get rid of it properly.

They may also be able to help you find a local recycling center or disposal facility, but make sure that they’re not sending it straight into the ground!

Recommendations of Proper disposal of engine coolant

These are some of the most important tips that you should know before disposing of your engine coolant.

Make sure to check if there are any recycling centers or disposal facilities nearby.

You can also send it to the place that you choose for its proper disposal, but don’t do anything else with it! Never put your used coolant in a landfill as this may result in negative health repercussions.

  1. Separate tainted from the merely old engine coolant. These should also be stored in separate containers. Tainted antifreeze potentially contains some heavy metals and often requires a different method of disposal. It’s actually handled separately as hazardous waste.
  2. Wear gloves when draining antifreeze from the cooling system. Make sure that you also cover your eyes, nose and mouth with a mask or cloth. If some coolant does splatter onto your skin, wash it off as soon as possible to reduce any negative health effects of those chemicals on your body. Use a large container to collect it without spills and seal tightly. Clean any accidental spills immediately to prevent pets and other animals from ingesting it.
  3. Package it securely and transport to a disposal facility. You can also hire a waste hauler to take it away, but make sure that they dispose of the antifreeze safely and responsibly.
  4. Most antifreeze disposal facilities own recycling machines and tend to be the safest option for disposing of your used coolant. If you’re unsure about how the antifreeze is going to be treated before it’s disposed of, make sure to contact any facility that you’re sending it to in advance. It’s also essential to call ahead because each disposal facility does have its own requirements. Some shops don’t take tainted antifreeze because they may not have the resources to dispose of it. So, check with them first to ensure they actually accept the type of engine coolant that you want to get rid of.

Don’t pour antifreeze/engine coolant down the drain

According to the EPA, used antifreeze can be extremely harmful for the environment.

Antifreeze mainly ends up in water systems through rain or snow runoff.

In addition, animals like birds and small rodents also often drink it directly from puddles found on roadsides.

Many pets are also attracted to the sweet taste of coolant, and its poisonous effects can be fatal.

The use of old antifreeze in the environment has become a growing problem and this is why you have to make sure that it isn’t leaking or getting into the septic system in any way.

Antifreeze contains some harmful chemicals like ethylene glycol and methanol, which can be lethal to animals and humans alike.

For that reason, it’s best to not pour antifreeze down the drain no matter what.

Engine coolants come in two types;

Ethylene Glycol Antifreeze

This type of antifreeze is not allowed to be disposed of in landfills and should never be poured down your bathroom sink or toilet.

It contains ethylene glycol, which is a toxic component known to cause certain birth defects, reproductive issues and in some instances death when ingested.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that exposure to this chemical can result in organ failure and ultimately death.

Since it has a sweet smell and flavor, it should be kept away from small children and pets.

Ethylene glycol has been known to harm the environment too.

If it enters a water source, it will remain there for a long time, which is why it’s best to dispose of it appropriately.

Propylene Glycol Antifreeze

While considerably less toxic than ethylene glycol type coolant, propylene glycol can still be harmful.

It’s only lethal when ingested in large quantities by children, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems.

Its odorless properties also make it easy for pets to get into, so it’s best to keep this type of coolant up and away from your pets.

Small children should not be exposed to this type of coolant at all.

Don’t pour antifreeze on the ground

Don’t make the common mistake of disposing of old coolant by pouring some outside on the ground.

This can be extremely harmful to your environment, so avoid doing so at all costs.

If you pour it directly onto the ground, it may end up in a flood or puddle where small animals and birds will drink from it, which can have negative effects on their health.

Your pets may also be attracted to the sweet taste and unknowingly ingest some of the toxic antifreeze.

If you happen to accidentally spill even a small amount of coolant, thoroughly clean it up immediately.

Even a little bit can potentially hurt or kill small animals or birds, so it’s important to clean up any spills as fast as possible.

If the spill gets into the soil, make sure to dig it up and replace some of the soil so that there is no harmful residue left behind.

Use these steps to clean-up spills;

  1. Wear protective gloves when cleaning up the spill. It’s best to also wear a mask and face covering so that you’re protected from any antifreeze that may get into your eyes.
  2. Use absorbent material such as sand or baking soda to cover the coolant spill.
  3. Next, put paper towels over the material and leave it alone for at least three hours.
  4. Once time is up, clean everything up using dry paper towels and put them in a sealed plastic bag. Throw in the trash and make sure to use a sealer to keep the bag in place. Wash your hands carefully and clean up any remaining residue before returning to your yard or sidewalk.
  5. Do NOT use a hose to try and wash away antifreeze liquid because it can end up seeping into the ground, and you’ll be in for a mess of trouble later.
  6. Instead use soap and water to clean the area and then flush off any stains with more clean water.
  7. Allow the spot to air dry for as long as possible.

Final Thoughts

Antifreeze is a poison and its best to dispose of it properly.

If you don’t, you risk contaminating your soil, the environment and exposing your pets to dangerous chemicals.

While you may be tempted to pour it down the drain or other places, always remember that this can have severe consequences on the environment.

So instead take the necessary steps to dispose of coolant the right way by following these tips.


Can you pour antifreeze down the toilet?

While many people think that they can pour antifreeze down the toilet, this is not recommended at all.

It’s best to NOT pour it down the toilet because if you do, it will end up releasing toxins into your water system and sewage system.

This can make your yard and local environment more harmful to animals, pets and children.

What happens to old engine coolant?

Typically, it’s recycled into new antifreeze by removing metals or other impurities.

Is car coolant bad for the environment?

Yes, it’s bad for the environment because it can cause harm to animals, plants and even humans.

If dumped into the water system, it can take years to fully degrade and its effects can be felt in the water system for a long time.

If you want to do your part in keeping the environment safe, make sure to properly dispose of your old antifreeze.