Don’t dump. Recycle used motor oil.

In the last few years, thousands of gallons of used motor oil have been dumped into storm drains by Contra Costa County residents. By taking used motor oil, antifreeze, filters, and other automobile fluids, in a sealed container, to a gas station or oil changing site with a recycling program, you will be helping our ocean, creeks, and the Bay. 

In the event of an accidental spill, sprinkle the area with sawdust or kitty litter to absorb all liquids, sweep it into a plastic garbage bag, and take it to a household hazardous waste facility.


  • Just one gallon of used motor oil can contaminate up to one million gallons of our fresh water. That’s enough water to supply 50 people for one year.
  • Recycled motor oil requires about half as much energy to produce.
  • Recycling two gallons of used oil can generate enough electricity to run an average household for almost 24 hours.
  • The used oil from one car engine can produce an 8-acre oil slick.
  • Used motor oil can be re-refined into lubricating oils that meet the same API certification and specifications as new motor oil.
  • It takes 42 gallons of crude oil, but only one gallon of used oil, to produce 2 ½ quarts of new, high-quality lubricating oil.


  • Pour used oil down any drain
  • Toss used oil on your driveway, street, or the ground
  • Dispose of oil in creeks, rivers, the Delta or the Bay
  • Spread oil to suppress dust or kill weeds
  • Burn oil outdoors
  • Mix used oil with other substances

To find a certified used oil collection site, go to

Residents can safely discard a wide variety of household hazardous wastes to their local Household Hazardous Waste Facility at no charge. To find Household Hazardous Waste Facilities near you, go to

Think of the Creeks when Washing Your Car

When you wash your car on your driveway or street, the wash water flows into storm drains and goes directly to local creeks without any treatment.  Wash water contains pollutants that can harm creek habitats, such as grease, oil, metals, particle buildup, and chemicals from hose water and cleaning products.  Even if you use biodegradable soaps, the oxygen these products require to break down depletes our creek of the dissolved oxygen that fish and other organisms need to survive.  In addition, hose water contains chloramine, which is a disinfectant that is toxic to fish and can alter the pH of the creeks and waterways on the other side of your storm drain.   

What can you do?  Instead of washing your car at home, take your car to a commercial car wash where the wastewater will be treated.  There are also commercial, self-service car wash stations that connect to drains where the washwater will be treated.

Planning on hosting a car wash fundraiser? Check out our brochure: Proper Car Wash Fundraising in Contra Costa County (PDF)

Remember: Only rainwater is allowed to flow freely into a storm drain. To learn more about how your storm drains and streets connect to local creeks, check out our What is Stormwater? webpage.