Doing your own oil change is a great way to protect your engine, but what do you do with your used motor oil and filter at the end? Whether you’ve got a Yamaha V-Star 650 Cruiser, a Dry-Sump Suzuki DR350 Enduro, a BMW R1150RT, or any other motorcycle, finish the job right by recycling your used oil and filter. Both motor oil and the steel in oil filters can be cleaned and used over and over again if they’re recycled!
See the key steps in this video:
Get in gear.
The first step is prep. Set up with an oil drain pan, gloves, rags, filter wrench, funnel, cardboard, fresh oil, a filter, and crush washer. Fully drain the used oil AND filter – ideally overnight to catch all the oil. A used oil filter can hold up to a quart of oil! Use a funnel to pour the used oil into a clean, leak-proof plastic container with a screw-on cap. Place the empty oil filter in a sealed plastic bag. Depending on where you live, you might be able to get free jugs and filter bags for recycling delivered to your home – find your city below for details. Be sure to keep the oil clean – don’t mix it with any other substance so that it can be recycled again and again. If it does get contaminated, make sure to take it to your local Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Facility for safe management (see below). You can also save and reuse your gloves, rags and cardboard for the next oil change. Once your oil and filter are secure, you can either park it at the curbside for recycling or take it on the road. Keep reading to decide what’s easiest for you.
Park it at the curb.
If you live in a single-family home in one of the cities listed below, you may have access to convenient curbside oil and filter recycling! Depending on where you live and your waste hauler, you might need to prep your used oil and filters a little differently to guarantee they will get picked up. Find your city or town below for details.
Belmont, Burlingame, East Palo Alto, Foster City, Hillsborough, Menlo Park, Redwood City, San Carlos, and San Mateo
With Recology San Mateo County, single-family home residents can put used motor oil in a clear plastic container and filters in a zippered plastic bag next to your blue recycle cart for pickup on your regular collection day. You can request up to five, one-gallon plastic jugs for your used motor oil and up to five zip-top plastic bags for your used oil filters, at no cost. You can also use your own clear zip-top plastic bags and clear plastic screw-top containers for used motor oil, like a one-gallon milk jug. Make sure that lids and bags are tightly sealed.
Atherton, Portola Valley and Woodside
GreenWaste provides free oil recycling jugs that can be requested by calling (650) 568-9900. Set out used motor oil in plastic containers with a screw-top lid and filters sealed in clear zip-top plastic bags next to your recycling cart for collection.
Colma, Daly City, and Half Moon Bay
Republic Services Allied Waste takes up to two, one-gallon, clear plastic jugs (with screw-top cap) of used motor oil and up to two, one-gallon clear zip-top plastic bags with used oil filters curbside on your collection day. Place well-labeled motor oil and oil filters next to your blue recycling cart.
Brisbane, Millbrae, and South San Francisco
South San Francisco Scavenger will take up to five gallons of oil in sealed plastic bottles with screw-on lids and up to five empty oil filters in a clear zip-top bag, placed next to the recycling cart on collection day.
La Honda, Loma Mar, Pescadero and San Gregorio
Kunz Valley Trash & Recycling takes used motor oil in plastic jugs with screw-top lids and used filters inside secure zip-top plastic bags. Place both next to your recycling cart. Call (831) 338-9050 before your scheduled pickup if you have more than the usual amount for a single auto or pick-up truck.
Take it on the road.
If you don’t have curbside oil and filter recycling, San Mateo County has over 50 drop-off locations where DIYers can take their used motor oil and filters for free, including auto parts stores, repair shops, and recycling yards. San Mateo County Environmental Health Services created a map of all the used motor oil and filter recycling collection locations , so you can easily find the closest location to drop-off your used oil and filters – see map below. Most sites accept up to five gallons of used motor oil. Always call the drop-off location first to verify hours and limitations.
Not sure if your oil is mixed with other materials, or have other Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) such as batteries, antifreeze, or brake fluid to get rid of as well? San Mateo County residents can drop off up to ten gallons or fifty pounds of contaminated oil and other HHW for free at the San Mateo County HHW Facility. Call (650) 363-4718 and select option 3, or visit smchealth.org/hhw make an appointment at a drop-off location near you.
For more useful info on motorcycles, DIY oil changing, or where to recycle oil and filter in a different California city or county – check out our other Riders Recycle blog posts or drop-off locations page! Riders Recycle is funded by CalRecycle.