How To Dispose Of Antifreeze Safely [4 Easy Steps]

The coolant in a car is what is responsible for keeping our car’s engine from overheating. However, do you know that the car’s coolant can be toxic? Thus disposing of used or old coolant carefully is very important. This article discusses how to dispose of antifreeze safely and carefully so read on.

What Is Antifreeze In A Car? Why Is Changing It Important?

Antifreeze, otherwise known as coolant or radiator fluid is a liquid agent that prevents our car’s engine from overheating in summer and seizing up in winter. However, with time coolants become highly acidic which leads to engine damage and overheating. Changing your antifreeze is an important part while preparing your car for cold weather. Also as coolants get acidic with time, it is important to change them to avoid engine damage. 

In older cars, antifreeze can even leak which lower its level and requires a top-up. Newer cars use a longer-lasting cooling agent which typically has 50% water and 50% antifreeze; the addition of plain water to cool the radiator can dilute antifreeze levels below this ideal 50/50 ratio.

Most car manufacturers and mechanics advise us to change antifreeze every 30,000 to 50,000 miles, depending on the model of the car. If it is done correctly and if you have good knowledge about the engine and also about the recycling and hazardous waste laws in your locality, then testing, changing and disposing of antifreeze is not a very hard task.

How To Determine Whether Antifreeze Should Be Emptied Or Changed?

The car’s radiator holds the radiator or coolant in your car. To test whether to empty or change the antifreeze, you must first check its level. For that, first, let your car’s engine cool down for a while. Once it has cooled down, unscrew the radiator cap and check the level of the antifreeze and if it is present till the top, up to the ‘full’ mark. 

If you see that there is enough antifreeze in the radiator, you have to proceed to test if it has gone bad or not. Your antifreeze must bright and clear, regardless of its colour. There are coolant testers and similar devices available in the market which you can make use of to test your coolant quality. 

You can also check if there is an oily film on the surface of the coolant. If there is an oily layer on the surface, it is an indication of a faulty head gasket. Make a mechanic check your car as soon as possible in such a situation. Your antifreeze must be emptied and replaced even if is there is a tiny bit of oil on it. 

How To Dispose Of Antifreeze Safely?

The main ingredient of antifreeze is generally ethylene glycol which can also act as a lubricant and an anticorrosive agent. It is a toxic chemical that cannot simply be poured down the drain toilet, sewer or thrown in the trash. That is why the question of how to dispose of antifreeze is a question of relevance. Once you find out that your antifreeze must be replaced, follow the steps on how to dispose of antifreeze.

1. Find A Hazardous Waste Or Recycling Facility

Each state has a Department of waste Management website which provides a list of several hazardous waste disposal facilities and recycling centres. Locate a convenient centre for recycling or disposal and enquire them about how to dispose of or contain your antifreeze. If the antifreeze is tainted with oil or gas so much that it can’t be recycled, search and find a hazardous chemical disposal centre. 

2. Drain The Radiator Of Old Antifreeze

It is very important to wear equipment like goggles, masks and gloves while draining the radiator and replacing antifreeze. Before proceeding to remove the antifreeze, park your car on a levelled road or ground and allow the engine to completely cool off. 

You must also disconnect the battery before draining the radiator. This helps in ensuring that there will be no electrical damage. Placing a drain pan under the drain valve is important and then you can proceed to open the valve with the pliers. Let the antifreeze drain into the pan completely before closing the valve again. 

After draining the antifreeze, transfer it into a sealable plastic container. You can seek the help of your owner’s manual or your trusted manufacture to determine how much replacement antifreeze is needed, or what proportion of antifreeze and water you should pour into the radiator.

3. Clean Up Quickly

A spill or two while draining the antifreeze is quite usual. But do not hesitate to clean it up as soon as possible. You can make use of baking soda or kitty litter to soak up the spilt antifreeze. Then proceed to cover the entire area with paper towels and leave it alone for a couple of hours. 

Toss all the materials that you used to soak the antifreeze into a plastic garbage bag which can be placed in your normal outdoor trash can if they are not accessible to any animal or children. You can then use liquid soap or detergent and a sponge or scouring pad to remove the antifreeze stains wherever they were spilt. 

4. Secure And Transport The Sealed Bottle Safely

Make sure that you have stored the antifreeze in a well-sealed bottle. Transport the old or faulty antifreeze or coolant on a very well-sealed plastic container. Tie the antifreeze container well, making sure that it is well secured in the back of your truck, car or on whatever vehicle you are transporting it. You can also label the container with the details such as when you changed the antifreeze, the chemical ingredients in it, etc. this will make it easier for the authorities in the hazardous waste disposal or recycling facility to determine what to do with your old antifreeze.


Antifreeze or coolants in your car contains all kinds of harmful chemicals. They include propylene glycol, ethylene glycol, or methanol which has different toxicity levels. They cannot be simply disposed of no matter what their toxic level is. You must follow the steps involved in how to dispose of antifreeze carefully. This will make sure that no harm is done to you or the environment. Hope this article proved helpful to you.

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