How to Dispose of Brake Fluid

Brake fluid is an essential component of a car that helps transfer the pressure you apply on the brake pedal to other parts of the braking system. Maintaining an effective braking system requires keeping the fluid level in check – keeping it from getting low and changing it when it is old.

When you change this fluid, you have to dispose of the old ones and safe disposal should come to mind. Having other thoughts than safe disposal of it is dangerous and unacceptable in society.

This article will answer the why and how questions of safe brake fluid disposal.

Why Is The Safe Disposal Of Brake Fluid Important?

Before you learn how to dispose of brake fluid safely, you need to understand why it is essential.

Whether you are dealing with used brake fluid drained from your car or new brake fluid that you need to dispose of, you must handle the disposal process cautiously.

Though brake fluid is not as volatile as many petroleum products, it could still be dangerous because it becomes toxic when contaminated.

When the brake fluid is in your braking system, it absorbs heavy metals that contaminate it, and when this brake fluid is drained and not disposed of safely, it becomes poisonous to humans and animals when ingested.

On the other hand, new and unused brake fluid may not be contaminated, but it tends to absorb water when it is open, and when it does, it will reduce its boiling point and increase the chances of it being flammable.

How to Dispose of Used Brake Fluid

get rid of brake fluid

There are different options for safely disposing of used brake fluid. You can dispose of it at home, at a hazardous waste disposal center, at a local auto shop, or recycle it. Let’s get into the details of each method.

Dispose Of Brake Fluid At Home

If you have a small quantity of brake fluid, going out of your home to dispose of it may be unnecessary. Instead, you can dispose of it at home but not by flushing it down the toilet, pouring it into the ground. Also, it is not safe to add it to other fluids like motor oil; you should dispose of motor oil as recommended.

Follow these steps to dispose of brake fluid at home

  • Get a clean kitty litter bowl or any metal pan to collect the brake fluid, then fill this bowl with about half-inch of kitty litter and add brake fluid to it. You can also fill this bowl with kitty litter while collecting brake fluid from your car.
  • Leave the kitty litter uncovered for 3 to 4 days. You should keep it away from the reach of children or pets and away from heat or flames because it is flammable. Since brake fluid is alcohol-based, it should evaporate in a few days, and the kitty litter too should absorb a reasonable volume of it.
  • After three days, check the kitty litter. Shake it to confirm if the brake fluid has yet to be evaporated or absorbed. If you notice left-over brake fluid, let the kitty litter wait for more days.
  • If you do not notice any left-over brake fluid, dispose of the kitty litter without fearing any danger. 
  • Put the kitty litter in a garbage bag, seal it, and dispose of it with the rest of your garbage.

Hazardous Waste Disposal Center

You may not be a fan of hazardous waste disposal or have more brake fluid than you can dispose of at home. The temptation to try unsafe methods of brake fluid disposal may come to your mind, but you should consider disposing of brake fluid at a hazardous waste disposal center.

Follow these steps to dispose of brake fluid at a hazardous waste disposal center

  • Find a hazardous waste disposal center close to you. These hazardous waste disposal centers are responsible for the disposal of wastes considered harmful to the environment. RCRAInfo Web is an excellent place to start if you are looking for a hazardous waste disposal center near you.

  • After finding a suitable hazardous waste disposal center, you should call ahead, especially if there is not enough information on how to safely dispose of brake fluid or other hazardous wastes. During this call, you should get important information like the center’s hours of operation, cost, and operation requirements.

  • After you get more information about safely disposing of brake fluid at your preferred hazardous waste collection center, you should take the brake fluid to the center. Typically, most hazardous waste collection centers do not offer pickup services, so you must drop off your hazardous waste. Ensure you keep the brake fluid in a sealed plastic container so it won’t spill while transporting it.

  • Although some hazardous waste disposal centers accept disposals for free, others request payment. Disposing of brake fluid may cost about $15, with hazardous waste disposal centers in large urban areas charging more. You can make this payment online or physically through cash or credit card. Many hazardous waste disposal centers that do not charge fees may request donations.

Also see: how to dispose of coolant

Visit A Recycling Center

Like disposing at a hazardous waste disposal center, recycling is another method to consider when you want to dispose of brake fluid safely. This safe disposal method also comes in handy when you have a lot of brake fluid at home.

To recycle Brake fluid, follow these steps

  • Find a waste recycling center near you. Unlike hazardous waste disposal centers, these waste disposal centers clean brake fluids and reuse them. You can easily find recycling centers on websites like Earth911 And Recycle Nation.

  • After finding a recycling center close to you, call ahead to get more information about the disposal of your brake fluid. You should also ask if you must pay to drop off the brake fluid. Some recycling centers that accept payment hold free collection events. These events are usually held monthly or annually.

  • Auto parts stores could also collect brake fluid for recycling. These auto parts stores are suitable substitutes for recycling centers, especially if you do not find a recycling center near you. Stores like AutoZoneFirestone, and Tires Plus accept brake fluid for recycling if it has not been mixed with any other vehicle fluid.

  • Deliver the brake fluid to your own recycling center or auto parts store. It would be best if you transported the brake fluid in a plastic container with a fitting lid. If you do not have this plastic container, you can visit the recycling center or auto parts store to pick one up.

Dispose Of Brake Fluid With A Local Mechanic Shop

Another safe way to dispose of brake fluid is to arrange with a local mechanic shop. You may use your mechanic shop or consult a close mechanic shop. 

This method may be best if you usually change your brake fluid at a mechanic’s shop. You can leave the old brake fluid with them after replacing it with new fluid, and they will take care of the disposal without charging you any fee. You may also be able to dispose of old tires at the shop.

Disposing Of Unused Brake Fluid

You can keep an unopened brake fluid at home or in your garage for as long as possible. Many vehicle manufacturers affirm that sealed brake fluid has an infinite life shell – it does not expire, and you can use it after months of keeping it.

However, the story is not the same when you open the seal. An opened brake fluid can go bad even though you did not use it, and it is not safe for your vehicle’s braking system.

Brake fluid will quickly absorb moisture from the atmosphere after you have cut the seal open, and more water in it will make it less effective; hence, it is best to dispose of it. Here are ways to dispose of unused brake fluids. 

Give It Away Immediately

Since it is not advisable to keep brake fluid after the seal is open, the best option is to give it out immediately. You can give it to your neighbors or friends or donate it to an auto-repairer. 

Giving it out to people that need it is best because it saves it from wastage, but you should warn the recipient to use it immediately and avoid keeping it at home.

Sell It!

Looking for some extra cash, your unused brake fluid could give you just that! You can sell your brake fluid on platforms like Facebook Marketplace. Simply take a picture and slap on a bargain price! 

Dispose Of As Old Brake Fluid

Unsealed brake fluid will become less effective unless you use it immediately. Therefore, you should dispose of it like used brake fluid if you cannot give it to people in need.

You can safely dispose of unsealed brake fluid using the ‘bowl with kitty litter’ method explained in this post. In this post, you can also choose any other method of disposing of used brake oil – visiting a hazardous waste collection center, recycling center, or a local mechanic shop.

How to Store Used Brake Fluid Before Disposal

It is not always convenient to dispose of old brake fluid every time you replace it, and you may want to store it over time before disposing of it in large quantities.

Storing brake fluid is as crucial as disposing of it; You must do both safely. It is also helpful because you can accumulate brake oil safely and reduce the number of brake fluid disposal trips you make.

The best way to store brake fluid is to keep it in its original container, keeping the container in a clean, dry area below room temperature. You should also avoid storing it near other petroleum products and ensure its lid is closed tightly to minimize the amount of moisture it will absorb.

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