Tips and guidelines to help you dispose of cooking oil in your apartment or house

Cooking oil is an essential ingredient in many kitchens—but what exactly are you supposed to do with a pan full of used oil, or an unopened bottle of expired oil that’s chilling in your pantry? While dumping your oil down any sort of drain (we’re talking sinks, toilets, storm drains) is a big no-no, there’s still plenty of ways to safely dispose of or even repurpose your old or expired oil. With just a few minutes of extra care and diligence, you can do your part to help the environment, and potentially save yourself from a pesky plumbing bill further down the line.

Things You Should Know

  • Pour your cooled cooking oil (or expired oil) into a sealed container and toss it out in the trash. Never pour it down a sink, toilet, or storm drain.
  • Blot up small amounts of oil with a sheet of newspaper or paper towel before composting it.
  • Strain your used cooking oil into a jar and reuse it within 1-2 months. Throw out the oil when it looks hazy and/or develops a layer of foam.
Method 1
Method 1 of 2:

Disposal & Recycling Options

  1. Wait until the oil is completely cooled off before you start disposing of it. Then, drain the oil into a secure container, like the oil bottle itself.[1] Toss the sealed bottle out in your trash can and dispose of it like you would any other trash.[2]
    • Old cola bottles and milk jugs are great vessels for your old cooking oil (as long as you still have the lid for them).[3]
    • If you’re getting rid of expired/unused oil, simply toss out the container itself. Just make sure that the lid is unopened or tightly sealed beforehand!
    • You can also use a product like FryAway or a FryAway alternative like SolidiFry, Hard Oil, or stearic acid to harden the leftover oil. Once it’s solid, throw away the oil (no need to put it in a container first).[4]
  2. Pour small amounts of the unused (or expired) oil into the cat litter, mixing the rest of the oil in gradually. Once all the oil is all absorbed, transfer the oil-soaked litter to a sealable bag and toss it into your trash can.[5]
    • Don’t have any cat litter? Sawdust, flour, and sand are also great mediums for absorbing oil.[6]
    • If you have tons of oil to get rid of, you might not have a sealable container that’s big enough to handle the job. In that case, pouring the oil into an absorbent material before tossing it out can be handy.[7]
  3. Compost small amounts of oil with newspaper or paper towels. Grab a sheet of newspaper or a paper towel and rub it into some of the unused oil in your pan. From there, toss the oil-soaked paper towel or newspaper into your compost bin.[8]
    • Composting works best with small portions of oil, like the leftover oil from sauteeing or pan-frying something. If you have a lot of used oil on hand (like the leftover oil from a deep fryer) it's better to dispose of it in a large, sealable container.
  4. Recycle the oil by following your local government’s specifications. Many cities, towns, and municipalities have specific recycling procedures in place for household materials like cooking oil. Check your local government website to see the proper procedures to learn how you can dispose of your oil in a safe and efficient way.
    • In some places, you might be able to pour the oil into a sealable container and leave it outside next to your recycling can.[9] Other places might have specific drop-off spots where can donate your used cooking oil.[10]
  5. Check in with a local eatery and ask if they’re willing to get rid of some of your leftover oil. Restaurants typically use bulk tanks or drums to handle their leftover oil—they might be willing to toss your old or expired oil into the mix, as long as you ask.[11]
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Method 2
Method 2 of 2:

Reusing the Oil

  1. Strain the oil and save it for later in a glass jar. Once the oil is no longer piping hot, pour it through a metal strainer covered in multiple layers of cheesecloth. After the oil is filtered of any leftover crumbs and food bits, pour it into a sealable container. Label the oil with the current date and stash it in the refrigerator—reused oil lasts for about 1-2 months.[12]
    • Not totally sure if you want to reuse your oil or not? Transfer it to a sealable container and stash it in the freezer for around 2 years.[13]
    • Try to reuse your oil in similar dishes—for instance, oil used to make fried chicken isn’t a great option for frying donuts or funnel cake.
    • Warning: Always inspect your oil before you reuse it. If the oil smells bad, looks hazy, and/or has foam on the surface, toss it out.[14]
  2. Want to learn a new hobby and get rid of some old oil in the process? Filter and clean 1.4 oz (40 g) of old oil by combining it with a 100 mL (3.4  fl oz) 10% saltwater solution for an hour. Then, strain the mixture, stir in 5 mL (0.17  fl oz) of hydrogen peroxide, and add 4 g (0.1 oz) of lye solution to create the soap.[15]
  3. Don’t want to bust out any harsh chemicals? Pour some cooled cooking oil into a spray bottle and spritz all over the pesky weeds. Pretty soon, the oil-smothered weeds should vanish from your garden![16]
  4. Soak a clean rag in a little bit of used cooking oil and rub it all over your gardening tools. Believe it or not, the extra oil can help keep your tools clean and rust-free in the coming months.[17]
    • Some people like to apply leftover oil to their pans and pots, as well as other other metal surfaces (like bike chains).
  5. Repurpose unused olive or coconut oil as a makeup remover or hair treatment. Gently rub unused oil over any makeup or cosmetics you’d like to remove. Feel free to transform your leftover olive or coconut oil into a hair mask. Working your way from the roots down, apply the oil all over your hair. Then, cover up your hair with a shower cap and let the oil soak for 1 hour before washing your hair with shampoo.[18]
    • Warning: Make sure that the oil isn’t rancid before using it on your hair and skin! Give the oil a sniff before you use it—if it smells bad, it’s no longer good to use. For unrefined oils (such as extra-virgin olive oil), carefully taste a small spoonful of it to see if the flavor seems off-putting.[19]
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Community Q&A

  • Question
    Where should I keep my oil jar?
    wikiHow Staff Editor
    wikiHow Staff Editor
    Staff Answer
    This answer was written by one of our trained team of researchers who validated it for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
    wikiHow Staff Editor
    wikiHow Staff Editor
    Staff Answer
    A good spot would be under the kitchen sink where it won't get used accidentally and its greasiness won't be a problem for food packaging nearby.
  • Question
    Why do you not pour used cooking oil out down the sink drain or in the yard?
    Community Answer
    Community Answer
    Because over time, oil poured into a sink can create a clog, especially when it is done repeatedly over time. It could also damage your soil and plants.
  • Question
    What is the shelf life of olive oil?
    Community Answer
    Community Answer
    It can be as long as 3-4 years for an early harvest, high-polyphenol olive variety that has been filtered and packaged in a well-sealed tin or dark bottle, but that's not always the quality of olive oil you'll be using, so it's best to buy your olive oil in small quantities and use it within 6 months.



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About This Article

Abyssinia Campbell
Co-authored by:
Executive Chef
This article was co-authored by Abyssinia Campbell and by wikiHow staff writer, Janice Tieperman. Abyssinia Campbell is an Executive Chef and the Owner of Chef Abyssinia, Personal Chef and Catering. With over ten years of experience, she specializes in catering, event planning, menu development, meal planning, and food business operations. When it comes to cooking, Chef Abyssinia enjoys using fruits, vegetables, healthy food alternatives, and local farm-fresh ingredients. She holds a BASc in Culinary Arts and Food Service Management from Johnson and Wales University. This article has been viewed 2,015,370 times.
8 votes - 75%
Co-authors: 36
Updated: July 26, 2023
Views: 2,015,370
Article SummaryX

To dispose of cooking oil, start by letting it cool completely. Once it's cool, pour it into a full trash bag so the scraps absorb some of the oil. If you don't have a full trash bag, put the oil in the freezer until it hardens. Then, use a spoon to scoop the oil out into the trash. You can also pour the oil into a sealable plastic container and then toss the container in the trash. Keep reading the article if you want to learn how to reuse or recycle your cooking oil!

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