Environmentally-Friendly Car Maintenance

​Vehicles are a source of many pollutants including oil and other automotive fluids. Mud, heavy metals, and road residues build up on vehicles and then run off during washing or when it rains. None of this is good for our waterways, but there are some easy ways to help keep pollutants from vehicles out of our streams.

Fix fluid leaks promptly

  • Don’t work on your car where oil, grease, and other fluids can wash into gutters or storm drains.
  • Use drip pans or tarps to catch leaking fluids.
  • Clean up any spills using sawdust, kitty litter, or other absorbent material. Sweep spills thoroughly and then dispose of the materials in the garbage.

Properly dispose of motor oil and other automotive fluids

Never pour motor oil or other automotive fluids down the storm drain.

Used motor oil can be recycled curbside in the red bin:

  • Pour oil into an unbreakable container
  • Cap tightly
  • Place container in the red curbside bin

Antifreeze can also be recycled at the curb:

  • Place it into a screw-top see-thru plastic jug
  • Separate from motor oil.
  • Place well-sealed container in the red bin. 

Solvents and gasoline cannot be collected curbside. These items are accepted at the Household Hazardous Waste Facility located at the Salem/Keizer Transfer Station at 3250 Deer Park Dr. SE in Salem.

Where to wash your car

When you wash your car in your driveway or in the street, all the soap and grime you rinse off makes its way to the storm drain and directly into local waterways where it can harm fish and wildlife. It’s not just dirt you’re washing off your car, but also oil, other automotive fluids, and heavy metals that accumulate on your vehicle.

You can prolong the time between car washes by dry dusting your vehicle. Dry dusting in between washes will leave your car looking clean without adding any wash water runoff to storm drains. You can find dusters specifically for vehicles online and in stores.

When it is time to wash your vehicle, take your vehicle to a commercial car wash. High pressure washing used at carwashes is effective at cleaning with less water. Commercial car washes even clean and reuse water.

If you wash your car at home, do it on an unpaved surface, such as gravel, or channel the water to a landscaped area, such as your lawn. Use just enough soap to do the job. Using just enough biodegradable soap won’t hurt the lawn, and it has the added benefit of watering while you wash.

You could also support and/or plan an environmentally-friendly car wash as a fundraiser.

Man using a pressure spray nozzel to wash car.

High pressure washing used at carwashes is effective at cleaning with less water.

Contact us

Clean StreamsNatural Resources Outreach Public Works Department
8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
Sign up for mailing list: 
Stream Currents