How to Dispose of Windshield Washer Fluid

Windshield washer fluid is a common and useful substance for keeping car windscreens clean.

The substance will pose no risk to your vehicle. However, it can be dangerous if it’s not disposed of properly after use.

This is because it is considered a hazardous waste material.

Thus, whatever your reasons may be for dumping old or unused washer fluid, here’s a guide on how to dispose of windshield washer fluid.

How to Dispose of Windshield Washer Fluid

Proceed with caution when handling and disposing of windshield washer fluid. Some products can be more harmful than others.

Thus, these products can cause physical harm to you and those around you.

With that said, here’s what you must do for the disposal process.

Step 1. Understand the Risk Windshield Washer Fluid Can Pose

Windshield washer fluid typically contains a combination of detergent, water, and methanol.

Methanol is an alcohol and is extremely flammable.

Windshield Washer Fluid Can Harm Your Physical Health

Windshield washer fluid can harm your physical health due to its poisonous chemical properties.

It can cause blindness if it splashes into your eyes. At the same time, it can also be fatal if you accidentally ingest some of it or if it comes into contact with your skin.

Windshield washer fluid also releases toxic gases. Therefore, you must always be sure not to inhale any of the substance when handling or disposing of it.

Windshield washer fluid can be highly toxic to your body and others as well. So, take proper disposal very seriously.

Educating yourself on the risks of the substance can help ensure that.

Windshield Washer Fluid Harms Wildlife and the Environment

While it’s not okay to dump water and detergent down the drain, the same is not true for methanol.

Therefore, the health and safety of wildlife (aquatic life) and the environment overall can be harmed through improper disposal.

Therefore, you should never throw old, partially used, or unused windshield fluid down the drain.

You should also not try to dilute this hazardous waste material to put it in the drain.

Step 2. Get in Touch with Your Local Hazardous Waste Disposal Facility

Find a local hazardous waste disposal facility and contact them.

If you don’t know any in your neighborhood or city, check the internet or ask around. In some cases, such facilities may be a little out of your city.

Ask Your Local Hazardous Waste Disposal Facility About Disposal Guidelines

You must ask your local hazardous waste disposal facility about disposal guidelines for windshield washer fluid.

The disposal procedures may vary between home use and commercial use.

Your local hazardous waste disposal facility may provide you with specific disposal guidelines according to state and federal law.

Follow the official guidelines to prevent harm to the environment and save you from paying penalties.

If you fail to follow the disposal guidelines for hazardous waste materials, you may end up with a court case.

If it comes to that, you’ll have to spend money on attorney fees. You will have to give time and effort to the case.

Follow the lawful procedures to prevent unnecessary hassles.

Ask Your Local Hazardous Waste Disposal Facility about Packing the Material

Your local hazardous waste disposal facility may provide specific requirements for how to pack the substance for disposal.

Make it clear to the representative that you wish to dispose of windshield washer fluid.

Ask Your Local Hazardous Waste Disposal Facility About Pick-Up or Drop-Off Service

Some local hazardous waste disposal facilities offer pick-up services for waste material.

You will have to set up a time and location for the pick-up. The waste facility will take care of the rest.

Most hazardous waste disposal facilities will require you to drop off the waste material yourself.

Make sure to ask the representative about any special arrangement you must make for transportation. This way, you can prevent potential spillage.

Step 4. Select an Appropriate Container for Transfering the Windshield Washer Fluid

The original windshield washer fluid container can be recycled when it’s completely empty.

If you want to recycle it, you can transfer the windshield washer fluid into an appropriate container.

Use a metal or plastic container. Make sure that it has a secure lid that won’t let any liquid or gas escape when closed.

Step 5. Wear Appropriate Safety Attire When Handling

As mentioned above, windshield washer fluid contains a highly toxic ingredient.

Therefore, it’s vital that you wear appropriate safety gear to protect yourself from the potentially poisonous substance.

Wear Goggles to Protect Your Eyes

You should wear a pair of goggles with plastic on the sides of your eyes and above and below them.

This way, the windshield washer fluid won’t get into your eyes if there’s an accidental splash.

If you wear corrective lenses for visual impairment, make sure your goggles are large enough to fit your spectacles underneath.

Do not try to work on the disposal process with poor vision. A slight mistake could have catastrophic results.

Wear a Pair of Gloves to Keep Your Hands Safe

Even if you’re meticulously careful, you may spill some windshield washer fluid while transferring it to another container.

That is why you must wear a pair of latex or another type of gloves during the process.

You could wear medical gloves made from nitrile or latex. Surgical gloves offer a better fit, and examination gloves are typically more affordable.

Whatever glove material you choose, make sure it won’t let methanol pass through it.

In addition to that, wear gloves that provide you with sufficient mobility. As a result, there will be a lower risk of any tool or container slipping from your hands.

Wear a Long Sleeves Shirt and Long Trousers

Methanol can also be absorbed by the surface of your skin. Therefore, you should not leave any skin exposed while disposing of windshield washer fluid.

You can achieve that by wearing a long sleeves shirt and long trousers.

Consider attire that you don’t plan to wear again.

Spillages may stain your clothes. In addition to that, wear closed shoes too so that your feet aren’t exposed.

Wear a Mask or Other Type of Respirator

It’s in your best interest to wear a mask or other type of respirator while handling windshield washer fluid.

The mask will prevent you from inhaling some of the toxic gases released from windshield fluid.

Step 6. Work in a Secluded and Well-Ventilated Area

If you’re disposing of windshield fluid at home, make sure to pick a secluded spot. You do not want to be interrupted by anyone else in the home.

The interruption could lead to accidents, which could be highly dangerous.

You must, therefore, work in a room with a door that you can lock. This way, you can keep pets and children away too.

In addition to that, inform your family what you’re doing and how long you expect it to take.

At the same time, you should also work in a space that is well-ventilated. Ideally, there should be a window and an exhaust.

A poorly ventilated room will not let the toxic gases from escaping, putting you at greater risk.

Step 7. Transfer the Windshield Washer Fluid to the Container

Place the container for the windshield washer fluid on a workbench. Next, lift up the windshield washer fluid bottle over the container.

Hold it close to the container, tip it over, and gently pour the windshield fluid into the new container.

Make sure to let the windshield washer fluid gradually fall into the new container. Rushing it could make the liquid splash.

After all of the windshield fluid is transferred, hold the bottle over the container to allow the last few drops to fall into it.

Secure the Container

Place the lid over the container of the windshield washer fluid. Make sure the lid is secure so that it doesn’t open and spill during transportation.  

Next, close the lid of the original windshield washer fluid and set it aside. You can give this container to a recycling center.

If you do, mention what the container originally contained so that they can clean it appropriately.

Step 8. Hand Over the Windshield Washer Fluid to the Hazardous Waste Disposal Facility

The windshield washer fluid is now safe to hand over to the hazardous waste disposal facility.

If you have to transport it to the facility, deliver it at the drop-off time scheduled. You don’t want to take it there and learn that the facility is closed.

If you’re transporting it in your vehicle, place the container in your car’s trunk. So, it won’t stain the interior if it spills.

Also, try to place other material around it so that the container stays upright.

Last Few Words

Disposing of hazardous waste such as windshield washer fluid should always be done carefully.

Negligence on your part could risk the lives of sanitation workers or other living creatures. It also won’t much effort to dispose of it correctly.

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