Tips for Environmentally Friendly Car Care

Keep Trash Oil, Solvents, and Toxics out of Our Creek  oilquart

Did You Know?
•    A drop of oil can pollute a million drops of fresh water
•    A single quart of oil can pollute 250,000 gallons of drinking water
•    Everything that washes into gutters and storm drains from your car ends up in the Chesapeake Bay
•    Cooperstown New York is in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed

Just Imagine the Damaging Effects of this Huge Area Draining into the Chesapeake Bay

Good Creek Neighbors Can Keep Cars from Polluting

Washing Your Car
Do you wash your own car?  Dirt, oil, gas and heavy metals come off your car with the dirty water, so:

•    Wash your car on gravel or grass where the water will not run off into the street and into storm drains
•    Use earth friendly cleaners and soaps that o not contain phosphates and are marked “biodegradable.”
•    Use hoses with nozzles that automatically turn off when you are not using water.
•    Help pass the word and consider a storm drain-stenciling program in your neighborhood that marks each drain with the words BAY DRAINAGE AREA.

Running a Charity Car Wash?

Get help from a pollution prevention program for instructions on how to block of the storm water.  There are special inserts for the drains that catch the water, vacuum pumps to pump it of to a grassy area and special protective booms.

Maintaining Your Car and Engine

Keep the number of cleaners used to minimum.  All liquid cleaning should be done in a centralized station so that solvents and residues stay in one place.  Properly locate all drip pans and draining boards to direct solvents and oil into a container for reuse or recycling or proper disposal as hazardous waste.

Use non-chlorinated solvents such as kerosene or mineral spirits.  Buy recycled products such as engine oil, transmission fluid, antifreeze and hydraulic fluid.

Control Spills – Use as little water as possible to clean spills, leaks and drips.  Use rags for small spills, dry absorbent material for larger spills, and bag up and put in in the trash.  Use a mop for general clean up, and rinse out in a sink or toilet, not over the ground.

How to Prevent or Reduce Pollution Caused by Routine Car Maintenance

  • Do maintenance work such as fluid changes indoors
  • Watch out for leaks – look under parked vehicles and place a pan to catch the drips.
  • Take all used fluids to a waste facility such as the Anne Arundel County, MD Landfill and Waste Management station in Millersville for proper recycling or disposal.
  • Do not pour liquid waste down floor drains, sinks or outdoor storm drains.  Put in container and recycle.  Use drain mats to cover drains in case of a spill.  Store cracked batteries inside another leak proof container.

Other Simple Things to Do - - if you have a car, lawnmower or anything with a gas or diesel engine:

RECYCLE all engine oil and catch all drips when changing the oil
FUEL up carefully to avoid spills
CLEAN UP spills with absorbent cloth, double bag the cloth and put it in the trash
REPAIR all leaks in the engine
TUNE UP for fuel efficiency and controlling air pollution
SAVE GAS by planning to run your errands on one outing
WALK or ride a bike or use public transport when you can
WHEN BUYING A CAR, choose one that gets good gas mileage
RECYCLE Air condition coolant.  Ask your mechanic about this.
BE CAREFUL with Anti-Freeze and Automatic Transmission Fluid.  They are toxic.
RECYCLE all batteries.  Store under cover when not in use.

Where to Recycle:  Annapolis and Anne Arundel County residents can recycle oil and batteries at the Millersville Landfill on Burns Crossing Road free of charge.  Show your driver’s license with your address.  Twice a year, there are special hazardous waste collection days.  Watch for notices in the newspaper.  For more information, go to Maryland Environmental Service at

•    Wash your car on gravel or grass
•    Use soaps/cleaners marked “biodegradable”
•    Fuel our car with care
•    Watch for leaks, control spills
•    Use-non-chlorinated solvents

References and Resources
Spa Creek Conservancy
Center for Watershed Protection
Maryland Department of the Environment