Yes, You Can Recycle Cooking Oil

After you’ve fried the chicken or sautéed the veggies, don’t pour the leftover cooking oil down the drain. While it may seem harmless, pouring used oil down the drain can wreak havoc on your home’s plumbing and local sewage systems.

Collect Your Cooking Oil

If you’re not already collecting leftover cooking oil in a container beside the stove (just like Grandma!), chances are your drain has some substantial buildup. Even though it’s liquid, oil, like grease, clings to pipes in small particles that latch onto each other, collecting until you have a clogged drain — or worse. In fact, cooking oil and kitchen grease are a major cause of clogged sewer pipes.

Plumbers will tell you to pour leftover cooking oil and grease in an old can, jar, or plastic jug, and when it’s cooled, just seal the container and toss it in the trash. But there’s an alternative to throwing it out.

Recycle Cooking Oil for Alternative Fuel

That’s right, your used cooking oil can be refined into an alternative fuel, or biofuel, that burns clean in most diesel engines. While many commercial facilities already contribute substantial supplies of oil for recycling, some programs invite households to recycle their excess cooking oil as well.

Use Earth911 Recycling Search to find a recycling location near you that accepts cooking oil. Also, some biofuel or biodiesel companies may provide additional drop-off locations around food-related holidays, such as Thanksgiving, so take advantage.

Be sure to check with the recycler for their requirements for oil storage and preparation and follow their guidelines. In general, don’t mix any water with the oil, try to filter out bits of food floating in the fat, and store the oil in a tightly sealed container.

Does filtering bits of food out of old oil sound gross? It’s not as bad as having to clean out your clogged drains later!

Editor’s note: Originally published on December 1, 2009, this article was updated in April 2020.

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  3. Hello Amanda,

    Excellent article! Looking for a place in Lancaster CA where I can drop off cooking oil for recycling. Would love to here from you on this.

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  5. If I cook poultry in cooking oil and then store it and reuse it for somethign else won’t there be harmful bacteria that I need to worry about?

    Btw you can also use cooking oil as an oil lamp! :)

  6. My colleague recycles her oil and dumps it right into her car. I am so jealous! Granted, I am in a Hybrid, but talk about reduce, reuse, recycle…wow!

    – Maurizio Maranghi –

  7. I am 65 yrs old, and growing up, we use to put a little of the cooking oil on the dogs food ( its good for their hair to make it shiny) an to help clean them out occasionally. We also used a thin dishcloth and poured it into another container to clean it out a few times. You may need help with this from a friend to recycle the oil. We use $40.00 of oil in our deep fryer to cook a turkey (3 min per pound of turkey and its good)… But I hate to dispose of all the amount of oil? Is it possible to pour it in the ground over the weedy part of your garden???? thanks, Donah

  8. I live in the Flint, Michigan area and am looking for a place that accepts used cooking oil. Where can I find such information? I cannot find it online anywhere.
    Lee Eck

  9. I take it to the nearby charbroiler burger joint and ask them if I can pour my oil into their oil drums. Soembody comes and takes that oil away.

  10. Local restaurants might take them. They normally have a big oil container in the back. It gets collected every week and the restaurants get pay for it.

  11. I live in Westerly, RI and am a director of Westerly Innovations Network. We have a team of middle school students who started Project Turn Grease Into Fuel. They sign up restaurants to donate their waste cooking oil and have established residential waste cooking collection sites at two municipal landfills. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the grease goes to our nonprofit organization. The grease is turned into biofuel. We in turn, donate it to charities who qualify families for heating oil assistance. You can do this in your communities. It helps solve several community problems – clogged sewers, financial assistance to families and eliminates CO2 from the atmosphere! Check out our website and contact us!

  12. I store my bacon grease in a jar in the frig. I than use it to fry tomatoes, or put a little in my green beans, brown my beef for beef stew, etc. It adds flavor. You would be surprised to find you can add just a little to a lot of different things.

  13. We save our cooking grease and make soap out of it. Easier than you’d expect, and soap for our laundry now costs about a penny per load, or less.

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