How to Dispose of RV Antifreeze: The Responsible RVer's Guide

How to Dispose of RV Antifreeze: The Responsible RVer’s Guide

Ever found yourself wondering, ‘What on earth do I do with this old RV antifreeze?’ You’re not alone, and we’re here to help! It’s crucial to dispose of RV antifreeze properly to keep our beautiful planet green and our water sources clean.

The short answer is you need to take it to a local recycling center or hazardous waste disposal site. But don’t stop reading here! We’ve got a truckload of practical advice, tips, and insights to make you a pro in RV antifreeze disposal. So, stick around, and let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of responsible RVing!

Proper RV antifreeze disposal is crucial to prevent environmental harm and comply with local regulations. 

There are various disposal methods for RV antifreeze. Still, it’s essential to never dump it onto the ground or into bodies of water, as it can contaminate soil and harm aquatic life.

When disposing of RV antifreeze, the first step is determining the type of plumbing system and coolant used in the RV. 

Some systems may require specific disposal methods. Therefore, it’s also essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

One option for disposing of RV antifreeze is dumping it into a sewer system or septic tank. However, this method may only be allowed in some areas, so it’s crucial to check local regulations before doing so. 

Also, dumping large amounts of antifreeze into a septic tank can cause long-term damage.

Another option is taking the RV antifreeze to a hazardous waste facility. This method ensures that the antifreeze will be disposed of properly and safely without harming the environment. However, this option may only be convenient and cost-effective for some.

Recycling is another way to dispose of RV antifreeze properly. Some recycling centers accept used antifreeze and recycle it for reuse. 

This method helps reduce waste and conserve resources while ensuring proper disposal.

Handling it carefully is essential regardless of which method you choose for disposing of your RV antifreeze. Always wear gloves when handling liquid chemicals and avoid spilling any on your skin or clothing.

Is RV Antifreeze Toxic?

RV antifreeze is a must-have for any RV owner, especially during winter. It helps to protect the plumbing system from freezing and bursting, which can cause significant damage to your RV. 

However, many people are concerned about the toxicity of RV antifreeze and whether it poses a risk to their health. In this article, we’ll explore the topic of toxic RV antifreeze and answer some common questions about its safety.

Is RV Antifreeze Toxic?

The short answer is that it depends on the antifreeze you use. Regular automotive antifreeze contains ethylene glycol, which is highly toxic if ingested in large amounts. 

Therefore, this type of antifreeze should never be used in an RV or any other application with a risk of human or animal exposure.

On the other hand, most RV antifreeze sold today contains propylene glycol instead of ethylene glycol. Propylene glycol is less toxic than ethylene glycol and is generally considered safe for use in RVs. 

Propylene glycol is used in many other products, including food, cosmetics, and medications. The FDA has classified propylene glycol as “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) for use in food.

However, while propylene glycol-based antifreeze is less toxic than ethylene glycol-based antifreeze, handling it carefully and avoiding ingesting is still essential. 

Suppose you ingest propylene glycol-based antifreeze in small amounts (such as accidentally swallowing some while working with it). In that case, you’re unlikely to experience any serious health effects.

What Are the Toxic Levels of Ethylene Glycol?

Suppose you’re using regular automotive antifreeze instead of RV-specific propylene glycol-based antifreeze. 

In that case, you must be aware of the risks of ethylene glycol poisoning. Ethylene glycol is highly toxic and can cause serious health problems or even death if ingested in large amounts.

The lethal dose of ethylene glycol for humans is estimated to be between 1.4 and 1.6 mL/kg of body weight. 

This means that a person weighing 70 kg (154 lbs) must ingest around 100 mL (3.4 oz) of pure ethylene glycol to reach the lethal dose.

However, it’s important to note that much smaller amounts of ethylene glycol can still cause serious health problems if ingested. 

For example, consuming as little as 30 mL (1 oz) of pure ethylene glycol can cause severe symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and kidney damage.

Is Propylene Glycol Safe?

Propylene glycol is considered safe for RV antifreeze and many other products when used as directed. 

In addition, the FDA has classified propylene glycol as “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) for use in food, which means that it’s not expected to pose a significant risk to human health when consumed in small amounts.

While there have been some concerns about the potential health effects of propylene glycol exposure in particular occupational settings (such as industrial workers exposed to high chemical levels), these risks are generally irrelevant to typical consumer uses such as RV antifreeze.

Generally, suppose you’re using RV-specific propylene glycol-based antifreeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions and taking appropriate safety precautions (such as gloves and goggles). 

In that case, you’re unlikely to experience significant health effects from exposure to propylene glycol.

Properly Disposing of RV Antifreeze: Step-by-Step Guide

Guideline for Properly Disposing of RV Antifreeze

Proper disposal is essential. Not only is it important for the environment, but also your health and safety. This section will discuss a step-by-step guide on adequately disposing of RV antifreeze.

Follow Your Local Waste Management Facility’s Guidelines

The first step in adequately disposing of RV antifreeze is to follow your local waste management facility’s guidelines. 

These guidelines may vary depending on where you live, so it’s essential to do your research beforehand. For example, some facilities may accept RV antifreeze as hazardous waste and require special handling procedures.

Do Not Pour RV Antifreeze into Drinking Water Sources or Septic Systems

It’s crucial to refrain from pouring RV antifreeze into drinking water sources or septic systems. Doing so can contaminate the water supply and harm aquatic life. 

Instead, consider using an approved disposal method, such as taking it to a hazardous waste facility or contacting a professional company.

Propylene Blend Can Be Safely Disposed Of in Solution with Water

Suppose you’re using a propylene blend of RV antifreeze. In that case, it can be safely disposed of with water before pouring it down a household drain. 

This method dilutes the solution enough not to harm the environment or plumbing systems.

Properly Store Any Leftover Product Until the Next Use

RV antifreeze can last for years if stored properly. Therefore, storing any leftover product is essential until its next use. Keep it in its original container and store it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Disposing RV Antifreeze

DO dispose of RV antifreeze properly to prevent environmental damage.

Proper disposal of RV antifreeze is crucial to prevent environmental damage. However, many people are unaware that pouring RV antifreeze down the drain or toilet can contaminate water sources and harm aquatic life. Therefore, it is essential to dispose of it correctly.

The first step in disposing of RV antifreeze is to check with your local waste management facility for proper disposal methods. 

They may have specific guidelines on safely disposing of it, such as bringing it to a hazardous waste collection site. Following these guidelines will ensure that the antifreeze is disposed of in an environmentally friendly way.

DON’T pour RV antifreeze down the drain or toilet, as it can contaminate water sources.

Pouring RV antifreeze down the drain or toilet is harmful to the environment and illegal in many areas. 

It can contaminate water sources and cause serious health problems for humans and animals alike. If caught, you could face hefty fines and legal consequences.

To avoid this situation, read the label on your RV antifreeze container before disposing it. The label should provide instructions on how to dispose of it safely without causing harm to the environment or violating any laws.

DO check with your local waste management facility for proper disposal methods.

As mentioned earlier, checking with your local waste management facility is crucial when disposing of RV antifreeze. 

They will have specific guidelines on how to dispose of it safely and legally, ensuring you do not harm yourself or others.

Furthermore, some facilities may offer recycling programs for used RV antifreeze containers. Recycling these containers reduces waste and helps protect our environment by preventing them from ending up in landfills, where they can take hundreds of years to decompose fully.

DON’T mix RV antifreeze with other chemicals or substances before disposal.

Mixing RV antifreeze with other chemicals or substances before disposal is never a good idea. Doing so can create hazardous and toxic materials that harm the environment and humans.

Always dispose of RV antifreeze separately from other chemicals or substances to avoid this situation. If you need help with how to dispose of other materials, check with your local waste management facility for guidance.

DO consider using non-toxic RV antifreeze alternatives to reduce environmental impact.

Using non-toxic RV antifreeze alternatives is an excellent way to reduce your environmental impact when camping or traveling in your RV. 

These alternatives are made from natural ingredients and do not contain any harmful chemicals that can harm the environment or aquatic life.

Some examples of non-toxic RV antifreeze alternatives include propylene glycol-based products, which are biodegradable and safe for the environment. Another option is using compressed air to blow out water lines instead of using antifreeze altogether.

The Impact of RV Antifreeze on Animals

Harmful Effects on Cats and Dogs

Animals, including cats and dogs, are vulnerable to the toxic materials present in RV antifreeze. Ingested or exposed to their skin can cause severe health problems. 

Ethylene glycol is a primary component of RV antifreeze that can be lethal if consumed by animals. It can lead to kidney failure and even death within 24 hours. 

In addition, vomiting, seizures, and difficulty walking may appear after a few hours of exposure.

Contamination of Water Sources

Improper disposal of RV antifreeze can contaminate water sources and harm marine life. The toxic chemicals from the antifreeze seep into the soil and groundwater, eventually reaching rivers, lakes, or oceans. 

Marine life, such as fish and other aquatic creatures, are susceptible to these toxins in the water bodies. Therefore, even small amounts of ethylene glycol can significantly impact marine ecosystems.

Health Risks for Humans

Humans who consume food or water contaminated with RV antifreeze may experience health problems. Ethylene glycol is harmful to humans, too; it affects the central nervous system and causes kidney damage leading to renal failure. 

In addition, ingesting contaminated food or water containing this chemical compound can lead to various symptoms, such as headache, dizziness, nausea, abdominal pain, and convulsions.

Importance of Proper Disposal

RV antifreeze is made up of toxic materials that pose a threat not only to animals but also to humans and the environment at large. 

Therefore, many people using this product in their recreational vehicles during winterization must dispose of it properly. 

Pouring it down drains or dumping it into sewers is illegal because wastewater treatment plants cannot remove all contaminants from the water before releasing them back into nature.

Chlorosis in Grass and Plants Caused by RV Antifreeze

Kill Grass and Plant Life with RV Antifreeze

RV antifreeze is a chemical material used to protect the plumbing system of recreational vehicles from freezing during winter. 

However, it can also cause chlorosis in grass and plant life due to its chemical composition. Chlorosis is when leaves turn yellow or white because of insufficient chlorophyll production. 

In addition, the lactic acidosis caused by RV antifreeze can lead to metabolic acidosis in plants, affecting their growth and health.

The Effect of Lactic Acidosis on Plants

Lactic acid is one of the primary components of RV antifreeze, which can be harmful to plants when absorbed through their roots. 

When lactic acid enters the plant’s system, it lowers the pH level, leading to metabolic acidosis that affects the plant’s ability to absorb nutrients and water. This condition causes chlorotic leaves that eventually wilt and die.

Furthermore, RV antifreeze contains ethylene glycol inhibiting photosynthesis and damaging plant cell membranes. 

Ethylene glycol is toxic to most living organisms, including humans, animals, and plants. It can cause severe damage to the central nervous system, kidneys, liver, lungs, and heart muscles if ingested or absorbed through the skin.

Late Winter Disposal

Late winter is a crucial time for disposing of RV antifreeze properly, as it can seep into the ground and contaminate soil, storm drains, and water tables. 

In addition, even small amounts of RV antifreeze can significantly impact grass color and lines.

When emptying black tanks or septic systems containing RV antifreeze into permafrost areas or near water sources such as rivers or lakes poses a risk for contamination. 

It’s essential to dispose of this chemical properly and avoid spilling any amount onto nearby vegetation.

Finding a Facility to Recycle or Safely Dispose of RV Antifreeze

It’s essential to do so safely and responsibly. Improper disposal can harm the environment and wildlife and potentially contaminate water sources. Fortunately, there are several options available for properly disposing of this product.

One option is to look for antifreeze recyclers or recycling centers in your area. These facilities specialize in collecting and processing used antifreeze for reuse or proper disposal. They may also accept other automotive fluids and products.

Another option is to utilize dump stations at RV parks or campgrounds. These stations are designed to dispose of wastewater from holding tanks, including antifreeze, safely. 

Be sure to follow any posted guidelines or instructions when using these facilities.

If neither option is available, you may need to contact local waste management facilities or hazardous waste collection sites. 

They can adequately guide how to dispose of the antifreeze according to local regulations.

It’s important to note that pouring RV antifreeze down sinks, toilets, or drainage fields is not a safe disposal method. This could harm septic systems and contaminate groundwater.

In rural areas where access to waste management facilities may be limited, it’s vital to take extra care when disposing of RV antifreeze. 

Consider contacting local environmental organizations or government agencies for guidance on safe disposal methods.

Ultimately, taking the time and effort to dispose of RV antifreeze properly is an essential part of being a responsible RV owner and protecting the environment. 

By utilizing recycling centers, dump stations, or waste management facilities, you can ensure that this product is disposed of safely and responsibly while minimizing its impact on our 


Is it OK to dump RV antifreeze on the ground?

No, it’s not advisable to dump RV antifreeze on the ground. It could potentially contaminate the soil and groundwater, which is harmful to the environment.

Is RV antifreeze hazardous?

Yes, RV antifreeze is considered a hazardous substance. It should be handled with care and disposed of properly to avoid environmental damage or harm to wildlife.

Can I drain antifreeze on the ground?

No, draining antifreeze on the ground can lead to environmental contamination. Always dispose of it at a certified waste disposal or recycling facility.

Is RV antifreeze toxic to fish?

Yes, RV antifreeze is toxic to fish and other aquatic life. It can cause significant harm if it ends up in water bodies, so it’s crucial to dispose of it responsibly.


Our team at HighwayDI is a group of passionate RV owners, mechanics, and industry experts who have come together to create the ultimate resource for RV troubleshooting and maintenance. We believe that the best way to learn is through hands-on experience, and we're committed to sharing our expertise with you.