Do’s & Don’ts

Below is a list of materials frequently used by hazardous material facilities. Learn some DOs and some DON'Ts. This information is offered only as guidance. For more information contact us at 954-519-1260. Environmental Complaints & Emergency Response 24-hr Hotline: 954-519-1499



Absorbents are used frequently to clean up repair shop spills. Absorbent material can be granular (kitty litter type) or a reusable foam variety. Absorbent foam pads can be used to absorb spilled oil and then pressed to remove the oil and reuse the pad. Absorbent booms (pigs) can be used to reduce the amount of absorbent material needed for cleanups by initially diking the spill. Absorbent usage can be significantly reduced by practicing good housekeeping procedures; e.g. use of drip pans, funnels, detection and repair of leaks, and pneumatic pumps.

  • DO practice good housekeeping to avoid the need for absorbents.
  • DO use reusable absorbent pads to absorb oil.
  • DO keep absorbent materials nearby to quickly clean up any spills.
  • DO use the minimum amount of absorbent to complete the job.
  • DO manage absorbent that comes in contact with a hazardous waste as a hazardous waste.
  • DO consider using small wet/dry vacuum cleaners for liquid spills.
  • DON'T put used absorbents into drains or on the ground.
  • DON'T mix used non-hazardous absorbent materials with used hazardous absorbents.


Brake cleaner and carburetor cleaner are often packaged in aerosol spray cans. When empty, these spray cans are not considered hazardous wastes. Remember, these cleaners can contaminate other solvents when mixed. Partially empty spray cans may be regulated as hazardous wastes because they contain ignitable propellants and chlorinated solvents.
  • DO use up the contents of an entire spray can before starting another. Make sure that the can is completely empty before discarding it.
  • DO return spray cans that malfunction (for example, the tip breaks off).
  • DO use refillable mechanical spray cans when possible.
  • DO establish a distribution control system to limit aerosol cleaner use.
  • DO consider phasing out the use of spray cans in your shop.
  • DON'T spray in/or around other solvents. Hazardous contamination may result.
  • DON'T discard partially empty spray cans in the trash dumpster.


Even though the ingredients are not hazardous, used antifreeze may become contaminated with lead or hazardous solvents at levels that would make the used antifreeze hazardous. If used antifreeze is not recycled, it must be tested to determine if it is a hazardous waste.

  • DO recycle your antifreeze through a recycling service or with on-site equipment.
  • DO make a waste determination of all antifreeze and all used filters before disposal if you are not recycling your antifreeze.
  • DO keep antifreeze in two separate, closed containers: one marked "'USED ANTIFREEZE ONLY” and one marked "RECONDITIONED or RECYCLED ANTIFREEZE."
  • DO use dedicated antifreeze collection equipment, including collection funnels, transfer pans or buckets, and well maintained storage containers.
  • DO keep antifreeze containers closed at all times except when emptying or filling.
  • DO keep antifreeze containers protected from the elements.
  • DO keep accurate records of used antifreeze shipments and filter management for 5 years.
  • DO use/purchase antifreeze with the longest life.
  • DON'T mix waste antifreeze with any other waste including used oil.
  • DON'T mix radiator flush chemicals with used antifreeze. Dispose of it separately.
  • DON'T dispose of antifreeze on the ground, in a storm drain, septic tank or dry well.


Aqueous parts washers have been proven to be cost effective and an environmentally friendly alternative way to clean automotive parts for most medium to large sized vehicle repair facilities. Any shop using four or more solvent parts washers should investigate switching to an aqueous parts washer with a recyclable waste water system. A recyclable system eliminates or minimizes potential wastewater disposal problems. Despite their environmental benefits, certain precautions need to be taken regarding waste water and sludge resulting from aqueous parts washer operations.

  • DO determine by testing whether your waste water or sludges are hazardous, then dispose of them appropriately.
  • DO check with your local sewer utility before discharging any wash water into the sanitary sewer system.
  • DO check with your sewer utility or city engineering department to verify your drains go to a sanitary sewer. Most outside drains and some inside drains do not go to a sewage treatment plant, but instead are storm drains that lead directly to a stream, lake, ditch, or drywell. Discharging waste water into any of these is prohibited and may contaminate ground water.
  • DO consider switching to an aqueous system if you are using mineral spirits based parts washers.
  • DO close off all drains that lead to storm sewers, drywells, or septic systems.
  • DON'T dispose of spray cabinet wash water down any storm drain, into a septic system, drywell, or on the ground.
  • DON'T dispose of sludge in the dumpster or onto the ground.


Brake and carburetor cleaners normally contain solvents. Their use can contaminate other, non-hazardous solvents. An aerosol can that will not function properly but is still full may be a hazardous waste. Under intense heat, chlorinated solvents usually break down into toxic substances. Examples of chlorinated solvents are: CFCs, Carbon tetrachloride, 1,1,1 Trichloroethane, Chlorobenzene. Look at Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) to determine if your cleaners contain chlorine.

  • DO consider replacing brake cleaners and carburetor cleaners that contain chlorinated solvents with non/less hazardous cleaners.
  • DO collect chlorinated brake cleaner or carburetor cleaner residue separately from other waste to avoid cross contamination.
  • DO keep brake and carburetor cleaner containers closed when not in use to avoid evaporation.
  • DO manage your spent chlorinated brake cleaners, carburetor cleaners, and cleanup residue as hazardous wastes.
  • DON'T dispose of brake or carburetor cleaner down any storm drain, or into a septic system, dry well, sewer, dumpster or on the ground.
  • DON'T use chlorinated brake or carburetor cleaners in or around other solvents. Do not mix them with any other solvents (e.g. parts washers) by spraying them over the open parts washer, or over open pans used to collect antifreeze or used oil.


Normally brake fluid is not hazardous. However, it can become hazardous when contaminated with brake cleaner from a spray can.

  • DO collect brake fluid in a separate, marked, closed container and contract with an EPD licensed waste hauler that will recycle it.
  • DO determine by testing whether your brake fluid is hazardous, and manage it accordingly.
  • DO check with your used oil hauler to see if mixing brake fluid with used oil is a problem.
  • DON'T spray brake cleaner around brake fluid.
  • DON'T pour brake fluid down any drain or on the ground.


When good housekeeping is not practiced, wash water may contain heavy metals and grease that need to be treated before discharging to the sewer. Remember, most exterior drains and some interior drains are not connected to a sanitary sewer system, but instead are storm drains that lead directly to a ditch, stream, lake, or drywell. Discharging contaminated wash water into a drain could contaminate groundwater. (See Dos and Don'ts for Absorbents)

  • DO practice good housekeeping by minimizing the number of times that floors are washed.
  • DO catch leaks before they spill onto the floor and dispose of the residue in the appropriate waste container.
  • DO check with the local sewer utility or city engineering department to verify that your drains are connected to a sanitary sewer system.
  • DO use a non-toxic floor cleaner that meets local sewer facility standards. Be sure to receive permission from your local sewer utility for your floor cleaning wastes to enter the sanitary sewer system.
  • DO clean small, non-chlorinated spills immediately with absorbent. Collect and reuse absorbent material until absorbing ability is gone.
  • DO use an oil/water separation system and maintain it regularly.
  • DON'T allow floor cleaning waste water to flow into a septic tank or drain (inside or outside) leading to a ditch, stream, lake or dry well.


Fluorescent and HID lamps contain mercury and in most cases are considered to be hazardous waste when disposed. Mercury is a toxic metal that can accumulate in living tissue and cause adverse health effects. When a lamp is broken or placed in a landfill or incinerator, the mercury can contaminate the air, surface water, and ground water. You are highly encouraged to recycle your mercury containing lamps rather than dispose of them. Contact DEP for a list of licensed lamp recyclers. When recycled, these lamps will not count toward your facility's hazardous waste generator status. However, if the lamps are determined hazardous and you choose to dispose of them in a hazardous waste landfill, they will count toward your facility's hazardous waste generator status.

  • DO recycle your fluorescent and high intensity discharge (HID) lamps. Lamps destined for recycling will not count toward your facility's hazardous waste generator status.
  • DO perform a hazardous waste determination on your mercury containing lamps if you choose not to recycle your lamps. Do dispose of your mercury containing lamps in a hazardous waste landfill if they are found to be hazardous. These lamps will count toward your facility's hazardous waste generator status. If these lamps are found to be non-hazardous, they may be disposed of with your regular trash in quantities of less than 10 bulbs per month.
  • DO store lamps in a manner that will prevent them from breaking. If lamps are broken, store them in a tightly sealed container marked "Spent Broken Mercury- Containing Lamps."
  • DO label your lamp storage area and each container as "Spent Mercury-Containing Lamps."
  • DO keep copies of any shipping papers for at least 3 years.
  • DON'T place used lamps from business, industry, or institutions in the regular trash until a hazardous waste determination has found them to be non-hazardous.
  • DON'T intentionally break or crush lamps because mercury may be released.
  • DON'T tape lamps together for storage or shipment. This may cause them to break.


Some auto repair shops use hot caustic (alkaline) tanks for cleaning greasy parts. The tank solution is changed infrequently. When the solution is changed, however, the spent solution and sludge from the tanks typically become hazardous wastes due to their corrosivity and heavy metal content. Many spent solvents are defined by rule as hazardous wastes and must be handled, stored, and disposed of by much more rigorous methods, with detailed record keeping requirements.

  • DO accumulate all sludges and spent solvents from hot tanks in a closed, marked container.
  • DO determine by testing if sludge and spent solvents are hazardous and manage accordingly.
  • DO consider alternative cleaning methods such as detergent based (aqueous) parts washers.
  • DON'T dispose of spent hot tank solution down any drain or on the ground.
  • DON'T dispose of hot tank sludge in a dumpster or on the ground.


Lead acid batteries pose a potential threat to human health and the environment if improperly discarded. The two main components of these batteries are sulfuric acid and lead. Both lead and sulfuric acid can contaminate soil and water. Sulfuric acid is highly corrosive and lead has been linked to central nervous system damage in humans, particularly children.

  • DO properly dispose of batteries by delivering them to: the wholesaler or retailer from whom you purchased the batteries, a permitted secondary lead smelter, a facility that recycles the batteries by extracting the lead, or a collection center that sends batteries to a smelter or recycler.
  • DO avoid long term storage of batteries. Dispose of them at least every 6 months.
  • DO store batteries upright in a secure, covered location on an impermeable (sealed) surface. Check often for leaks.
  • DO get a receipt and maintain records for 5 years.
  • DO promptly report large releases to the FDEP or the 24 hour Environmental Response Hotline. Package and handle spills as hazardous wastes.
  • DON'T place lead acid batteries in garbage to be collected.
  • DON'T take lead acid batteries to a landfill.
  • DON'T incinerate (burn) batteries.
  • DON'T pile batteries higher than four high.
  • DON'T store batteries out doors, unprotected from the weather.
  • DON'T pour battery acid onto the ground or into a drain.


Spent (used) mineral spirits normally represent the largest waste source of vehicle repair shops. Following the DOs and DON'Ts will save you money, and make it easier to stay in compliance with environmental regulations. Spent mineral spirits can be a hazardous waste but non-hazardous solvents for parts washers are now commercially available. Many older parts washers use mineral spirits, Stoddard solution, and petroleum naphtha that may be hazardous due to ignitability. Avoid contamination of non-hazardous mineral spirits with other hazardous wastes (e.g. brake cleaner, carburetor cleaner, etc.).

  • DO utilize the services of an EPD licensed waste hauler for transporting and disposing of spent mineral spirits.
  • DO make sure mineral spirits is too dirty for use before exchanging for new mineral spirits.
  • DO consider switching to a water based parts washer that does not use mineral spirits.
  • DO keep accurate records of spent mineral spirits' disposal for 5 years.
  • DO use only the minimum number of parts washers necessary to your operation.
  • DO lease/purchase only parts washers that have a recycling/filtration system.
  • DO use non-hazardous high flash mineral spirits in parts washers.
  • DON'T dispose of spent mineral spirits by pouring them on the ground or into drains, or by evaporating them in the air.
  • DON'T mix mineral spirits with any other wastes.
  • DON'T use aerosol spray cans near your parts washer.


Painting operations generate waste in three areas: (1) VOCs, which come from the solvent in the paint, are emitted into the atmosphere, (2) Paint "overspray" which results from using spray equipment with low transfer efficiencies or poor operator technique, (3) Solvents used in cleanup operations. Following the above DOs and DON'Ts should significantly reduce these wastes, reduce your cost and help the environment.

  • DO consider using High Volume Low Pressure (HVLP) spray guns. HVLP spraying is usually the most cost effective method.
  • DO ensure paint operators are well trained and kept current in new painting techniques. Join a professional trade association that provides information about improved painting methods and new paints.
  • DO use paint and solvents with the lowest possible Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) content. Limit your use of thinner to the maximum extend possible. Avoid paints containing metals, if possible. Work with your paint vendor to identify such paints.
  • DO check with Community Affairs and EPD Air Quality Division on the need for paint booths, filtration, and ventilation requirements. If required, use and maintain a properly designed spray booth.
  • DO change paint filters before they become clogged. Consider using reusable and dissolvable filters, and crushing filters to reduce waste volume.
  • DO practice good inventory control; buy only enough paint to complete the job. Do keep all paint and solvent containers closed when not in use to minimize evaporation. Schedule jobs so as to reduce the number of color changes. Schedule light colors before dark colors.
  • DO use Teflon coated cans for mixing paint. This reduces the amount of solvent needed for cleanup.
  • DO use a single solvent for cleanup and paint thinning, if possible. Use the cleaning solvent the maximum number of times before disposing. Consider purchasing a distillation unit if you are disposing of more than 750 gallons of solvent per year.
  • DO consider purchasing/leasing a paint gun cleaner; paint gun cleaners can reduce solvent use by at least 75%.
  • DO use an industrial rag service.
  • DON'T discharge any paint, solvent, and paint cleanup wash water into septic tank, sanitary sewer, storm drains, surface water or ground surface.
  • DON'T dispose of paint filters as a solid waste (put into dumpster) without first testing for hazardous waste, if you are using paints with metal content.


Shop towels (rags) may or may not be a hazardous waste depending on how they are used. If rags are used with hazardous solvents, the used rags potentially become a hazardous waste. The recommended way to deal with rags is to use an industrial rag service/laundry. If a rag service is not used, then you must determine that your rags are not hazardous before putting them in your trash.

  • DO keep soiled shop towels in a closed container that is clearly marked "CONTAMINATED SHOP TOWELS ONLY."
  • DO use less hazardous cleaning solvents (i.e., ones without chlorinated compounds), whenever possible.
  • DO set up a control system to limit rag use.
  • DON'T use disposable paper towels, wipes, or rags if the materials are expected to come in contact with a hazardous waste.
  • DON'T throw dirty wipes or rags into your trash dumpster if they have come in contact with a hazardous waste.
  • DON'T saturate rags.
  • DON'T dispose of solvents by pouring them into containers of used shop towels.


Sludges from your sump or oil/water separator could be a hazardous waste. You will need to test the sludge at a professional laboratory to determine if it is hazardous, or save testing costs by assuming the waste is hazardous and by managing it accordingly.

  • DO have the sludge tested by a state licensed laboratory when pumped out. Keep all testing records for five years.
  • DO contract with a permitted hazardous waste hauler to manage your sludge waste properly if it is determined to be a hazardous waste.
  • DON'T put hazardous sludge in the trash dumpster or on the ground.
  • DON'T use a septic tank pumping service to remove this sludge.


Solvents (principally from parts washers) are typically the largest hazardous waste stream generated by vehicle repair shops. Solvent use (and waste) can be reduced by reducing solvent cleaning requirements (if possible), extending solvent use and on-site recycling of spent solvent. Recycling can be achieved via lease/purchase of a parts washer that filters and recycles the solvent. If 750 gallons or more per year of solvents are being disposed of as a hazardous waste, installation of a distillation unit may become economically feasible.

  • DO make sure you understand the chemical properties of the solvent you are using and whether safe (non/less hazardous) solvents are available.
  • DO use solvents with the lowest possible Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) content.
  • DO find a multi-purpose solvent that can serve a variety of uses. This will increase the recycling potential of the spent solvent.
  • DO install drip racks, pans or other devices to prevent spillage.
  • DO extend the life of solvent baths. Pre-clean parts with rags/brushes, use old solvent as a pre-soak, use fresh solvent only for final cleaning.
  • DO consider on-site solvent recycling; e.g. distillation, filtration or decanting.
  • DO read DOs and DON'Ts for Mineral Spirits Parts Washers.
  • DON'T clean unnecessarily.
  • DON'T "overclean" parts.
  • DON'T mix hazardous and non-hazardous solvents.
  • DON'T discharge any solvent into septic tank, sanitary sewer, storm drain, surface water, or ground surface.


Transmission fluid is a crude-based petroleum product; it can therefore be managed the same as used motor oil. Hydraulic fluid, gear lube oils, metalworking oils and differential fluid are crude-based petroleum products as well. These waste oils are exempt from hazardous waste regulations if 1) they have not been contaminated by other wastes (i.e. some solvents), and 2) they are sent for recycling or burned for energy recovery.

  • DO manage used transmission and crude-based petroleum fluids in the same manner that you manage used oil.
  • DO review DOs and DON'Ts for Used Oil.
  • DON'T dispose of these fluids in a storm drain, septic tank, drywell, sewer system or dumpster.
  • DON'T accidentally contaminate your used oil container by mixing transmission or other crude-based petroleum fluids with even small amounts of brake cleaner, carb cleaner or other wastes. This could result in the entire load being classified as a hazardous waste.


Used transmission filters are normally not a hazardous waste, unless contaminated with heavy metals. If the filters are recycled (for scrap metal), they are exempt from hazardous waste requirements, including testing. Unlike oil filters, transmission filters do not retain oil on them and therefore, do not need to be crushed or split before being discarded, but must be recycled or reclaimed.

  • DO manage transmission filters with used oil filters if the used oil filter hauler approves.
  • DO locate a scrap metal recycler who will take the transmission filters.
  • DO put transmission fluid drained from filters in your "'USED OIL ONLY" container.
  • DON'T discard undrained filters in the trash dumpster.
  • DON'T discard drained filters in the trash dumpster without first making a hazardous waste determination and checking with the landfill that receives your waste to confirm whether the facility accepts such filters.


Current lubricant formulations contain many special additives to meet the requirements of today's high performance engines. These additives, combined with contaminants that enter the oil through normal engine wear or equipment operation, cause used oil to be considered a damaging environmental pollutant if not managed properly. Florida's hazardous waste regulations exempt used oil if 1) it has not been mixed or contaminated with hazardous wastes and 2) it is sent offsite for recycling or burned for energy recovery. The exemption is available only if proper records are maintained. However, used oil, because of the metals and other contaminants that are present in it, is considered to be a hazardous waste for most purposes. Transmission fluid and most other equipment lubricants are crude-based petroleum products and therefore can be mixed with used oil. Such lubricants must not be contaminated with hazardous solvents. If used oil is not recycled, it must be tested to determine if it is a hazardous waste.

  • DO keep used oil in a separate container, clearly marked "USED OIL ONLY."
  • DO keep accurate records of used oil testing and shipment for 5 years.
  • DO utilize the services of a used oil transporter registered with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and licensed by the PPRAQD. Evaluate transporters for the quality of service, compliance with environmental regulations and proof of current liability insurance. You may be liable for cleaning costs if your used oil is disposed of improperly.
  • DON'T mix used oil with even small amounts of other hazardous wastes or solvents, such as brake cleaner or carburetor cleaner. This could cause the entire container of used oil to be classified as a hazardous waste.
  • DON'T pour used oil onto the ground (even for dust suppression) or dispose of used oil in a storm drain, septic tank, drywell, sewer or dumpster.
  • DON'T mix used oil with other solid wastes destined for a landfill.


Used oil filters must be thoroughly drained of all oil prior to disposal. Florida law does not allow disposal of used oil filters in a landfill or in any trash destined for a landfill. If your local disposal company sends its collected refuse to a waste to energy (waste incinerator) plant, you may be able to obtain written permission to dispose of your drained used oil filters in the trash. These used oil filters must still be thoroughly drained.

  • DO drain, crush, split, or process by other means used oil filters to remove free oil from the filter.
  • DO keep processed filters in a separate container that is clearly marked "USED OIL FILTERS ONLY."
  • DO put oil drained from filters into your "USED OIL ONLY" container.
  • DO consider crushing used oil filters - this will increase the amount of oil drained and could reduce disposal costs.
  • DON'T put used oil filters in the trash dumpster unless you have documentation that the filters will be accepted by a waste to energy (waste incineration) plant approved to accept filters.


Floridians generate more than 15 million waste tires annually. When improperly managed, waste tires pose a threat to public health and the environment. Tire piles also represent a serious fire hazard. Waste tires are a preferred breeding site for mosquitoes, which are known to transmit various strains of encephalitis.

  • DO contract for the proper disposal of waste tires with a vendor approved by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP).
  • DO assure that your waste tires are disposed of at a permitted facility.
  • DO prevent the entrapment of water in tires by keeping them indoors or covered.
  • DO know that all haulers of over 25 tires must register with FDEP.
  • DON'T accumulate more than 1500 waste tires without a permit from FDEP.
  • DON'T burn or bury waste tires.