You might not think much about that old five-gallon can of gas in the garage, but it could be a source of deadly pollution. Gas left to evaporate or otherwise escape into the air is one of the leading sources of smog and acid rain.
One way to avoid this problem is simply to pour leftover gas from lawnmowers, snowblowers, chain saws, leaf blowers, etc. into another container such as an empty milk jug or soda bottle before disposing of the little bit that remains in their containers at the end of each season.
Also, remember to thoroughly clean out containers with a gasoline smell after they’ve held gasoline. Similarly, you’ll want to make sure your automobile’s gas tank has been cleaned and dried out whenever it’s been used.
If the smell is especially strong on your hands, you might want to wash with soap and water immediately after handling gas containers or old gasoline.
Given a few months, petrol will evaporate from its container so you may think that pouring it into another container is pointless, but studies show that just having the extra air space around the liquid can reduce evaporation by half while also making cleanup easier.
And if those precautions aren’t enough for you, then consider disposing of old gasoline in an EPA-approved waste disposal facility where it can be properly cleaned up and rendered harmless before being released back into the environment.
Step by Step Guide to Dispose of Old Gas
As you may be aware, gasoline is a wonderful product that provides us with lots of fun things to do like drive cars and motorcycles. It’s also a useful substance for all the power tools (and their batteries) around your house.
However, one downside to having so much fuel around the home is that you have to find somewhere safe to dispose of it when you’re done with it.
Here are some simple instructions for how to get rid of old gas:
- Never carry or move gas containers by hand, always use a cart, vehicle or device designed for the purpose.
- Keep all fuel covered and out of reach of children at all times!
- Once a container has been emptied, do not re-use it for storing fuel or any other purpose until it has been thoroughly cleaned and dried! Use a wire brush if necessary to clean inside of tank. This is especially important if the container was used for gasoline – which can soak into porous material such as wood over time.
- Use a funnel and pour all of the old fuel into a sealable container such as a milk jug or some other form of plastic bottle. This is done in order to contain the fumes and vapors until they are properly disposed of outside if possible.
- Wear an appropriate filter mask when you handle gas to reduce exposure to harmful substances which may have settled within the liquid. If you don’t have one, use multiple layers of cheese cloth cloth on top of your mouth and nose instead while wearing gloves for safety purposes.
- Take your sealed milk type jugs along with your old gas can to a special facility that handles waste products from oil and machinery. If you don’t have one in your area, contact the local Department of Environmental Protection for assistance in finding the nearest location.
- If you are unable to leave your old gasoline container at an appropriate disposal facility due to a lack of available options near where you live or work, consider using it as a fuel source for some type of small combustion device like a propane generator. Just be sure to properly cover up any open end of the container so that fumes aren’t released into the air before lighting its contents on fire.
- It is best to dispose of your used gas container by taking it to a landfill site for trash removal.
- Use tank transportation devices that lower the risk of dropping and leaking tanks, use a cart with wide wheels if possible and always keep them in balance during transport. Open valves should be shut before lowering the tank onto a vehicle or cart. Do not lift by handle on top as this is a universal failure point for these types of tanks which are under pressure! When you arrive at your destination, make sure any leakage of gas/liquid stops before opening valve to unload.
- If you are working in an enclosed space like a garage, you must install and maintain a proper exhaust ventilation system to remove the carbon monoxide produced by burning gas-powered tools or vehicles. This also reduces other dangerous pollutants such as oxides of nitrogen and hydrocarbons. Proper ventilation is critical!
- Do not place gas containers where they can be knocked over and cause injury. If in doubt about the safety of a location for a fuel container, install an appropriately rated guardrail or other bump-prevention device such as a strong wall-mounted barrier made from wire mesh affixed by cement, metal or screws (use only non-flammable attachments)!
- If you have any doubts about whether it’s safe to transport old gas, get professional advice. Your local fire department should be able to assist with this.
- When working around old gas, switch off any spark-producing devices such as radios, TV sets, etc. because they are likely to cause a fire if there is a leak from gaseous fuel. If you detect a gasoline smell in your home, building, garage, etc., immediately check for sources of ignition nearby and make effort to avoid coming into contact with leaking flammable liquids.
How to Clean Oil-Contaminated Equipment
Here are some basic instructions for cleaning oil-contaminated equipment:
- Disconnect the spark plug and set the engine to on position.
- Remove or loosen all screws, bolts, nuts, etc. that are holding down the underside of your equipment (for ATVs: underneath the seat).
- Carefully pick up some of the oil soaked dirt on your feet without scraping off any soil with it (or using a rag to wipe off machinery containing grease) and then dump debris in a trash bin which you can seal tightly with duct tape or other strong adhesive material. Don’t even use plastic bags for trash bins since gasoline will seep through anything no matter how thin it is.
- Use a cleaning solution made specifically for cleaning up oil spills such as Bio-Clean to clean off any remaining dirt before wiping down and towel drying your equipment.
- Use a paper towel or other absorbent material which has been soaked in gasoline to wipe down your machinery again after you have rinsed it off with water; this will help remove as much oil residue as possible. But you’ll definitely want to wash your machine again in the future using soap and water.
- Dispose of all towels, cleaning solutions, etc. that have come into contact with oil by bagging them tightly and disposing of them in an approved waste disposal facility. Do not even attempt to burn such items since they can give off toxic fumes when burned!
- Use a blow dryer to finish drying out any parts of your machinery with moisture still in them and then give it another wash with soap and water before using again.
- If, after moving your equipment into sunlight, you see oil residue forming on your machine, the most likely explanation is that there were still some drops of oil on the underside which had not been cleaned off from its previous use. Rinse off those areas using a wet paper towel, let dry again for half an hour or so (in direct sunlight if possible) and then re-wash, rinse and towel-dry as described above.
Note: gasoline can damage paint jobs until they are properly dried out so, in order to avoid damaging your equipment’s paint job, we recommend that you rinse off your machine after washing it and then let it dry in direct sunlight prior to putting the equipment away for storage.