DEF Disposal Regulations: How To Dispose Of Old DEF Fluid

It does become quite a guessing game when it comes time to dispose of the different fluids you have in your vehicle. Some are toxic and need proper disposal while others can literally be thrown away and forgotten about.

With all the discussion between the terms organic and synthetic, some people have a negative concept of the Urea found in DEF. The good news is that the synthetic variety is good for your lawn when disposed of in the right amounts. Too much in one spot can burn the foliage of plants.

To learn more about this topic, just continue to read our article. It has the information you want to know about so you can dispose of your DEF properly. To do this is far simpler than you may have imagined.

How To Dispose Of DEF Fluid


It does not take a degree in rocket science to know how to dispose of this vehicle's liquid. There are innumerable options at your disposal and any one of them will not harm the environment.

The first step in this operation is to drain the DEF fluid from your vehicle. You will need to use a plastic sealable container because DEF can corrode metal. There is no drain plug on the DEF container. You will have to find a siphoning tool to get it out.

Once the DEF is in your container or containers, the fun begins. The manufacturer of DEF states that you should take the liquid to your local Hazardous Waste Materials Recycling Center.

But these recycling centers do not take it because DEF is classified as a fertilizer/herbicide/pesticide. Then 20+ gallons would be considered agricultural and less than 5 gallons would be classified as residential.

As of this year and counting, there is no authorized statement on how to dispose of your old DEF.

Contaminated DEF Disposal

According to NoxGuard a DEF manufacturer, if the amount you are disposing of is 2.5 gallons or less, then just dispose of it. It doesn’t matter what the fluid or other contaminant is.

Plus, it is impossible, according to that company, there is no way to clean out the container once it has been contaminated. Now that is just the bottle holding the DEF.

For the fluid, you will need to contact your local hazardous waste materials recycling center for instructions on disposal. Laws vary from state to state and it will depend on what contaminant was put into the DEF tank as to how you will dispose of the liquid.

If you happen to spill any DEF on the ground, then use sand or sawdust to soak it up and then shovel the dirt in that area into a proper waste disposal bag. Then dispose of the bag in the proper manner.

Can You Dispose Of DEF in An Old Coolant Container?

So far our research has not turned up anything specific about this topic. The reason may be that most experts only talk in general about the plastic containers you are to use.

It boils down to the state of the coolant plastic jug. If it has been cleaned and dried, then there should be no problem in using this container to hold your old DEF. It is plastic and sealable so that should not be a problem.

If it still has some coolant inside, even a trace amount, then you should call your local hazardous waste material recycling center and see what they say. As we reported, regulations vary from state to state.

Or if you do not get a satisfactory answer from those organizations, you can contact the people at this link and ask your question. Be specific in your message so the people on the other end can answer your question in the best way possible.

The containers you do not want to use will be metal ones as DEF and metal do not get along.

Where Can I Dispose Of DEF Fluid?


This is a good question. DEF is not a toxic or hazardous material so it will not be accepted by your local hazardous waste organizations. They will probably refer you to some other waste disposal option as DEF is classified as agricultural or residential waste material.

Since each state has its own set of rules for disposing of this liquid, you should contact your state’s office in charge of the disposal of different fluids and see what they say.

We would hate to jump on the bandwagon and tell you to use it as fertilizer as some organizations advise against that action. But the majority of people responding to this question on the different discussion forums say that is the best disposal option.

They just warn everyone not to put too much DEF in one area as it can damage some plant life. Some people have suggested using your toilet or drains but we will leave that option up to your discretion.

It is best to talk to your state, county, or city offices and see what they say. Follow their rules to stay out of trouble.

DEF Disposal Regulations

As we reported earlier, there is no official word on how to dispose of this fluid. But that doesn’t mean that there are no official regulations. It just means nothing public has been said about this issue.

In doing our research, we came across this little tidbit from Florida: “The department’s review of the MSDS information has determined the DEF gives off an ammonia odor which would meet the definition of an ammonia derivative in the regulation.

However, the product contains less than 0.3% ammonia. Therefore, it would meet the de minimis exemption provided in the regulations, making this product exempt from the requirements of 62-761 and 62-762, Florida Administrative Code. (source)

Then from the USA DEF data sheet, we found this: “Do not contaminate lakes, streams, ponds, estuaries, oceans, or other waters by discharge of waste effluents or equipment rinsate. Dispose of waste effluents according to federal, state, and local regulations. Chemical additions or other alterations of this product may invalidate any disposal information in this SDS.” (source)

We put in bold the keywords. If the DEF is contaminated, then you should follow the rules of disposal for the hazardous material that contaminated the DEF.

DEF Disposal Procedure

The first step in this process is to get a hand siphon pump. There is no drain plug so you cannot drain it like oil. Next, make sure you have a plastic container large enough to hold 2.5 gallons of DEF or whatever the size of your DEF tank is.

After emptying the tank, if it has been contaminated you must replace the tank with a new clean one. There is no way to clean a small tank and if you do not clean it, the new fluid will become contaminated as well.

Once you have gone through that process, disposal is a matter that needs to be done in accordance with city, county, state, and federal regulations. If there are any. DEF is non-toxic and can be good for your yard if you dispose of it in the right quantities.

If you are going to hold onto your old DEF then do not use metal containers. The time will allow the DEF to corrode the metal but if you are just simply using the metal container to transport the fluid to its next destination and little time is involved, then go ahead and use a metal container.

Our research does not indicate any real problem if you dispose of it in your lawn, garden, flower bed, or in your sewer system. It is just that people advise against this disposal method.

Finding DEF Disposal Near Me


This will take a few phone calls. You can call the city, county, or state agency in charge of the disposal of vehicle fluids. Or you can call different mechanics and dealers and see what they say.

So far, we have not found any DEF disposal stations listed or mentioned anywhere. As we reported earlier, this fluid is classified as agricultural and residential.

Those disposal options may or may not have a place to take your DEF fluid and there is no guarantee it will be close to you if there is one. If we were to support the lawn, etc., disposal method, then there is always one near you (including your toilet or bath drain).

We cannot say specifically where a disposal site would be as there has been no official word from any state that they have set one up. If the DEF has been contaminated with a hazardous waste material, then talk to your local hazardous waste management centers.

Those are usually located near your local garbage landfill sites.

Getting Rid Of Diesel Exhaust Fluid

We won’t tell if you don’t. There is a quick way to get rid of your DEF fluid and it is recommended by about 99% of the people on the different discussion forums. You can use this fluid as fertilizer because it contains nitrogen.

Nitrogen is supposed to be good for lawns, etc., and it will be up to you to dilute it to the right mixture so you do not harm your grass. We are not recommending this method but it may be the only option you may have.

It seems that no one is worried about this product because it is non-toxic, and non-hazardous, except for metal, and it is made from Urea which is found in all fertilizers. But if you are not sure about that option, talk to people like your mechanic and auto dealers to see what they can do for you.

DEF Fluid on Grass

We have alluded to and mentioned this option several times throughout this article. It is one of the most popular suggestions on all the discussion forums we have read concerning this topic. Here is one example:

So the DEF drained from your tank or 32.5% Urea fertilizer are the same. Urea is a great fertilizer with a nitrogen content of 46%. It will not kill plants when properly applied, applied too heavily it will burn the foliage of plants and grass.” (source That quote is the second to last on that thread page)

One thing is for sure, your normal pee may contain Urea but it is not the same. You cannot pee into your DEF tank when you are low on DEF. Some people have given some thought to that option but it does not work and you end up ruining your DEF system

How To Dispose Of Empty DEF Containers


We reported on this earlier as well. It is impossible to clean out the small DEF 2.5-gallon tanks. It is also impossible to clean the 55-gallon drums if you decide to store your old DEF in those.

According to NoxGuard, you just dispose of the containers in the normal trash pick-up manner. It is a non-toxic, non-hazardous material so there is nothing wrong with disposing of those containers in this manner.

However, if the DEF tanks or drums have been contaminated with a toxic and hazardous liquid or chemical, then contact your local hazardous waste material recycling center and ask them.

Every state may have different regulations on this disposal option. DEF is one of those fluids that fall through the cracks and no one pays any attention to it.

Some Final Words

Disposing of DEF is not going to be that hard. If it is pure, then you have plenty of normal options available to you. The key would be to not put too much of it in one spot and do not use a metal container if you can help it.

But if it is contaminated, then follow the rules for the liquid that is doing the contaminating. There are no real rules for disposing of DEF so make sure you know how to dispose of those hazardous or toxic materials when it does contaminate your DEF.

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