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Motor Oil

Medium Risk

Also known as:

Castrol™ Champion Brands® Havoline® Mobile 1™ Pennzoil® Quaker State® Shell Rotela® Valvoline®

Motor oil being poured into a car's oil canister with a wrench besides it.
Possible Symptoms
  • Mouth irritation
  • Stomach irritation
  • Cough/gag
  • Skin irritation
  • Eye irritation
What to Do
  1. Wipe or rinse out mouth.
  2. Give a serving size of water to drink.
  3. Rinse any exposed skin with lukewarm water.
  4. Call 1-800-222-1222 for additional instructions
If Exposed to Eyes

If someone gets motor oil in the eye there can be immediate burning and stinging which requires prompt first aid to avoid an eye injury.

  1. Start rinsing eye(s) with lukewarm water.
  2. Because this is an oil, we advise prolonged irrigation with lukewarm water for up to 10 minutes.

Call the Missouri Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 for further recommendations.


Aspiration can occur while vomiting, so it is important to never induce vomiting, especially in someone who has swallowed motor oil.

Additional Information

Callers to the poison center ask what to do if someone accidentally swallows motor oil.

Motor oil is a hydrocarbon that helps keep engines running smoothly. Other types of hydrocarbons include gasoline, kerosene, lighter fluid, mineral spirits, and tiki torch oil. When someone swallows motor oil, it can upset the stomach and may have a laxative-like effect. Possibly causing loose stools and diarrhea. Sometimes the person may cough, gag, and choke because the vapor surrounding the oil tickles the back of the throat. This can be dangerous because motor oil is thin and slippery, so it can quickly move down the throat and into the airway or lungs. This is called aspiration. Once in the airways, it can spread out and go deep into the lungs leading to irritation and damage to the delicate tissue. Some individuals may develop a bacterial infection or chemical pneumonia.  

Aspiration can occur while vomiting so it is important to never induce vomiting, especially in someone who has swallowed motor oil.

What happens if used motor oil is swallowed? 

Motor oil is exposed to high heat in a running motor and gets contaminated with dirt, chemicals, and heavy metals. While used oil is potentially more toxic, a one-time accidental swallow has similar effects to swallowing new oil because the amount ingested is typically small.  

Remember to properly dispose of used oil. If it is poured down the drain, it contaminates both drinking and groundwater.  For proper disposal information please check out:  Used Oil | Missouri Department of Natural Resources (

What if it gets on the skin? 

If someone gets this substance on their skin, quickly wash it with soap and water. The longer the oil stays on the skin, the more chance there is for redness, irritation, and swelling to occur. If there is any dryness noted after thoroughly washing the exposed area, apply a fragrance-free hand/body lotion to soothe the area. 

Learn more about other safety tips when working with car maintenance chemicals on our website.

If you find someone has drank motor oil, do not panic. Take it away from them, wipe out the mouth with a soft, wet cloth and give them some water to drink. If problems start or you have questions, call the Missouri Poison Center right away at 1-800-222-1222 especially if the person is coughing or gagging. The poison center is open all day, every day for poisoning emergencies and questions.

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