In this work, drilling fluids with 135 400 mg kg −1 of total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH) were washed with six different surfactants (the non-ionic Emulgin 600, Emulgin 1000, Brij 35 and Tween 80, ionic SDS, and zwitterionic Polafix CAPB) and their mixtures. Due to the high Ca content in the samples, three different approaches were employed when washing with SDS, because of its ionic character: a) using mixtures of surfactants, b) addition of NaCl, and c) addition of a Ca sequestrant, i. e., sodium metasilicate. Drilling fluids were washed; TPH, electric conductivity (EC, as an indirect measurement of salinity), and pH values were measured before and after the washing process. Surface tension of the clean and spent washing solutions (surfactant or surfactants mixture, with or without salts) was measured. TPH removals as high as 75% were achieved using SDS + sodium metasilicate. EC values diminished 75% with the washing process, but for the experiments in which salts were added, increments in electric conductivity of up to 367% were observed. Regarding the pH changes, initial sample pH value was 7.77, and in most cases this value was reduced, except for some of the cases where salt was added. Surfactant solution's surface tension changes (before and after the washing process) correlated fairly with TPH removals.