Cleaning Oil Solvent Rags

Safely Disposing of Solvent Rags

Depending on the industry, a lot of companies find themselves needing to use solvents and oils for their business procedures. Solvents can be very effective in a lot of different practices; for example printing ink or removing paint from surfaces.

When handling products such as different types of oils and solvents, it is important that the rags involved in these processes are taken care of and disposed of correctly. Failing to meet the standards of handing solvent or oil rag disposal can be detrimental, and can have serious repercussions for a business. 

After finishing using these rags, it is important to note that some types of solvents and oils are labelled as flammable, meaning the rags themselves can also be ignited. Heat can build up within a pile rags and then oxidize in the open where fires can then happen. Spontaneous combustion because of lack of proper care of used rags is not uncommon, and companies face both health and safety risks, and fees associated with recovering the damages.

There are a lot of safety precautions that must be taken into consideration within a workplace handling these types of rags. For example having on hand fire extinguishing equipment and placing smoke detectors in the areas in which the flammable materials are being used. 

How to Dispose of Rags

When handling oil or solvent-soaked rags, there are certain steps that need to be put in place to make sure that any chance of risk is minimized. A best practice to dispose of an oil soaked rag is to place the object in an airtight self-closing metal container. By doing this, the oxidization process is contained within a closed space, and any chance of a chemical reaction being caused is prevented. 

You can also fill the metal containers with water and submerge the rags. After this, you can take the metal container to a local hazardous waste disposal facility. It is important to note however, that you should never pour the oily water from the metal container down the drain. This is because petroleum products can cause irreversible damage on ecosystems if they reach groundwater supplies.

How to Reuse Rags

As an alternative to solvent and oil rag disposal, is cleaning and re-use. Similarly to disposing of them, it is still necessary to submerge the rag itself within water and to let it soak after sealing off the lid. After you have completely soaked it, the process of letting the rag dry can then begin. When looking for a surface to dry the rag on, make sure it is one that is non-combustible, such as concrete.

Once a surface has been selected, make sure the area is also well ventilated, since this will help with off-setting the oxidization of the oil or solvent material. Once both these criteria are met, let the rag dry for a minimum of two days, and continue to do so until they not only feel dry, but also no longer have a strong scent of oil or solvent. After this, the rag should be good for reuse on another solvent or oil. 

Learn More

Understanding how to properly dispose of flammable clean-up materials is a fundamental health and safety practice for businesses that handle those types of materials. Lack of due diligence when handling these materials can be dangerous and costly.

Disposing of used rags is simple, and quick and convenient. Not much is required aside from using metal containers, or any sort of container that is nonflammable and can prevent oxygen from entering. At end of use, a local hazardous waste disposal centre can take care of a container of used oil / solvent rags, or rags can be cleaned and re-used onsite.

Having proper fire safety equipment is also needed. This includes fire extinguishing equipment, smoke detectors, and training for how employees can handle these situations.

Maratek Environmental’s team specializes in recycling and disposing of solvent waste. We provide solutions for industries that are customized to our customers. Get in touch with our team today to answer any question you have about solvent recycling and hazardous waste disposal.