Home Improvement Tip – How to Get Rid of Oily Rags

Finishing a home project can be a rewarding feeling. However, the cleanup can be extra work and time-consuming. If your project required you to use flammable materials such as some oil-based paints and wood stains, you may have a pile of oily rags on your hands. What’s the best way to dispose of them? In this article, we’ll explain how.

How to Get Rid of Oily Rags
Source: http://www.wastedisposalcosts.co.uk/hazardous-waste/oily-rags/

Dangers of oily rags and other combustible materials

There’s a very good reason why you shouldn’t leave oily rags piled around your home or garage. In addition to the health hazards of coming in contact with the harsh chemicals, oily rags can be a serious fire hazard. All it takes is a spark or uncontrolled chemical reaction to start a spontaneous combustion fire, which could destroy your home and put your family in danger.

Why are oily rags so flammable? The combination of the chemicals and layers of fabric can trap heat and have a low ignition point. So a pile of rags is easier to set on fire than normal objects. This isn’t as rare of an occurrence as you may think. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), spontaneous combustion causes an estimated 14,070 fires each year.

The Dos and Don’ts of throwing away oily rags

Rags with flammable chemicals on them shouldn’t be disposed of like regular trash. Here are some important guidelines to follow to ensure you deal with the materials safely.


  • Store soiled rags in a metal can, filled with water, with a tight-fitting lid
  • Drop off the container at a hazardous waste disposal center
  • You can also contact your municipality and ask about special garbage pickup dates service or hazardous waste days


  • Pour oily water down the drain
  • Try to wash and reuse the rags


  • Allow the wet rags to dry out by allowing them to lay or hang in a single layer outdoors, in a well-ventilated area
  • Wait two days or more for the rags to fully dry
  • Follow the directions for the special garbage pickup or hazardous water center


  • Try to dry out your rags indoors
  • Place the rags to dry on a flammable surface such as a wooden deck – instead, place on concrete or bare soil

By following these tips and being cautious, you can properly dispose of your oily rags and consider your project officially complete.

At Pratt Plumbing, we want all of our clients to be safe and happy in their homes. If you should ever encounter a plumbing issue, contact us right away. We offer free estimates and fast service for all your plumbing needs. Call us today at (806) 373-7866.

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