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Contaminated Rags &Towels Disposal Guideline (Cloth &Paper)


This guideline provides collection, storage and disposal information for contaminated rags and towels (cloth & paper). Contaminated rags and towels can be classified as either hazardous waste or non-hazardous waste, based on the contaminated materials.

Rags and Towels - Hazardous Waste

Rags and towels that are contaminated with solvents such as paint thinners, acetone, alcohols, etc, must be collected and disposed of as hazardous waste. For situations where the liquid cleaner/solvent component on the rag is unknown, a material safety data sheet (MSDS) should be reviewed to determine if the component is hazardous.

  • Collection: Rags and towels contaminated with solvents must be stored in a hazardous waste labeled safety non-combustible can, and remain closed
  • Disposal: Contact a licensed waste vendor for the disposal of contaminated rags.

Rags and Towels - Non-Hazardous Waste

Rags and towels contaminated with non-hazardous materials, such as latex paints, and are not contaminated with hazardous materials may be disposed of in the regular trash.

Used Oil Rags, Towels and Absorbents

Rags, towels and absorbent that are contaminated with oil or used for an oil spill cleanup must be collected, and disposed of as used oil debris. The container must be properly labeled as “used oil” while in storage and the contents disposed with licensed waste vendor.

  • Collection: Rags, Towels (cloth and paper), and debris contaminated with oil must be storage in drums or red safety cans. These containers must be labeled as Used Oil and remain closed. Secondary containment is necessary when liquid is present in the container.
  • Disposal: Contact a licensed waste vendor for the disposal of contaminated rags.