Why oily rags are dangerous

Mar 17, 2022Article

Why oily rags are dangerous

Mar 17, 2022Article

Despite numerous warnings from the fire brigade and environment agencies many people in the UK are still unaware of the risk of improperly storing and disposing of oily rags.

Rags that are used in garages, furniture makers, building sites and even in the home can all cause harm to property, person and the environment.

Why are they dangerous?

Oily rags are a fire risk if not stored correctly. As they dry, the liquids on them evaporate which causes a chemical reaction, called oxidisation, making them heat up. This means that the rags can spontaneously combust, without any spark or heat source.

How should oily rags be stored?

Ideally, used oily rags should be immersed in water in a metal container which can then be sealed. Old paint cans are ideal.

If this is not possible, then they should be laid outside after use, on the ground away from furniture or buildings or other flammable objects, until they have completely dried out. Note: Rags should be laid out on pathways or concreate, not on grass, flowerbeds or soil where the chemicals in them can leach into the ground.

How should oily rags be disposed of?

There isn’t an effective way of washing and re-using oily rags. As they are a fire risk and contain dangerous chemicals that can harm the environment they are considered hazardous waste. This means that they must be disposed of though a waste carrier that is licensed to take hazardous waste.

Failure to dispose of oily rags properly can result in fines and even prosecution for individuals and businesses.

At Twinwoods Heat and Power oily rags can be disposed of in a safe way, by processing them through our licensed biomass plant. This turns hazardous waste into clean, green electricity.

Find out more about how Twinwoods can help you dispose of oily rags and avoid a fine.