How to Dispose of Mineral Spirits Rags (the safe way)

Mineral spirit is a highly flammable substance. You will most likely have to use a rag to apply that on furniture, cabinets, flooring, etc., in your home.

So, the rags themselves will also be flammable because they contain mineral spirit on them. Therefore, you must dispose of them properly.

This way, you’ll ensure that you don’t put other human and animal lives at risk. Proper disposal will also pose less of a risk to the environment.

This guide will explain how to dispose of mineral spirits rags.

Disposing Mineral Spirits Rags

Here are the steps you can use to dispose of mineral spirit rags

Step 1. Understand the Danger Mineral Spirits Rags Pose

You can put your own home in great danger if you don’t dispose of mineral spirits rags properly.

Avoid tossing the oily rags into the trash at all costs.

Mineral Spirits Rags Can Cause Spontaneous Combustion

There have been several cases in which mineral spirits rags can cause spontaneous combustion.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has disclosed that 1700 homes experience fire every year due to spontaneous combustion.  

Out of the 1700 cases, oily rags caused 900 of them.

Therefore, utmost precaution is necessary. Spontaneous combustion is especially dangerous because it does not require external heat sources, wind, or light.

Spontaneous combustion can burn your entire house down if you don’t extinguish it correctly.

It can also pose a risk to sanitation workers dealing with your garbage.

Step 2. Collect the Necessary Material for the Disposal Process

You should have all of your materials ready for the disposal process beforehand.

It ensures that you can work without any interruptions. Here are the materials you will need.

  • A large metal container with a lid
  • A bucket of water for filling the metal container
  • Any kind of weight, such as a stone

Step 3. Contact Your Local Hazardous Waste Disposal Facility

Contact your local hazardous waste disposal facility and ask them about any specific disposal guidelines according to city and state laws.

You should always follow the guidelines as provided.

You can end up paying the penalty if you don’t dispose of hazardous waste properly.

If the case is serious, you may even end up dealing with spending time in the court and money on an attorney. Save yourself from all that with proper disposal.

Schedule a Pick-Up or Drop-Off Appointment with the Hazardous Waste Disposal Facility

Schedule a pick-up appointment with the hazardous waste disposal facility before preparing the rags.

If the facility does not have a pick-up option, schedule a or drop-off appointment instead.

Make sure that the disposal facility accepts mineral spirits rags. You don’t want to take the material to the facility m and learn it does not accept rags for disposal.

A phone call will save you time and effort.

Step 4. Prepare the Mineral Spirits Rags for Safe Transportation

You must prepare the mineral spirits rags to transport them safely without the risk of spontaneous combustion.

For the metal container, you can use an old paint can instead of buying a container.

Wear Appropriate Attire Before Starting  

Put on a pair of gloves when dealing with mineral spirits to prevent them from getting onto your hands.

Make sure to also wear clothes you don’t plan to wear again. This way, you won’t have to worry if some mineral spirit gets onto your clothes.

Step 5. Place the Mineral Spirit Rags into the Metal Container

Start the process by placing the mineral spirit rags. You can use a pair of tongs for holding the rags if you don’t want to use your hands.

Make sure to double-check if the lid closely tightly on the metal container.

Step 6. Fill the Metal Container with Water

Pour the water from the bucket into the metal container with mineral spirit rags.

Make sure that there is enough water in the can for the rags to fully submerge.

If the rags cannot be submerged completely in the container, use a second container.

Step 7. Place a Weight onto the Rags and Seal the Container

Once there is enough water in the metal container, place a stone or other weight over the rags. This step will ensure that the mineral spirits rags stay submerged during transportation.

Don’t be afraid to add more than one weight to keep all of the rags under water.

The rags can be extremely dangerous if you do not submerge them in water at all times. Spontaneous combustion can occur.

Inspect the Sealed Container for Leaks

Seal the container with the lid after securing the rags.

Wipe the metal container once after sealing it, and inspect it for leaks. Change the container immediately if the lid allows liquid to escape.

Step 8. Hand Over the Container with the Rags to Your Local Hazardous Waste Disposal Facility

The metal container with the mineral spirit rags is safe to hand over to the local hazardous waste disposal facility.

Even if the disposal facility in your vicinity does not provide pick-up services, you can transport the container without worry.

Keep the container upright throughout the transportation. The weight may lose its place if you turn it over.

As a result, the rags may no longer be submerged.

Reiterate What Is in the Containers to the Disposal Workers

Make sure to let the people handling the container know what is present in them.

The disposal personnel will most likely already have this information but reiterating it can ensure that they handle it carefully.

You should also let the hazardous waste disposal personnel which side is up.

As a result, they can keep the containers from potential spontaneous combustion.  

Also read: How to Dispose of Stain Rags?

An Alternate Mineral Spirits Rags Disposal Method

The disposal method mentioned above is quick and simple.

It takes 2 minutes to prepare, and the local hazardous waste disposal facility takes care of the rest.

However, there is another method that you can handle by yourself entirely.

Drying the Mineral Spirits Rags

This method requires drying out mineral spirits rags completely. It requires only about five minutes of work on your part.

However, the drying process can take two days or more, depending on the weather.

Step 1. Lay Out the Mineral Spirit Rags to Dry

Pick a spot in your home that is open, secluded, well-ventilated, and out of the sun. You should lay out each rag on a surface in that space of your house.

Make sure the rags have no folds, allowing them to dry faster.

It’s vital that you place the mineral spirits rags on a non-combustible surface. Best surfaces include concrete or bare soil.

However, make sure not to use the soil in your yard. It may soak some of the oil and ruin it. If you’re using soil, gather some and place them on another surface.

At the same time, make sure that pets and children do not have access to the room where the rags are drying.

The correct room and the appropriate surface are essential for preventing spontaneous combustion.

Step 2. Give the Mineral Spirits Rags Dry

It’s best to give the mineral spirit rags at least two whole days to dry. Forty-eight hours should be enough, but some rags may take longer to dry.

The time it takes to dry will depend on the type of mineral spirit, rag material, the amount of spirit on the rag, and the conditions in the room.

Inspect the mineral spirit rags after the drying period. If any part of the rags looks or feels wet, let it sit for longer.

Step 3. Contact Your Local Your Local Hazardous Waste Disposal Facility

You should not throw mineral spirit rags in the trash even if they are dry.

Therefore, you should get in touch with your local hazardous waste disposal facility and arrange for a pick-up or drop-off.

The only difference with this process is that you won’t have to put it in a container filled with water.

Things to Keep in Mind When Disposing of Mineral Spirits Rags

Disposing of mineral spirit rags can dangerous if you don’t take appropriate safety measures.

Therefore, you should keep the following in mind.

Do Not Throw Water Mixed with Mineral Spirits in the Drain or Near Your House

When you submerge mineral spirits rags in water, the water mixes with the spirit. Therefore, that mixture can be highly flammable and dangerous.

That is why you should avoid throwing that mixture down the drain, near your home, or near anyone else’s home.

Do Not Reuse or Recycle Mineral Spirit Rags

Avoid washing and reusing mineral spirit rags. You will cause the oil to go down the drain, which can cause problems to wildlife and the environment.

Moreover, mineral spirits are highly toxic.

Therefore, the toxicity will remain in the water treatment system and your washing machine. It can be highly dangerous.

Last Few Words

Always consult your local hazardous waste disposal facility when disposing of mineral spirits rags and other oily rags.

The risk is too high to simply dispose of them in the trash.

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