Fire Prevention Tips: Proper Storage & Disposal of Oily/Flammable Rags.

We are staining the fence that we built last year & I am cleaning my brushes with varsol & rags. Rags, covered in oils, wood finishes or flammable substances, have led to house & garage fires, so I am taking extra precautions. The following information may prove helpful when it comes to fire prevention.

When cleaning-up, do NOT throw oil, paint or stain covered rags in a pile on the floor or in the garbage. These rags, if bunched or piled on top of each other, can produce heat & spontaneously combust (catch on fire -  no matches or lighters required). The consequences can be tragic.

When cleaning-up after a fix-it or home reno project, always hang dirty/oily rags in a well ventilated area (away from furnaces & other heat sources). Hang them in a single layer (not over lapping each other). It is important to allow heat to dissipate & for the volatiles to evaporate.

An oily rag has cured when it becomes hard and brittle. The time it takes to cure will depend on humidity, temperature, and the finish. After rags have cured, a temporary measure would be to store them in a metal can.

In addition to the above information, NEVER use plastic or glass containers for storing flammable liquids or rags. NEVER store these items in your basement. NEVER smoke when handling these items. NEVER dispose of flammable rags in the garbage or flammable liquid wastes down sinks or drains.

To protect yourself & the environment, dispose of these flammable items through proper hazardous waste collection. Check this site for more information:

The City of Calgary accepts household hazardous waste at specific local fire stations. Check their site for information on residential hazardous waste storage & disposal: . Ask your local fire station if they offer this service.

This link connects you to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety. Check it out for more information about safe handling of flammable substances at the workplace:

Prevent spontaneous combustion & deadly fires. Do a quick audit of your garage, basement, storage shed &/or workplace to ensure that there isn’t a fire waiting to happen. Follow safe storage, house-keeping & disposal practices when dealing with oily rags & other flammable substances. Keep yourself, your family & your co-workers safe.