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October 30, 2011 3:50 PM   Subscribe

How do I (a DIY'er, not professional) properly dispose of stain soaked rags (in Indiana)?

Have read we can spread the rags out and cure or put in a metal container and soak in water but I'd like to hear from those in the Hive that have experience w this. Thanks in advance!
posted by xicana63 to Home & Garden (10 answers total)
Take them to a hardware store, and they will tell you how to properly take care of that in your jurisdiction.
posted by hal_c_on at 3:54 PM on October 30, 2011

I usually spread them out to let them dry with good ventilation. Once dry, I believe they can be disposed of with regular trash.

Basically, the drying process creates heat. If the heat is trapped in the rag, it can get hot enough to ignite the rag. (Haystacks can do the same thing, I'm told, if they're not dry -- the composting in the middle heats it up enough that it catches fire.) So, spread the rag out and make sure it's well ventilated as it dries. Plus, the fumes aren't fun, so there's another reason to have good ventilation, there.
posted by rmd1023 at 4:01 PM on October 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Your local fire department may have a household HazMats disposal depot. If not, they can probably direct you to one.
posted by Morrigan at 4:51 PM on October 30, 2011

Where does your trash go? It's useful to know the answer, for a lot of reasons. In my town, trash goes to an incinerator (waste to energy; it produces electricity), so I double-bag oily waste in plastic shopping bags, and put it in the garbage. Oily rags + oxygen = fire. Oily rags + no oxygen = reasonably safe. Actually, now that I have a woodstove, some oily rags become excellent firestarters.
posted by theora55 at 5:39 PM on October 30, 2011

Your county landfill should have a household hazmat shed they can direct you to.
posted by toodleydoodley at 6:57 PM on October 30, 2011

When I lived in Indiana, I put rags outside to dry, and then I put them in the regular trash. However, I don't remember why I used that technique -- maybe it was the "official" technique from the local hazmat folks or maybe I just read it somewhere. I do remember that the official instructions for dealing with empty or nearly-empty paint cans was to let them dry out thoroughly and then put them in the regular trash, which is similar.
posted by ceiba at 8:42 PM on October 30, 2011

If the stain is oil-based, just lay them out until they are dry then dispose of them as you would any ordinary rubbish. There is some risk that they can ignite if they are left bunched up a the solvent evaporates.
posted by dg at 8:44 PM on October 30, 2011

Where does your trash go?
Since we're talking about Indiana, it's a very good bet OP's trash goes into a landfill.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:07 AM on October 31, 2011

If you decide to toss the rags, this page links to a PDF that lists hazardous waste disposal programs in various Indiana counties.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:12 AM on October 31, 2011

It's way too late for the OP, but I thought I'd add this for anyone who finds this.

The oil that gave oily rags a bad name is linseed oil. Linseed oil undergoes oxidational polymerization (as opposed to just becoming rancid like other oils). Just like other flavors of oxidation, this in an exothermic process and, as others have noted, if the rag is all bunched up, it can get hot enough to auto-ignite.

I often finish wood with just linseed oil. My technique for disposing of the oily rags is to take them out to the patio and stick them in the barbecue grill to dry. If they ignite there, so? I've yet to see that happen, however. Typically, by time I next grill, the oil has hardened and the rag can be disposed of as regular trash.

Otherwise, it is typically the solvents and not the pigments in woodworking stains that are the hazardous component. Letting the rag air dry and then disposing of it as regular trash is probably the appropriate approach but that may depend on the brand of stain you are using.

I've had very good luck with the customer service number on the can a number of times, including quelling a bout of handwaving freakouter regarding which horrible heavy metal dryer the Kleen Strip people put in their linseed oil (Answer: none).
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 9:31 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

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