Shop Towels


Shop towels (rags) may or may not be a hazardous waste depending on how they are used. If rags are used with hazardous solvents, the used rags potentially become a hazardous waste. The recommended way to deal with rags is to use an industrial rag service/laundry. If a rag service is not used, then you must determine that your rags are not hazardous before putting them in your trash.

  • keep soiled shop towels in a closed container that is clearly marked "CONTAMINATED SHOP TOWELS ONLY"
  • use less hazardous cleaning solvents (i.e., ones without chlorinated compounds), whenever possible
  • set up a control system to limit rag use.
  • use disposable paper towels, wipes, or rags if the materials are expected to come in contact with a hazardous waste
  • throw dirty wipes or rags into your trash dumpster if they have come in contact with a hazardous waste
  • saturate rags
  • dispose of solvents by pouring them into containers of used shop towels

For more information concerning the proper handling of shop towels, contact the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Solid and Hazardous Waste ( or the Hinkley Center for Solid and Hazardous Waste Management ( This information is offered only as guidance. Specific requirements may vary with individual processes and/or businesses.