Workshop Tips #1: Safety Note - Oily Rags

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Blog entry by DonFaulk0517 posted 11-30-2008 11:16 PM 4816 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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Oily Rag Safety Tip

Most people know that spontaneous combustion can occur when oily rags are left in a bunch or thrown together in a trash can. A friend of mine didn’t realize this and had a small fire in his basement shop. Based on this, I thought it would be a good idea to pass along a tip that is easy to use and can prevent this from occurring to others.

I use oil for finishing and use a simple device that takes away the worry of spontaneous combustion. I drape my rags and brushes on a standard drying rack that is commonly used for drying fine linens and sweaters. By draping the rags on the many available rungs of the rack I prevent them from contacting each other and themselves, thus preventing spontaneous combustion. Drying racks are made of wood or metal and fold up to a compact size. Mine is a wood rack with plastic sleeves on the dry rack to prevent materials sticking to the wood. The ability to have a compact drying rack available instantly makes me use it each and every time. I hang mine on a wall in my shop ready for instant use!

Attached is a picture of my drying rack where I have “put it to use” in my garage shop, a picture of an empty rack, and a picture of the empty rack being folded.

Oily Rag Drying Rack - In Use

Oily Rag Drying Rack - Empty

Oily Rag Drying Rack - Folded

I hope this quick, easy, and cheap method is useful to some of you and that this small effort will prevent disaster from striking… like it did my friend.


-- [email protected]

5 comments so far

View mmh's profile


3677 posts in 4177 days

#1 posted 12-01-2008 03:05 AM

Thanks for the important reminder. It’s so easy to just toss an oil soaked rag into the trash and forget about it. When ever I do finishing I line a small bucket with a plastic grocery bag with about a cup of water in it and place this next to my project so I can just toss the rags into the water. When I’m done, all the rags are soaked with H20 then I can take the bag outside and leave it open to air out and the oil solidifies. This way it doesn’t smell up the house so much and I can tie & toss the bag into the trash.

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 4340 days

#2 posted 12-01-2008 06:48 AM

I lay them out on the concrete floor to dry and trash the when they are dry, usually the next day.

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View Woodn88s's profile


82 posts in 3996 days

#3 posted 12-04-2008 12:28 PM

I keep an old plastic cat litter bucket filled about a third with water. I throw the rags in there.

-- I want to know Gods are details "A. Einstein"

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 4329 days

#4 posted 12-04-2008 03:21 PM

When I use paper towels I put them in a zip lick bag and add some water, then discard.

View GaryCN's profile


410 posts in 4389 days

#5 posted 12-09-2008 07:15 AM

A good Oily Waste Can like the one in my shop photo
is a good idea. About $50 but I’d rather be safe than
It’s easy to toss this stuff in regular trash and forget about it.

-- Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati

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