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Safety Check: Storing Paint, Brushes, and Oily Rags

Safety Check: Storing Paint, Brushes, and Oily Rags

Oil based paints, stains, and varnishes are often used for home improvement projects. It is not uncommon to use rags to wipe spills or clean brushes. But, did you know wet rags can ignite on their own? They can start a fire if not handled carefully. The same is true for the liquids themselves.

How can oily rags and liquids start a fire?

Oils commonly used in oil-based paints and stains release heat as they dry. If the heat is not released into the air, it builds up and cause a fire. That is why a pile of oily rags can be dangerous. Likewise, vapors from flammable and combustible liquids can ignite – causing a fire.

Safety Tips:
  • Never leave cleaning rags in a pile.
  • Hang rags outside or spread them on the ground, away from structures, weighted down so they don’t blow away.
  • Store dried rags in a metal container, filled with water and detergent to break down the oils. Make sure the container is covered with a tight-fitting lid.
  • Keep containers of oily rags in a cool place. Keep out of direct sunlight and away from other heat sources.
  • Do not use or store flammable or combustible liquids near an open flame, or smoke around these items.
  • Keep liquids in their original containers with the lid tightly sealed. Never store in glass containers.