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Tips for Preventing House Fires: Properly Dispose of Oily Rags After Use

A big, and yet often preventable, cause of fires in the home is oil-soaked rags.  Summer is a great time for home improvement projects, particularly those that need to be done outdoors.  One project that is sometimes taken on by the homeowner is staining a deck, porch or outdoor railing.  The oil-based stain soaks through the rags.  When not properly disposed of or stored, exposure to the heat outdoors and trapped oxygen can cause these oily rags to ignite.

Oil-Soaked Rags Exposed to Heat and Trapped Oxygen Can Ignite

When soaked with oil-based stain from home improvements projects, rags can actually ignite resulting in a significant fire.  As the material on the rag dries, it produces heat.  If the rags are in a pile with air trapped at the bottom of the pile, the heat and oxygen combined with the oil can quickly start a fire.  When these oily rags are placed to a home or other building and ignite, the damage caused can be extensive.

What to Do with Oil-Soaked Rags After Use

Many stains that you would use for home improvement projects will offer recommendations, direct from the manufacturer, for the best way to dispose of used rags.  Following these instructions can also ensure that the material is properly disposed of, reducing the chance of a fire. Follow the manufacturers instructions above all.

Common advice includes some of the following: Used rags should never be stored in a pile or in the sun.  This can trap oxygen, causing them to ignite as they heat up.  Instead these used rags should be spread flat in a safe place to dry, such as a garage floor or driveway, which are non-combustible surfaces. Make sure they are not in the sun.  You can then dispose of them as your city regulations require.  As an alternative, the oil rags can be stored in an air-tight metal container that is non-combustible.  Fill the container with a mixture of an oil breakdown detergent and water before placing the rags in it.  This is a good storage solution if you plan to reuse them again for the project. 

Taking care when using this type of material and properly disposing of your materials can go a long way to reducing your home’s risk of a fire

If a fire or other disaster does happen, the restoration professionals at Soil-Away have you covered.  Contact the Soil-Away team 603-641-6555.

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Jay KorsenJay Korsen
00:51 04 Aug 22
All I have to say is WOW and FANTASTIC. I just got done building out my new professional office with Soil-Away’s construction division and they went ABOVE and BEYOND. Scott and Mike, the carpenters are skilled artisans. The project got done on time and the project came in on budget! The finished results have been blowing people away. Much better than I could have anticipated. Anyone is welcome to come to our office, Bright Light Chiropractic in Hooksett to check out the fine work they did. Simply can’t sing enough praises for them. Sorry that the picture doesn’t do the job justice. Thank you Jack and your team. -Dr. Jay
Asian BreezeAsian Breeze
04:28 15 Jul 22
Since day one, I’ve known the owner, Jack, to be a hard-working and selfless leader. Through the efforts of him and his team, he was able to restore my flooded restaurant to tip-top shape. I was amazed with Jack’s orderliness throughout the entire process. Jack has proven to me that he is trustworthy, as both a friend and an individual in the work environment.
Breton LangendorferBreton Langendorfer
21:17 07 Jul 22
Highly recommend Soil-Away. A pipe in our upstairs bathroom gave and sent water down through a wall for at least a day before we noticed water dripping through our kitchen ceiling. Our insurance put us in touch with Soil-Away and they were at our house the next morning to assess the damage and dry things out. Joe, Ray and Tom were phenomenal to work with. They explained every part of the process to us and were very professional and friendly. If you have to deal with similar issues call Soil-Away, you won’t regret it.
Maureen CidzikMaureen Cidzik
13:49 15 May 22
Superior service from start to finish. Highly responsive. The entire team is dedicated to quality and customer care and it shows in everything they do – from first call, to estimate, to job completion.
Sarah GrugnaleSarah Grugnale
16:02 14 Jan 22
Joe and Tommy were amazing to deal with, they kept us updated every step of the process. They were punctual and hard working, answering all of our questions that we had. Everything was done as promised and even above and beyond. A great experience from start to finish.