Paints & Coatings Resource Center

Ask the Expert Question-and-Answer Archive

by Ron Joseph

June, 2008

Washing Shop Rags

Q: We have Cintas take care of our shop rags. I wonder if there is any regulations on washing our own shop rags. The rags are used and contain mostly Acetone and Alcohol. We usually turn in about 450-500 rags per week.

A: Thanks for your email. Depending on the state in which your company is located you might need to get an air permit to wash your own rags. Bear in mind that you will be emitting a significant volume of alcohol into the air. Although acetone is an exempt compound and your local air pollution agency might not be concerned with its emissions, alcohol is a VOC and will be counted. Therefore, you will most likely need to keep records, and perhaps might even need to abate the VOCs if your total annual tonnage of emissions is high enough. Again this is based on where your company is located.

RCRA regulations might also apply, but this is not my field and you should speak to an environmental consultant.

Presumably, you will need to dispose the contaminated water from the washing machines, and water disposal regulations might specify the maximum level of contaminants you can send to the storm water drain. Your municipal regulatory representative should be consulted on this issue.

Since both acetone and alcohol are flammable, you will undoubtedly need to get a fire permit and might need to design the washing equipment according to OSHA and/or NFPA guidelines.

There might be other regulations of which I'm not immediately aware, but at the very least, you should check on air pollution, RCRA (hazardous waster), water and fire regulations in your local area.

This sounds like a complex project.

Good luck,

Ron Joseph

What's New | About PCRC | Compliance Assistance | Regulations | Technical Info | News | Homeowners | Search | Disclaimer | Home

©2012 Paints and Coatings Resource Center