HWTR Dangerous Materials

My Watershed

Used Shop Towels

Used Shop Towels can be dangerous waste.  Contaminated disposable towels must be handled under all applicable waste regulations.  If contaminated cloth towels are disposed of, they must usually be handled as dangerous waste. 

However, durable shop towels can be recycled through an industrial laundry, even if they would designate, or be legally identified, as dangerous waste.  If these shop towels are handled correctly,  they will not be counted toward dangerous waste totals nor affect generator status.

If improperly managed, used shop towels contaminated with hazardous substances can pose a threat to worker health and public safety. Improper management may contribute to contamination of air, water, and soil.

Remember, keep lids on shop towel containers, except when adding or removing materials. 

Best Management Practices for Shop Towels  If your soiled towels are handled according to the shop towel best management practices they are not subject to generator, transporter, and permitted treatment, storage, and disposal facility requirements of the Dangerous Waste Regulations and are not "counted" as a dangerous waste.

Waste Specific Labels contains a printable label for Contaminated Shop Towels.

Best Management Practices for Commercial Laundries of Shop Towels offers information for shop towel recyclers.

Related information

Solvents addresses handling and best practices for solvent safety

Focus on: Used Shop Towels is an Ecology publication that discusses the Best Management Practices for generators and recyclers.