Minnesota Department of Transportation

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Regulated Materials

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Solvent Contaminated Waste Rag/Wipe/Towel Management

This guidance document is prepared by MnDOT personnel and is intended only for use on MnDOT projects, including partnership projects, and MnDOT Maintenance Operations.

MnDOT has prepared this guidance document to provide its internal procedures and requirements for work performed on MnDOT rights of way, including MnDOT-owned facilities.

Any optional procedures will be indicated in the document. Any deviation from procedures contained in this document must be discussed with Regulated Materials Unit personnel prior to implementation.

This document should not be construed as a full description of all regulations pertaining to the subject matter. Contact the Regulated Materials Unit (RMU) in the MnDOT Office of Environmental Stewardship for additional information or legal requirements.


MnDOT uses rags/wipes/towels (rags) and solvents to clean a variety of materials. The purpose of this guidance is to assist in determining appropriate management practices for rags contaminated with solvent and methods that may be used to reduce or eliminate waste.

Low Toxic Solvents

MnDOT is committed to lowering costs, liability, and protecting the environment. This includes lowering expensive disposal costs and liability associated with the use of solvents and rags. Please let your District Safety Administrator (DSA) know if you discover a new low toxicity product or have a need for additional low toxicity products. DSAs will work with RMU personnel to evaluate new products.

  • Order new solvent products through MnDOT inventory.
  • The least toxic paint solvent is mineral spirits.
    • Mineral spirits will be used as the paint solvent.
    • If mineral spirits fail to perform adequately for a specific application, contact your DSA for alternative low toxic solvents. Low toxic alternatives that may be used in place of mineral spirits include acetone or xylene.
  • RMU, in conjunction with MnDOT safety administrators and maintenance personnel, have completed several studies on green solvents. This information is located in the MnDOT Approved Products website.
  • Consider using alternatives to solvents such as soap. Please share your experiences of using products to replace solvents with RMU so that the information can be shared throughout the department. Help us keep costs and liability down while protecting the environment.

Managing Low Toxic (Non-Hazardous) Waste Solvent Contaminated Rags

  • Do not over-saturate rags, use just enough solvent to do the job. The rags should contain no free liquids - meaning solvent should be dripping freely from the rag.
    • If rags get over-saturated, remove as much liquid as possible by wringing out rags prior to disposal. The extracted liquids can be reused or containerized and treated as a hazardous waste.
  • Dispose of waste solvent rags in the trash as solid waste.
  • Recycling Alternative
    • Clean rags through a commercial laundry service for reuse.

Toxic Waste Solvent Contaminated Rags

MnDOT should avoid using the solvents identified below because of the significantly higher cost associated with required hazardous waste management. Rags used with the following solvents must be managed as a hazardous waste: toluene, methyl ethyl ketone (MEK), methylene chloride, tetrachloroethylene, trichloroethylene (TCE), 1,1,1 trichloroethane or F-Listed solvents with the exception of F003. Managing these wastes as hazardous applied to any mixture containing more than 10% of any of these solvents.

Managing Toxic (Hazardous) Waste Solvent Contaminated Rags

Waste rags must be stored in a drum and managed as hazardous waste. Do not mix with used oil rags. Follow hazardous waste handling guidance under the Waste Handling heading.

Reuse Rags

To reduce the volume of waste solvent rags, reuse rags until they are no longer usable.