Best Practices

Launderers’ Best Practices for Shop Towel Safety

All launderers should develop and implement policies and procedures that address processing, use, and handling of soiled shop towels. These policies and procedures should include the chemicals and other contaminants that launderers anticipate will be on the soiled textiles that they receive from the specific customers they service.

General Practices Around Soiled Shop Towels
  • Employees must wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), gloves and safety glasses, whenever handling soiled shop towels.  Slip resistant shoes are also recommended.
  • No smoking or open flames should be allowed around soiled shop towels.
  • Practice appropriate personal hygiene. After handling soiled shop towels employees should wash their hands and face prior to eating, drinking, smoking or performing any other activity which could involve hand to face contact.
  • Soiled shop towels should be kept separate from all other goods.
Representative Pick-Up of Soiled Shop Towels at Customer Sites
  • Soiled shop towels containing free liquids should not be accepted from the customer.
  • Ensure vehicle ventilation during transportation of soiled shop towels.
  • Shop towels should be weighed before processing.
  • Soiled shop towels should not be stored indoors overnight. If indoor storage cannot be avoided, secure soiled shop towels in a self-closing flammable material storage container.
  • Soiled shop towels should be processed separate from any other goods.
  • Wash chemicals should only be used from a wash chemical vendor who is familiar with laundering shop towels.
  • The fire hazards associated with certain customers such as printing companies or furniture customers must be evaluated and the appropriate fire suppressant equipment installed.  Electrical equipment must be rated for the appropriate hazards.
  • Wash formula should be followed accurately.
  • Dryer formulas for shop towels must dry the towels without over drying.
  • Dryer formulas should include a cool down period sufficient to bring the towels down to 110oF before the towels are emptied from the dryer.
  • Work with your chemical vendor to develop a QA/QC plan to assure shop towels are adequately cleaned before they are dried, sorted or stored.
  • Customers should develop and follow a safety and health plan for the chemicals to which their employees are exposed.
  • If shop towels are soiled with flammable materials, they should be stored in flame resistant containers with self-closing lids.
  • Customers should use only low VOC solvents.