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Are Your Towels in Danger of Spontaneous Combustion?

February 19 2019
spontanous combustion towels

RestaurantsHotelsLaundromatsHouseholds. All have fallen victim to spontaneous combustion caused by towels.

Read on to find out more about this all-too-common occurrence, how it happens, and how you can protect your business better.

What is Spontaneous Combustion?

Spontaneous combustion is a phenomenon that occurs when a combustible material rises in temperature and reaches an ignition point through rapid oxidation.

Like every type of fire, spontaneous combustion needs these three elements to take place:

– Heat

– Fuel

– Oxygen

When fuel (a combustible substance like oil or grease in a flammable material like towels) comes into contact with oxygen in the air (oxidation), heat is generated. When this rise in temperature is not halted, the combustible material i.e. the towel eventually reaches its ignition point. This causes it to burst into flames. From a distance, this scenario seems to require special conditions to take place; in fact, it really does not take more than a pile of used, greasy towels, rags, wipers, etc., to randomly burst into flames and endanger lives and property.

What Causes Towels to Spontaneously Combust?

Towels and rags, when clean and uncontaminated, do not necessarily pose any risk of spontaneous combustion. Exposure to oily substances, e.g. grease from auto repair shops, massage oils, cooking oils, etc., turns these everyday items into massive fire hazards. Here’s how:

Improper Storage and/or Disposal

Spontaneous combustion occurs as the result of a chemical reaction of flammable substances with oxygen, which exists abundantly in the air, making the conditions for combustion rather easy to achieve. A stockpile of oily towels in a room with poor ventilation increases the likelihood of fuel reaching its burning point and bursting into flames.

Improper Washing

Oil is notoriously difficult to wash off any fabric. Any residue of oil on used towels after washing becomes a fire hazard, and placing them in a heated dryer only makes the conditions for spontaneous combustion worse, running the risk of the towels and rags bursting into flames inside the dryer itself or in storage.   

How to Prevent Spontaneous Combustion of Towels and Other Linens

The good news is, spontaneous combustion of towels and other linens is totally preventable. Here are some ways you can protect your place of business from this phenomenon:

Store Used, Oily Towels and Fabrics in a Cool, Dry Place

Avoid storing the towels in hot rooms with poor ventilation.

Dispose of Greasy Towels in Airtight Containers

Prevent oxidation by storing towels in vacuum containers. It could also help to soak used towels and linens in water before storing them in containers to help slow down the rapid temperature increase.

Get Professional Laundry Service for Oily Towels and Fabrics

Have your towels serviced by professionals who have the know-how on the proper handling and washing of towels? The right commercial laundry service provider should not only provide you with the right storage implements to safely store these risky materials; they also have it in their capacity to thoroughly and properly wash off any residue of flammable substances from your fabrics and make sure that you are not running the risk of storing oily towels that can spontaneously combust and cause damage to your business.

Let Sparkle Uniform and Linen Service Take Care of Your Towels!

We have all the necessary technology to ensure that your business is safe and protected against the dangers of spontaneous combustion in towels. Contact us today at 661-634-1130 to learn more about how we can help you and your business.

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