Sorbents and blue shop towel grime-fighters help keep your workplace clean and dry
Day-to-day work in machine shops can include contact with any number of hazardous materials. When it comes to liquids that often means solvents, coolants, and lubricants. Spilling any of these fluids can present dangers to employees and equipment. Just as bad, you may run the risk of contaminating local water supplies if any wash down the drain.
That’s why quick and efficient spill clean up is a necessity when it comes to running a safe, clean machine shop. Of course, that’s only possible if you have the right absorbent materials on hand. Which demands a heavier duty product than your standard roll of Scott or Kimberly-Clark kitchen paper towels.
Here, we’ll help you discover various multi-purpose sorbents for your workplace. From the ubiquitous blue shop towel and beyond.
If that isn’t confounding enough, products vary depending on the types of liquids you may be dealing with. For instance, you’ll need a different absorbent for coolant than you will for oil.
Besides big spills, you’ll likely have to deal with plenty of smaller everyday grease or drips. That’s when quick cleanup materials like shop wipes, rags, and towels come in handy.
Or, why not make it easy on yourself with spill kits. A kit solution combines different types of sorbents together into one convenient package.
Read up about each type of absorbing product below to figure out which ones best suit your needs. Soon, choosing will be as simple as picking out grocery store paper towels or toilet paper!
Pad and roll sorbents
Roll and pad sorbents typically feature strong polypropylene construction materials. Unlike regular paper towel products, this means they won’t fall apart when wet.
Normally you’ll use pads to deal with smaller spills, and rolls to tackle larger surface area jobs. For instance, rolls are great for lining your workbench to soak up overspray and drips.
Rolls and pads come in several different colors, sizes, shapes, and absorbencies. White designates use for oils like hydraulic fluids, hydrocarbons and diesel fuels. Yellow pads and rolls are purpose made for soaking up hazardous chemical spills, including acids and solvents. Grey is for general purpose use, such as absorbing water and hydrocarbon fluids.
Heavy-duty industrial mats help keep floor areas clean and dry. They can be cut to length and have a non-skid, non-penetrable backing. To help extend service life, the dark gray color is excellent for disguising grime – a bonus for most machine and automotive shops!
Matting can be helpful soaking up motor oil drips under motorized machinery and other large equipment. As well as preventing slips in busy foot traffic areas like factory floors, entry ways and corridors.
Socks and pillows
Polypropylene pillows and socks are soft yet bulky sorbents that quickly soak up larger spills. Both products contain multiple units per pack, with competitive pricing available when you purchase in bulk. A sorbent hand wringer potentially makes your socks and pillows reusable, to help save you money.
Pillows are ideal for squashing into tight corners and spaces beneath machinery or industrial stoves. Likewise, socks come in different lengths so are easy to wrap around shop equipment, or, to create a dike. They come in yellow, white, and grey for chemical, oil, and universal applications.
Looking for a more environmentally friendly line for absorbing spills? Then granular sorbents may be the product for you. Biodegradable materials include peat moss, corn cob, and papermill waste by-product. You can shop granular sorbents in bags, sold by the pallet, or smaller shaker cartons.
Granular sorbents are ideal for routine cleaning maintenance. They even increase floor traction, and help prevent slips, in the process. Simply pour these products over any wet area then sweep up and dispose. This ease of application makes it a popular choice for machine shops as well as general automotive maintenance uses.
These kits include all the basics for spill cleanup in one convenient container. Choose whatever size kit and contents that best fits your shop’s needs. For instance, a small portable bucket, up to large cart kits on wheels. Each kit will contain a selection of different sorbents we outline above.
You can pick up a general, multi-purpose kit for water-based fluid and hydrocarbon spills. In addition, oil-only or hazmat kits are also available. If you need something specific in your spill kit, you can even create custom DIY kits.
Shop towels and wipers
Heavy duty, lint-free shop towel rolls are available in either white or blue paper wipers. These strong paper towel style products contain up to 40% recycled materials. They’re made in the United States using a latex binder and double re-crepe (DRC) construction. This ensures superior absorbency to regular paper towels found in home kitchens. And means you can use a white or blue shop towel wet because it won’t dissolve or fall apart.
Besides standard rolls, disposable towels also come in pad, pop-up, and bucket dispensers. A wall or benchtop mount towel holder is a handy way to keep towels within easy reach. They make a great towel to wipe down cutting tool equipment and parts. In addition, they’re soft yet strong enough for cleaning your dirty hands or face.
Reusable shop rags come in several microfiber, fleece, and cotton knit fabric options. The soft material is ideal for polishing and wiping down machinery and parts. Rags come in large 25 or 50 pound dispenser boxes, offering great value for money. Choose from standard white, or, assorted color rags for dirty cleaning jobs.
Of course, you don’t always need to absorb a spill — sometimes you just need to contain it. That’s where containment berms come in. These lightweight, easy-to-use barriers allow quick and easy leak containment or redirection.
It’s also important to stay safe while handling spills, which is why you’ll need personal protective equipment, or PPE. Some of the liquids you work with may be most safely handled when wearing clothes, goggles or face masks. Conveniently, many spill kits also include basic PPE in their contents.
Finally, once you clean spills up, you need to put those used products somewhere safe where they won’t cause further contamination. Oily waste cans and biohazard waste containers provide safe, convenient ways to dispose of sensitive waste.
You should be able to focus on machining in your machine shop. With the right absorbents on hand, you don’t have to worry about spill threats.
This is a revision to a blog post with an original publish date of May 24, 2017