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We’ve all read the advice: Always spread out your oily rags on a table to dry, or drape them over the edge of a trash can, making sure they don’t overlap. Why? Because oxygen absorption generates heat as a by-product. If you leave your oily rags in a pile, the heat can’t dissipate and a fire may result.

But how often do we ignore that advice? After all, the odds are small a fire is actually going to happen , right?

Well, it happened. Oil-soaked rags sparked a June 20 fire in Arroyo Grande, Calif., that destroyed a brand-new home and resulted in $2 million in damage, reported the San Luis Obispo Tribune.  

So follow the advice religiously; spread your rags out to dry. Once they are dry and hard, you can safely throw them in the trash. But not a moment sooner.

– Megan Fitzpatrick

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