Clean outs and lab moves

EHS works with MIT's departments, labs and centers to provide support and guidance for all types and sizes of lab moves and chemical cleanouts. These activities result in the need for lab materials and chemicals to be moved, disposed of and decontaminated, which requires resources from the lab and Institute staff (EHS & Facilities). Below are a few frequently asked questions that should clarify initial questions, but if more arise please refer to the EHS SOP on lab moves and decontaminations or contact your EHS Coordinator, Lead Contact or EHS Team representatives, as any of them can help with most questions. 


It is strongly suggested that EHS be notified as soon as possible, so that the whole process can have a smooth transition and not delay any potential deadlines. Please be aware that working with MIT EHS is required for all chemical moves from one lab space to another. Transportation of chemicals in personal vehicles is prohibited by law and can result in fines to both the lab and Institute. It is strongly discouraged that laboratories move chemicals from one laboratory to another on their own. We encourage all labs to work directly with their EHS Coordinator and Lead Contact Teams to safely and effectively move and decontaminate their labs following the EHS SOP mentioned above. Financial responsibility for chemical cleanouts, decontamination activities and moving are ultimately the responsibility of the DLC. Funding should be secured by working with MIT department of facilities during the renovation or relocation process of the project.


Q: What do I do with my unwanted chemicals?

A: The EHS Office will work with the lab to remove unwanted and expired chemicals before the lab’s scheduled move date. The sooner the lab identifies such chemicals and informs the EHS Office the better. The lab representative or EHS Rep should contact EHS by sending an email to or work directly with their EMP Team Member to schedule a walkthrough of the lab to scope the volume and types of chemicals.

For ease of identifying these chemicals, red stickers can be provided by EHS, which will eliminate the need to complete red tags for each container. Keep in mind that chemicals need to be in the original container and legable for this process to happen. It is in the lab’s best interest to identify and set aside as much of their unwanted chemicals for removal, rather than move them to their new space. The type and volume of unwanted/expired chemicals will determine whether or not a fee will be associated with this request. For specific fees and questions pertaining to costs associated with laboratory moves please reference the document HW costs covered by DLC or the SOP on Hazardous Waste Disposal.

As with any waste removal request, there is an associated fee for the following items regardless of volume, if found in the lab during these cleanouts:

  • unknown chemicals
  • cylinder and lecture bottle disposal
  • highly reactive chemicals (temperature sensitive, explosive materials, lithium, or certain peroxide forming materials)


Q: Do pumps need to be drained of oil?

A: Per EHS Move SOP if the vacuum pump is sealed with no chance for leakage, then it is OK to leave oil in pump. If not, then drain oil prior to moving. The material should then be decontaminated and labeled with a green decontamination sticker. Collect drained oil as hazardous waste. If you are decommissioning a piece of equipment known to have oil, please drain the oil and collect as a hazardous waste prior to disposing of the equipment. MIT facilities will not collect any equipment without a decontamination sticker.


Q: According to EHS, what solutions should be used to wipe down our workspaces?

A: To summarize the EHS Move SOP, the lab should do the following when wiping down workspaces

  • Biological areas – use a 10% bleach solution or 70% ethanol solution with paper towels discard of wipes in the trash
  • Chemical areas – use a Simple Green solution; discard of wipes in the trash.
  • Ethidium Bromide & other stains – these areas should be wiped down twice using a Simple Green solution. Wipes generated from the first wipe down should be collected with your Ethidium Bromide gel waste and the second series of wipes can be discarded in the trash. A black light can be used to find areas that have been contaminated with ethidium bromide.

*Simple Green will be made available through the VWR Stockroom in the basement of 56 or can be purchased through your office supply vendor.


Q: What equipment needs to be wiped down by the lab and what is the best way to do this?

Lab Equipment

If used with Biologicals



Use 10% bleach and wipe down the interior and exterior of centrifuge and rotors.  After done, place decontamination sticker on centrifuge and rotor.



Pack tightly to avoid internal breakage.  Wipe down the outside of the freezers with 10% bleach. Lock if possible.

 Freezers and fridges can be moved once packed with proper packing material.


Water jacketed incubators need to be drained (MIT department of facilities can handle this request) and decontaminated with 10% bleach on the outside.  Use 70% ethanol to decontaminate the inside of the incubator.  Remember to avoid algae growth, have water conditioners on hand upon refilling.

Use 10% bleach to wipe down outer surfaces.


Use 70% ethanol to wipe down surfaces inside the incubators.


Unplug the refrigerator.  If it has a small freezer, defrost the freezer.  Wipe down the inside and outside surfaces with 10% bleach.  After done, place a decontamination tag on it.



Use 10% bleach and wipe down the inside and outside of the shaker.  Spray the attachment rings with 10% bleach and dry.  After done, place a decontamination tag on it.



Use 10% bleach and spray down the sink and sink handles.  Wait 20 minutes and rinse.


All Sinks are required to be tested for mercury contamination.

 Contact EHS so that sinks can be tested for Mercury contamination.

Water Baths

Empty the water baths.  Remove the thermometers as applicable.  Wipe down the inside and outside with 10% bleach.  After, place a decontamination tag on water bath.


Bench Tops


For a simple move. The bench top can be wiped down with a solution of simple. For complex decons Contact EHS prior to decontaminating bench tops. Scope of work has to be determined, e.g. renovations or new PI will help determine scope and level of “How Clean is Clean


Fume Hoods

Contact EHS prior to decontaminating fume hoods. Scope of work has to be determined, e.g. renovations or new PI will help determine scope and level of “How Clean is Clean”


Fume Hoods should be emptied of any chemicals, glassware, monkey bars, etc. Wipe down entire surface, glass, etc. with a simple green solution. After, place a decontamination tag on the fume hood glass.


If a cup sink is present in the fume hood; it needs to be tested for mercury contamination.

The duct work needs to be tested for perchlorates by EHS IHP.



Contact EHS prior to decontamination.