How to safely clean out a lab space for reuse


After a research group has moved or left the University, the department may be faced with handling a variety of hazards. There may be chemicals, radioactive materials, biological materials, and equipment containing hazardous materials that must be managed before a new group takes ownership of the space.

Get safety training

The person assigned to support a lab cleanout will need training to safely manage all of these hazards. Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) offers online courses to educate staff about such hazards. The Safety Training for Laboratory Personnel matrix identifies required and recommended courses for people working in laboratories or working around lab hazards. Training should be assigned by the department and completed before the cleanout begins.

Follow the checklist

The expectations of a lab clean out are detailed in the EH&S Moving Out Checklist in Appendix E (Section C)  of the Laboratory Safety Manual. Complete the Notice of Laboratory Moveout form to ensure the space is left clean and safe. The department should retain a copy of this form or post the form inside the lab near the doorway.

manometer with mercury
Manometer with glass tube containing mercury

Dispose of all chemicals

During the cleanout, don’t overlook chemicals that may be located within laboratory equipment, such as mercury in manometers and thermometers, and petroleum oil in pumps and motors. Before moving equipment that may contain chemicals that could leak, verify what it contains and how to safely drain them. Collect this waste for proper disposal by EH&S.


Decontaminate surfaces and equipment following the removal of hazardous materials. Complete the Notice of Laboratory Equipment Decontamination Form before requesting pickup by UW Surplus.

Feel free to contact EH&S at 206.543.7262 for any questions during the cleanout process.


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