No cardboard in biological labs


We often encounter cardboard when we visit biological labs. Unless you are using cardboard as part of your experiment, it doesn’t belong in a biological lab.

Cardboard and other porous materials cannot be decontaminated with a surface spray in the event of a splash, spatter or spill of biohazardous material. In the event of contamination, these items must be autoclaved.

Spring is the perfect time to organize, clean, and remove unnecessary and potentially hazardous clutter, such as cardboard.  

  • Do not store cardboard boxes near biological safety cabinets or other areas where biological agents are used.

  • Unpack boxes of lab supplies and store on shelves or in cupboards.

  • Keep cardboard boxes away from your work area and off the floor unless you are willing to autoclave the entire box and contents in the event of a splash, spatter or spill with a biohazard. 

  • Cardboard boxes lined with a biohazard bag are not recommended for biohazardous waste since they are not leak-proof. However, they are okay for one-time use if they are going directly to the autoclave when full.

  • Do not store any combustible materials near an autoclave or other heat-generating equipment.

  • Cardboard boxes are appropriate for storage of dry radioactive waste and liquid scintillation vials.

As you tidy up your lab, recycle paper and cardboard waste. Paper, cardboard and other common recyclables are managed by UW Recycling. For more information, see the UW Recycling Disposal Guide page.

Collaborate with others to promote biosafety. Share best practices. If you have any questions, please contact EH&S at 206.221.7770 or