Showing 1-1 of 1 Responses

Cleaning and reuse of a plastic container that previously held 10M HCl

Submitted by sat on 12 March 2019

Cleaning the container:

If your container is empty, then there would only be a small amount of residual 10M HCl, which would be unlikely to cause any extreme exothermic reaction. We recommend the following steps:

Caution: concentrated acids being stored in plastic bottles:

We have concerns regarding the integrity of the container as it may have deteriorated due to an extended length of time storing a corrosive liquid in addition to possible degradation from light and storage temperature.

Regular checks on the integrity of existing plastic storage bottles for all concentrated acids should be conducted to reduce the likelihood of the bottle breaking and causing a spill of concentrated acid.  

If the integrity of the container has been compromised, then we recommend that in conjunction with a risk assessment and using safe procedures, it is decanted into an appropriately labelled glass screw capped bottle.

We recommend schools

Effect of chemicals on plastics:

Different plastics react differently to different types of chemicals. Exposure of plastics to chemicals can result in physical changes to colour, flexibility, surface appearance and strength. Furthermore the chemical resistance of some plastics can be influenced by chemical concentration, temperature and duration and frequency of exposure. A plastic container should not be reused if any of the following are evident:2

Consult a chemical compatibility chart for different types of plastic and the chemical SDS for specific storage requirements.

Assessing the suitability of a container for reuse:

An initial risk assessment should be conducted to determine the physical condition and suitability of a plastic chemical storage container for reuse:

See also a previous answer from Science ASSIST: chemical storage bottles

References and further reading.

1 Bel-Art – SP Scienceware. 2012. Cleaning and Sterilization Guide to Plastic Labware, Bel-art website,

2Thermo Scientific. 2009. Thermo Scientific Nalgene Plastics Technical Guide, University of Alaska Anchorage website,


‘Characteristic properties of commonly used laboratory plastic materials’, Lab training website, (8 December 2016)

‘Cleaning Practices for Laboratory Plastic ware’, Lab training website, (9 December 2016)

Environmental Health and Safety, University of Washington. 2017. Empty Chemical Containers Environmental Health and Safety Department University of Washington website,

‘Empty Container Disposal’, Environmental Health and Safety, University of Colorado Environmental website, (1 November 2012)

Science ASSIST. 2018. Chemical Management Handbook for Australian Schools – Edition 3, Science ASSIST website,

Science ASSIST. 2016. SOP: Diluting concentrated hydrochloric acid, Science ASSIST website,

‘Chemical storage bottles’, Q&A Science ASSIST website, (21 July 2016)

‘Disposal of silver nitrate solid’, Q&A Science ASSIST website, (21 July 2015)