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

Submitted by sat on 12 March 2019

Answer reviewed 26 February 2023

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

The container should be inspected for signs of deterioration due to an extended length of time storing a corrosive liquid and in addition, possible degradation from light exposure and high or low storage temperatures.

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 the following as good chemical management practices:

Effect of chemicals on plastics

Exposure of plastics to chemicals can result in physical changes to colour, flexibility, surface appearance and strength. Additionally, the chemical resistance of some plastics can be affected 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:

References and further reading

1 Bel-Art – SP Scienceware, 2021, Cleaning and Sterilization Guide to Plastic Labware, Bel-art website,

2Next Day Science, 2023, Everything you need to know about plastic laboratory bottles, Next Day Science website,

Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. 2012. Thermo Scientific Nalgene Bottles and Carboys Technical Brochure, Thermo Scientific website,, 2016, Characteristic properties of commonly used laboratory plastic materials, Lab training website,, 2016, Cleaning Practices for Laboratory Plastic ware, Lab training website,

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

University of Colorado Environmental Health and Safety, 2012, Disposal of Empty Chemical Containers, University of Colorado Environmental website, Disposal of Empty Chemical Containers | Environmental Health & Safety | University of Colorado Boulder