Recommended Chemical Spill Cleanup Procedures

chemical spill cleanup

You should NOT clean up a spill if:

  • You don’t know what the spilled material is
  • You lack the necessary protection or equipment to do the job safely
  • The spill is too large to contain
  • The spilled material is highly toxic
  • You feel any symptoms of exposure

Instead contact: 805.893.3194 EH&S (24 hr line – after-hours may have to wait up to 30 min for response to campus). OR, if immediately health-threatening call 911 (campus phone)

Spill Response Scheme

Evaluate and Notify

  • Assess the toxicity, flammability, or other properties of material (see label & MSDS)
  • For flammables, remove or turn off ignition sources such as motors, pumps, fridges.
  • Determine if there is an immediate health threat to you or your neighbors. If so, alert neighbors, isolate the area and call for help using the phone numbers above.
  • If spill is minor, begin cleanup following steps below


  • Don appropriate gloves, eye protection, lab coat, etc.
  • Per SDS use absorbents* (e.g., “spill pillows” for solvents), or neutralizers appropriate for the material*, e.g. sodium bicarbonate for acids, citric for bases.
  • Protect floor drains with absorbents or barriers around them
  • Package and label waste. Include contaminated clothes, rags, equipment, etc.
  • Store temporarily in a fume hood if material is volatile



*Self-help spill cleanup equipment are available using graduate keys in some buildings.