Art Supplies and Storage

Buy Safer Art Supplies

Protect yourself by buying and using safer versions of products you use to make art. Look for these words and symbols on product labels. Many of these symbols are only found on products sold for use by artists. Products designed for other purposes but of use to artists may not have these symbols. Always read warning statements on products before purchasing and follow directions for safe use. 

Nontoxic label examples for art projects.

No art product can be called completely safe. Review the Safety Data Sheets before use. Even with safer alternatives, take reasonable precautions to reduce exposure by washing hands after use, not eating around the products, and not breathing the products. 

Avoid Higher Hazard Products

Whenever possible, avoid using products with labels that say DANGER or WARNING. If you use these types of products, protect yourself from harmful exposure through ventilation or protective apparel. 

Danger and Warning label examples for art products.

Safer Choices

EPA's safer choice label.

For products, such as cleaners and degreasers, there are options to identify that a product is safer. Look for products that are listed on EPA's Safer Choice products page.

If products are not certified, review the Safety Data Sheets for hazards and consider seeking safer alternatives if there are hazard warnings that are concerning. See Ecology's Safer Products for Washington

Store Your Art Supplies Safely

Properly Label Your Secondary Containers

  • When you put art chemical products into another container, label it with the name of the product and its primary hazard (such as toxic, flammable, corrosive). The primary hazard will be listed on the product’s label.

Separate Incompatible Art Chemicals in Storage

  • Store and use acids and etchants away from flammable liquids, ammonia, caustic lye, sodium hydroxide (found in drain cleaners), bleach and slaked lime.
  • Store and use flammable solvents separately away from acids, patinas, etchants, sources of heat, and electrical outlets.

Properly Store Chemical Products When Not in Use

  • Keep containers tightly closed to reduce indoor air pollution. Store chemicals in containers with screw-top lids. Toxic and flammable solvent vapors and corrosive acid vapors can escape from open containers. Toxic dusts can spill from poorly sealed containers.

Acid Storage

  • Store acids in glass or plastic containers with a plastic lid.
  • Store acids in a separate wood or plastic cabinet with a locking door.
  • Place containers of acids in a plastic containment tub inside the cabinet that can capture leaks or spills.
  • Label the cabinet with the words “Corrosive Acids Only.”

Flammable Liquid Storage

  • Keep lids tightly closed on all flammable liquid containers when not in use to reduce exposures and prevent vapors from igniting.
  • Store flammable liquids in a separate cabinet with a locking door.
  • Place containers of flammable liquids in a plastic containment tub inside the cabinet that can capture leaks or spills.
  • Label the cabinet with the words “Flammable Liquids Only.”

Other Hazardous Art Chemical Storage

  • Keep lids tightly closed when not in use.
  • Store other hazardous art chemicals in plastic secondary containment tubs to capture spills or leaks.

Promptly Clean Up Spills

  • If art products spill, clean spills immediately. This reduces the risk of it spreading, getting on your clothing, or creating indoor air pollution.

Safely Dispose of Expired or Unwanted Art Supplies

Video: Avoiding Toxic Products

More Resources

Art and Creative Materials Institute

Art Safety, Princeton University

Arts, Crafts & Theater Safety

Art Hazards Guidance for Schools, CA OEHHA