Hints & HELP!
Cleaning Products Safe?
submitted by Lorene Bartos, Extension Educator
article appeared in the September 8 Lincoln Journal Star
consumers tend to think anything sold must be safe. However,
the American Association of Poison Control Centers recorded
many exposures to household cleaning substances were serious
enough to require treatment in a health care facility.
and polishes are effective for the job they are designed
to do because they contain chemicals. As a precaution, use
all household chemical products as the label directs. Minimize
your exposure as much as possible. Watch for signal words
on the label: CAUTION, WARNING or DANGER.
the Label and Follow the Directions
Never mix products, unless the label allows it. Never mix
bleach with acid toilet bowl cleaners or ammonia. These
mixtures may produce toxic fumes. Again, watch out for signal
words such as CAUTION, WARNING AND DANGER.
Don't mix different brands of one type of product (for example,
different brands of drain openers), because dangerous chemical
reactions may occur.
Avoid skin and eye contact with cleaners and polishes, especially
drain and oven cleaners. Use protective clothing and gloves.
Protect eyes when using strong cleaners such as bleach or
drain openers. If you get these products on any exposed
skin, wash the area immediately with lots of water.
Avoid breathing cleaner and polish fumes. Ventilate the
room when using them.
If you are pregnant or suspect you may be pregnant, avoid
exposure to as many hazardous chemicals as possible. Many
chemicals in household products have not been tested for
their effects on unborn children.
Keep products in their original containers. You need the
label to follow directions for proper use and to identify
the ingredients if the product poisons someone.
Keep out of reach of children. If you are called away to
answer the door or telephone when using one of these products,
carry it with you to keep it in sight and away from children.
Buy just enough product to do the job.
Look for a non-hazardous or less hazardous product to do
Dispose of empty containers properly. Wrap aerosol cans
or containers in newspaper, secure with tape or string and
place in garbage containers on the day of pick up.
Follow the recommendations of your local solid waste authority
for disposing unused products.
household cleaners and polishes cause little damage to the
environment if used up according to label directions. However,
some product uses and disposal of unwanted products merit
and Polishers that are Generally More Hazardous
Exploding aerosol spray cans can cause accidents, injuries
and deaths. Don't throw aerosol cans into fires or incinerators
or leave them near stoves, in auto glove compartments or
in the sunlight where they can heat up.
Chlorine bleach is extremely reactive. Never mix bleach
with ammonia, or other cleaning products unless the label
specifically permits it.
for Rugs and Upholstery, Dry Cleaning Fluids: Many of
these products contain chemical solvents. Some solvents
are extremely flammable. Consumers should be careful to
use up products containing solvents before disposing of
Laundry products contain various chemicals. To reduce the
release of such chemicals to the environment, use detergents
conservatively. Use clothes and dish washers only when you
have a full load to clean.
and Pesticides: Disinfectants are pesticides used to
control bacteria. Use disinfectants conservatively and with
caution, especially spray disinfectants that disperse these
toxic chemicals into the air where you can easily breath
Openers: Drain openers are highly corrosive. Don't add
a drain opener to a toilet bowl that contains toilet bowl
Cleaners: Oven cleaners contain very strong, corrosive
and Furniture Oils: Polishes come in several forms and
different chemicals are used to help apply polish to furniture.
Organic solvents that carry or dissolve the polish are often
health hazards. These solvents may be identified as "inert"
ingredients on the label.
of unwanted products may cause environmental damage.
Contact your community health department for proper disposal
of unwanted products. If you live in Lincoln/Lancaster County,
collection dates (if available) can be found on this site.
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