Safe Storage of Household Chemicals

Common hazardous household chemicals include oven cleaners, drain openers, wood and metal cleaners and polishes, degreasers, air fresheners, toilet cleaners, shower and tile cleaners, dishwasher detergents, floor polish strippers, carpet spot removers, moth repellents, rat poisons, pesticides, adhesives and glues, paint strippers, paints, photographic chemicals, motor oil, air conditioning refrigerants, transmission and brake fluid, antifreeze, herbicides, fungicides and wood preservatives, driveway sealer, and cement.

Be sure to read the signal words on the product label: danger, warning, caution, or poison. All of these signal words mean that the household product is harmful when swallowed so you want to keep these products away from children and pets.

Store these products away from food.

Store products by type in a well ventilated area. Store hazardous household products in a locked cabinet or in a place inaccessible to children and where they cannot be knocked over by pets or when a semi-truck passes by. The best place to store pesticides is on the highest shelf available. Keep paints, paint removers, and paint thinners on a different shelf. If you are storing hazardous household products in the garage, keep the door shut and locked when children are playing.

Store all other household chemicals by type: toxic, irritant, flammable, combustible, and corrosive. Always keep products in their original containers and never remove the product labels. The product labels communicate the signal word, other hazard information, and emergency treatment information. Never put household chemicals into a food or drink container. Many children have swallowed antifreeze or some other harmful material because it was stored in an old soda bottle.

Check the containers regularly to ensure caps are still on tight and that the containers are in their original condition. If you can smell the household product, the lid may be loose. In fact if you can smell the oven cleaner, shower and tile cleaner, floor polish remover, or other household chemical and have difficulty breathing while applying the product, you do not have adequate ventilation as recommended on the product label. Continuing to use these products under these conditions can induce asthma in yourself and your children. Bulging and rusted containers indicate that the contents or containers may be reacting with the environment.

Keep flammable and combustible products stored in a clean area free from trash and away from direct sunlight, hot water heaters, space heaters, pilot lights, or any other ignition source. A household member who smokes should not smoke near these products. Store all hazardous products in a cool, dry place. Store batteries away from direct sunlight; they can ignite if they get hot enough. Do not store batteries where they can freeze; a frozen battery may explode.

Never store gasoline or fuels indoors. Always buy the least amount of a household chemical that you need to do the job. Choose the least toxic product that will do the job. Dispose of excess household chemicals during your community’s household hazard collection day.