Household chemicals can be incredibly hazardous. Many cleaners are either highly acidic or high caustic, meaning that they can cause immediate and painful damage to protective skin tissue, let alone the membranes inside your mouth, nose, and eyes. Other cleaners can cause long-term damage that you may not even notice until it is too late, such as irreparable damage to reproductive organs.
Household chemicals deserve much more respect than they are often given. However, as every consumer who keeps a home knows, you can only do the job right if you have the right tools. The right tool is usually one household cleaner or another. Therefore, consumers need to find ways to use household chemicals safely, in order to maintain a clean home.
First and foremost, consumers should read the label of any household chemical before using it. Safe use of household chemicals is spelled out on each and every label, which explains in detail what the hazards are, and what precautions should be taken to avoid the hazards.
Instructions may include suggested personal protective equipment (PPE) such as latex or nitrile gloves. Depending on the level of hazard, such as can be found in many drain cleaners, protective safety glasses might be recommended, so as to protect your eyes from chemical splash. Be aware that not all safety glasses guard against chemical splash, so check the label to be sure they are certified for this, and not just for protection from flying objects.
Some cleaners may recommend the use of ventilation to avoid breathing toxic fumes. When using these chemicals in a bathroom, be sure to turn on the overhead fan and minimize the amount of time you spend in the room with the chemical. When using noxious chemicals in other parts of the house, open windows and set up a fan to blow the air out of the house, to keep the air in your immediate area safe to breathe.
Another thing to consider while using household cleaners is that mixing certain chemicals together can cause unexpected toxic fumes. Cleaners should never be mixed together for any reason, unless the products are specifically intended for mixing, or unless the consumer has the expertise to know what the reactions will occur. One common example of this is bleach and ammonia, which react to create chlorine gas. Chlorine gas is deadly. Because many household cleaners contain either bleach or ammonia, the production of chlorine gas is possible with any mixture. Just don’t do it.
Household cleaners are wonderful tools for keeping your house spic-and-span, and they can be used safely. Always read the label of any cleaner before you use it, and take the safety precautions seriously.