Use and store
household chemicals safely
Connie thought mixing ammonia and bleach would
give her a stronger cleaning compound for the large floor she
was mopping. Instead, her concoction produced a deadly chlorine
gas. Fortunately for her and others in the building, she mixed
the chemicals in an open space and the gas dissipated before it
could harm anyone.
"Never, ever mix bleach with any other
cleaning solution or powder. The deadly fumes can quickly
overcome you. Accidents also can happen when an area that has
been cleaned with products containing ammonia is then cleaned
with bleach. If you must clean the spot again with bleach, make
sure you rinse the area thoroughly with water. If you clean with
bleach, the Iowa Department of Health recommends a solution of
˝ cup bleach per gallon of water for general disinfectant
use," says Brad Sayre, risk management and safety
specialist at Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company.
"Everyone has a long list of household
cleaning chemicals in the home—from detergent to dishwasher
soap, to tub and tile clean to furniture polish. The key to
keeping everyone safe is to follow a few simple rules," he
Keep chemicals in their original containers
and close the lids tightly after use.
Read the label before using any cleaner and
follow the directions. Do not use date-expired cleaners.
Store cleaning agents in a locked cupboard out
of the reach of children, and do not keep chemicals near food
"The most common place to store
dishwashing liquid and dishwasher detergent is under the kitchen
sink. If you have small children, lock the cabinet doors or find
another place for these items. You can purchase inexpensive
safety latches at hardware or discount stores," Sayre says.
Ammonia, bleach and cleaners used for drains,
showers, tubs, sinks, tile and toilet bowls are among the most
dangerous household chemicals.
"Many of these solutions contain caustic
agents which can damage skin and irritate a person’s eyes and
nose. Carefully read the label information about what to do if
the cleaner is spilled or ingested. Use these products with
caution," Sayre says.
Another good idea is to add the Poison Control
Center to your list of emergency numbers, he adds.
"Being able to quickly contact someone
for help, and providing them with as much information about the
chemical as possible, could save a life," he says.
Reprinted with permission by:
Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance