Hazardous Household Products – What Makes Them Dangerous and How to Handle Them Responsibly
We tend to see home cleaning as a tedious, repetitive, but ultimately a safe process. After all, aren’t dust and dirt the true threat to your well-being? Well, not quite. The next time you reach out for the colourful bottles under your kitchen sink, take a few minutes to read their warning labels. Because what they contain may be far more dangerous than the things you’re about to clean. And their improper usage may potentially lead to some serious health complications.
What Makes a Detergent Hazardous?
If and how much a given cleaning product can affect your health depends on the type of ingredients it contains. For instance, most kitchen, bathroom, and other household chemicals come with at least 5% of ammonia – a poisonous substance that can cause skin irritation and even severe burns on contact.
Sodium hydroxide, more commonly known as “lye”, is a corrosive component that can also adversely affect your skin or eyes and is yet another potential threat that so many homeowners unwittingly ignore. But we are merely scratching the surface here. Lead, sulfuric acid, ethylene glycol… the list of dangerous substances is quite extensive and you would have to be a really dedicated chemist to remember them by heart.
Luckily, there’s a much simpler alternative – just read the warning labels on the back of the packaging to know exactly what you’re dealing with! These signs may indicate that the product you’re holding is flammable, explosive, corrosive, toxic, or even radioactive. Granted, most products are relatively safe if you use them in the right amounts, but it never hurts to be prepared.
In case you’ve missed them, check our previous posts in Household Enemies category:
Examples of Dangerous Home Products
Just because some product smells good, doesn’t mean it’s also good for your health. A prime example of that is one of the most popular chemicals in every household – the air freshener. Containing an organic compound called formaldehyde, the mixture inside the spray can could irritate your eyes, throat, skin, or lungs.
The similarly widespread window cleaners contain ammonia that, besides causing skin damage, may also produce a deadly chloramine gas if mixed with products that contain chlorine. And the drain cleaners have a mixture of lye and sulfuric acid that may cause burns or even permanent blindness if it gets into your eyes.
Besides in your kitchen, dangerous chemicals can also be found inside your garage. Antifreeze, notorious for its sweet scent, contains ethylene glycol and should be kept away from pets at all costs as the substance is highly poisonous. Pay special attention when handling car batteries, as the sulfuric acid inside can cause major skin burns.
Even the cheerful colours of the paint buckets you keep around can be deceptive as most paints contain organic solvents whose fumes may cause anything from splitting headaches to nausea, dizziness, and fatigue. Just like paint, many insecticides on the market can provoke similar symptoms if inhaled by accident.
Avoiding Trouble – Safety & Prevention Tips
We know we’ve said it two times already, but it bears repeating – always read the warning labels placed by the manufacturers and follow the safety instructions as closely as possible. When handling products that are especially dangerous, make a habit of always wearing a pair of rubber gloves, as well as a suitable mask and/or eye protection to avoid coming into direct contact with the toxic substances.
Another rule of thumb is to always work in a well-ventilated area (when possible) and to store your products in cool and remote areas. Once you’ve used up your products, contact your local council to leave them at the nearest waste disposal site. Some of those items, such as batteries or light bulbs, can be even sent for recycling.
When it comes to prevention, the best thing you could do is avoid using such products in the first place. This is especially easy to do with cleaning, since there are many eco-friendly options that are easily accessible to any household.
For instance, instead of scrubbing your sinks with an abrasive cleaner, use a handful of baking soda to achieve the same results, minus the risk that tags along with most commercial products. Instead of using a spray-based window cleaner, you can polish the surface of your windows using nothing but a cleaning cloth and a few drops of white vinegar.
And when it comes to your air freshener, you can replace it with a few fragrant plants that will not only do the job better, but also add a nice aesthetic touch to your home.
If you are planning a massive cleaning of your property as part of your tenancy agreement, you will have to read many warning labels on a variety of household products to get things done in a safely manner.
There, you will have to tackle different surfaces, types of flooring, and rooms which will require different products. You can see our service which is suitable for such occasions – end of tenancy cleaning, it will help you go through the chores of moving out without having to read each and every label on your cleaning products. Still, if you decide to do it on your own, be sure to read this piece once more before starting.