Dr Rhazes

House-clean: Are you poisoning yourself?

It’s a wonderful feeling, that spick and span look after floors are swept and mopped, and everything is wiped down, polished, dusted and arranged. But, here’s the thing: a modern home-clean uses an array of products – harsh chemicals and some may even be poisonous.

6 must-knows to ensure a safe house-clean routine

Match product to use – do not multi-task

A bathroom-cleaner is likely to have strong chemicals such as bleach and ammonia to get rid of tough grime and germs. This is not a product you should use to wipe down kitchen counters – exposing your food to the chemicals. And surface cleaning sprays, however fragrant, are not meant to be sprayed on yourself or your pet – you may be inhaling toxic vapours.  

Read labels to check ingredients

Stay away from products that contain carcinogenic chemicals or anything corrosive or containing pesticides. In case you’re in doubt about any ingredient, do the research. You’ll feel safer. Refer to the Safer Ingredients List on the United States Environmental Protection Agency website to know more.

Avoid mixing products

Each product contains a mix of chemicals in a proportion that is just right for its purpose. Mixing different products could result in toxic gasses being created that could make you sick or even poison you. For instance, chlorine bleach – usually listed as sodium hypochlorite – can create dangerous gases if mixed with anything other than water. Ingredients such as chlorine bleach, ammonia, alcohol or hydrogen peroxide – common in cleaning products – can create toxic gases when mixed with simple vinegar. Also, it may be best to avoid using different products one after the other for the same purpose – can still trigger reaction.

Reduce exposure

Since many cleaning products contain harsh chemicals to kill as much of the bacteria, viruses, germs and fungi on a surface, limit exposure to these products. Even a detergent powder which is packed in a concentrated form may harm you if it accidentally reaches your eyes. Use gloves and even a face mask if required to protect your skin and avoid inhaling the fumes. If you’re unwell, skip the house-clean routine altogether.

Use products in correct proportions

Using too little could result in the surface not being fully cleaned and too much could be hazardous to your health. Read labels to ascertain quantity to be used.

Store products safely

When not in use, make sure that all your cleaning products are stored safely, out of the reach of children or pets. Tighten the caps to avoid spillage and store them in an upright position or as required by the instructions on the labels. Also, if transferring the product to another container, ensure it is labelled clearly.

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