Now that warmer weather has arrived, you’re probably breaking out the detergents, air fresheners, cleaning sprays and bleach to rid the house of dust and dirt in preparation for the spring and summer. Spring cleaning is a tradition that many people follow, but if you have children are in the home, it’s important to make safety a priority in order to minimize the risk of accidental poisoning or inhalation of toxic chemicals.
Many household cleaners—such as laundry detergent pods, toilet bowl cleaners, household bleach, spray cleaners and wipes—can cause poisoning, skin allergies, eye irritation, skin irritation, airway irritation, and other health effects in infants and children. While spring cleaning is meant to improve the health of a home environment, it can have the opposite effect and become dangerous.
Consider the following safety tips when going through your spring cleaning checklist:
Pay attention to the product
When choosing cleaning products for your home, always make sure to read the labels. Industrial cleaners usually contain stronger chemicals than standard household cleaning supplies. Products with moderate to strong alkali including drain cleaners, oven cleaners, or ammonia can cause chemical burns or harm the lungs if inhaled. Furniture stains, floor polish, or products containing mineral oils can cause aspiration, which can lead to lung inflammation and severe breathing problems. When purchasing, also look for products with child-resistant packaging to add an extra barrier for safety.
Always use as directed
Only use chemical cleaners as directed on the manufacturer’s label and never mix chemicals or cleaners together. For example, ammonia —often used for its grease cutting abilities—when mixed with bleach, creates chloramine, a poisonous fume that can cause health issues if inhaled. Be careful not to spray cleaning products around food and if using aerosol cans, keep them away from direct sunlight, heat and the stove as the can explode and become a fire hazard.
Create a safe environment
Keep all cleaning products locked away and out of reach of children, not in an easy to reach bathroom or kitchen cabinet. And don’t forget about the garage. Yardwork products, such as pesticide and swimming pool chemicals, as well as car products like antifreeze are toxic. Furthermore, never store liquid cleaners in food or beverage containers, such as soda bottles. This can confuse young children and lead to accidental consumption. In addition, it is important to make sure the areas being cleaned in the home are well-ventilated by opening windows or running an exhaust fan. If possible, keep young children out of the room being cleaned.
If a child does come into contact with or ingest a cleaning product, call the Poison Control Center immediately at 1-800-222-1222. The Poison Control Center is a national resource that can provide proper instructions and is available on a 24/7 basis. For more information on the risks of cleaning products, visit the Poison Control Center website.