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Housekeeping Basics: Proper Use, Storage and Disposal of Products

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Failure to properly use, store and dispose of household products can put you and your family’s health at risk. Many household products contain chemicals that are toxic and can cause severe health issues if not handled properly. Research shows that many people do not properly handle cleaning products. This is alarming because if mishandled, these products can burn the skin or eyes, irritate the lungs, aggravate asthma, cause dizziness and nausea and cause death.

Negative health outcomes can be prevented by utilizing safe household cleaning practices. Always make sure to read the labels on products before you start cleaning. The label should contain: warnings, first aid instructions, emergency contact information and instructions on how to use, store and dispose of the product. Depending on the product, you might need to wear googles and or gloves. The label should state whether this apparatus is necessary. Always ensure that there is good ventilation while using products. Sufficient ventilation should be ensured when working with chemicals. As a rule of thumb with cleaning products, only use cold water. Hot water, temperature over 30 degrees Celsius, destroys the cleaning agent and disinfectant. Hot water can also damage your hands. The warmth of the water can cause your pores to open resulting in dirt and microorganisms flowing deep into your hand. Always read the label to see if dilution is necessary and remember to never mix one product with another. Mixing can cause the products to lose their effect and can also lead to the formation of toxic gases. For example, chlorine bleach mixed with ammonia in toilet bowel cleaners produces toxic fumes. 

Proper storage and disposal of household products is just as important as proper use. Be sure to only use the original container to prevent accidental mixing of chemicals. When storing products, think about whether your small children or pets can reach them. You should place products on a high shelf or inside a cabinet that is locked. Always store containers in well-ventilated areas that are not too cold or hot. Your product label will provide storage temperatures. Ensure that containers are tightly sealed and dry to prevent leakage. You might want to consider storing products by type to prevent accidental mix ups. For example, all the mold removers in one spot and all the bleaches in another. Always follow the label directions for proper disposal. If there are no directions, think about how you use the product. If it mixes with water, then it is water-soluble. Most water-soluble cleaners can be poured down the drain with running water. Solid products such as aerosols and cleaning wipes can generally be thrown in the trash. Your local waste management can provide you with information on how to dispose of household products in your area. Don’t forget to recycle containers when possible!



“Household Chemical Products and Their Health Risk.” Cleveland Clinic, 5 March 2014,“Handling of Cleaning Materials.” Vermop. know/handling-of-cleaning-chemicals.html. 

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