Tennessee Promise

Using Cleaning Products Safely

When you work with chemicals on a daily basis, it is easy to forget just how dangerous these products can be. The tendency is to forget to treat them with the respect they deserve, and painful injuries are often the result.

Cleaning products are a good example. Most of us use cleaning products fairly frequently, at work and at home. But how many of us actually bother reading the directions or product contents? How many of us use rubber gloves or splash goggles?

Many cleaning products are classified as "corrosive." Corrosives are defined as those chemicals that cause damage to organic material, especially human flesh. Acids and bases are all corrosive, and most cleaners are composed of acids and bases. Think about it: when cleaning, you're trying to "eat" away the dirt and grime. Most likely, the more effective a product is at eating away the dirt, the more effective it will be at eating away the skin on your hands. It will also do more damage if accidentally splashed in your eyes.

Cleaning products can also be extremely reactive when mixed. Bleach, when mixed with any product containing ammonia (or visa versa), will react to produce deadly chlorine gas. Never mix chemicals, especially cleaning products.

Some people think that if something works well by itself, it might work even better if combined with something else ... wrong! Even emptying a mop bucket with an ammonia-containing product into the sink, followed by a sponge full of bleach, can produce enough chlorine gas to be dangerous.

Take whatever steps are necessary to avoid mixing cleaning products. Always run clean water through a drain after dumping any sort of cleaning product down it. Wear rubber gloves, especially when using industrial strength cleaners. If there's any chance of getting a splash in the eye, wear protective goggles. If you do get a chemical splashed in your eye, flush it in clean water for at least 15 minutes.

Always use common sense to protect yourself, and treat all chemicals with the respect they deserve.