By K.A. Danko, U.S.
A few steps can increase safety when increasing cleaning protocols.
Have you ever cleaned a room without ventilating it because you were only going to be in there for a quick minute? Did you bolt out of the room when your eyes started burning or you started having a hard time breathing? Many of us have done this, even though we know it’s a dangerous way to use cleaners. It only takes seconds for toxic fumes to create a hazardous situation. It is also dangerous, and sometimes deadly, to mix some cleaners and disinfectants together. In the US, poison centers received 45,550 exposure calls related to cleaners and disinfectants from January through March of this year, a 20.4% increase from a year ago, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This number is due to the increase in cleaning protocols during COVID-19. As we increase our cleaning protocols, we need to keep in mind a few best practices that can keep us safe.
Clean per CDC recommendations
To remain safe while cleaning, the CDC recommends that you avoid mixing chemical products and always read and follow directions on the label. This is in addition to wearing eye and skin protection, making sure your room is properly ventilated, and keeping products out of reach from children.
Dangerous chemical combinations
The Internet and various organizations are full of advice about what to use to clean and disinfect our businesses, laboratories and homes. While many products are often effective for cleaning, they are not always safe. Strong volatile chemicals (such as acids, alcohols, ketones, etc.) can produce noxious and irritating fumes or burns. In some cases, common household or laboratory cleaners and agents can become dangerous and lethal if combined. Bleach (sodium hypochlorite) solutions are very dangerous when mixed with most common chemicals.
We advise you to purchase a disinfectant or cleaning solution already prepared to meet your needs, and review the infographics below that highlight some of the most dangerous combinations of household and laboratory cleaners. You can also check out our chemical compatibility chart for chemicals and materials compatibility.
Be careful with bleach
Bleach should only be combined with water. Combining bleach with the chemicals below creates toxic solutions and gases.
Don’t mix hydrogen peroxide with vinegar
Combining hydrogen peroxide and vinegar creates peracetic acid, which is potentially toxic and can irritate the skin, eyes, and respiratory system.
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