When it comes to cleaning, most of us just want to jump straight in and get the job done. Sometimes, we get to work without thinking about personal safety. It is super important to know what sorts of chemicals you’re working with and to ensure that cleaning is conducted in an appropriate fashion to avoid injury. In this feature article, we’ll talk about some common but important cleaning safety tips that can help you both at home and in the workplace.
Do not mix cleaners
It is very important when cleaning to ensure you know what chemicals you’re using and what can happen if they are mixed.
For example, vinegar is a commonly used acidic cleaner, however when mixed with bleach, it creates toxic chlorine gas. Also, bleach is quite commonly used for cleaning, but when mixed with ammonia will create mustard gas chloramine and creates chloroform when mixed with rubbing alcohol. The vapour created from mixing these chemicals can be fatal, so it is of great importance that you know what you’re using, and do not inadvertently mixing these chemicals.
Generally, do not mix acidic and alkaline/basic cleaners
On their own, both acidic and alkaline cleaning products can be quite effective. These two types of cleaners are based on the pH scale. The scale runs from 1 (alkaline) through to 14 (acidic), with 7 as neutral (water).
Acidic cleaners are used for breaking up calcium build up, minerals, and rust, whilst alkaline cleaners are generally used for proteins, grease, dirt, and organic matter. When these two cleaners are mixed, they can prove to be ineffective as they cancel each other out, or it could cause a chemical reaction that is harmful to both the area being cleaned and the user. Make sure you know what acidic and/or alkaline chemicals you’re using and what effect they will have if mixed.
Cleaning from heights
It can be quite difficult to clean high spaces such as above a cupboard or dusting fans. If you are wanting, or needing, to clean an area that you can’t reach, it is very important to maintain the correct safety standards.
An appropriate ladder or stepladder should be used, with the feet firmly on the ground and not obstructed. If the ladder only has two feet, ensure it is leaning against a strong surface such as a wall.
It is also important to have a ‘spotter’ when you’re climbing up high – someone to watch while you’re up there – in the instance that you need assistance, or you do happen to injure yourself. Never use a chair or an object that is unstable to stand on, as it could cause injury to yourself or others.
Wear gloves and use different sponges or cloths for different spaces within the home
Gloves are an important part of cleaning. Wearing gloves protects your skin from the potentially hazardous chemicals you may be using to clean with.
Whether you are using a sponge or cloth to clean with, it is crucial to use different tools for different areas. By using a different tool, it will decrease the chance of contaminating a different area; for example, using one sponge on mould then using the same sponge elsewhere in the house could transfer the mould to a new space. By using different tools, it also ensures that the chemicals you are using aren’t being used on the wrong areas or surfaces, which could cause damage.
When using strong chemicals, be wary of vapours and keep areas well ventilated
As previously discussed, it can be very easy to create dangerous vapours from mixing chemicals. If you’re cleaning using harsh or strong chemicals, ensure that the area is well ventilated to avoid breathing in potentially harmful fumes.
If the area isn’t well ventilated with windows or exhaust fans, try to source a small fan to help circulate the air around the room and minimise the fumes being inhaled.
As you can see, there are many safety concerns that should be noted and accounted for when cleaning. Make sure that you aren’t using unsafe practices, such as climbing on chairs to reach high surfaces, or mixing chemicals that you are unsure about.
One way to cut down on harmful chemicals, especially in the bathroom/shower, is to check out our GLASSGUARD Glass Restoration Stain Remover that is free from harsh chemicals and safe for you and the environment.
Hopefully these tips have helped you on your cleaning mission, as safety should always be your number one priority!