Poison Control Centers have been reporting a large increase in calls related to the use of household cleaners and disinfectants. According to the CDC, much of the recent increase in Poison Control Center calls has been related to the improper use of products like bleach, and hand sanitizers. You can read more here. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6923e2.htm?s_cid=mm6923e2_w
So I decided for National Safety Month to discuss how to clean, and sanitize your home without making yourself or others ill. Read on to refresh your memory!
Never Mix Cleaners
First of all, never mix household cleaning products together. Mixing cleaners can cause poisonous gases to be released. The following video is a bit silly at the beginning, but it does an effective job of teaching this subject. I didn’t know half of these, but I was taught as a girl to never mix cleaners. It’s kept me out of trouble.
Cleaners Vs Disinfectants
Cleaners remove surface dirt and grease. Disinfectants are chemicals designed to kill germs on SURFACES. The cheapest disinfectant is bleach. Never use disinfectant products on skin! Disinfectants are too strong for your skin and will cause skin irritation. Also, anything applied to your skin will be absorbed into your body. For example, Clorox wipes are NOT for skin.
Disinfectants should never be taken internally or inhaled! They can cause severe irritation of the lining of the mouth and stomach, or of the lungs. Think of a bad sunburn in your mouth, throat, or airways. Also, our skin, stomach and intestines naturally have beneficial bacteria on and in them. These bacteria help our immune systems to work well. Ingesting disinfectants is not good for your health!
When disinfecting surfaces that food will touch, read the bottle’s instructions carefully. Never place food onto a freshly sanitized surface until the solution has dried.
Because disinfectants are very strong, use gloves while using them and wash your hands afterwards.
Best Ways To Wash Fruits & Vegetables
Also, please don’t clean your food with disinfectants. The following article by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension discusses how to safely remove dirt and germs from produce. In their tests, they found that using either plain cold water or distilled water was more effective than any of the products sold for this purpose. You can read more about it here. https://extension.umaine.edu/publications/4336e/
Safety of Cleaners & Disinfectants
Next, I’m very picky about the cleaning products that I use. Due to my asthma and chronic bronchitis, heavily scented products cause instant coughing fits. I do not have bleach or ammonia containing cleaners in my home because of their smell.
That goes ditto for highly scented cleaners like Lysol and Pine-Sol. I have found that unscented Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap products do a fine job with cleaning tasks. I will, also, occasionally use Comet in the toilet and bathroom sink to cut buildup of soap.
I also am trying to eliminate as many artificial chemicals from my life as possible for my health and well-being. Therefore, I don’t use antibacterial soaps either. Many of the chemicals in these products are believed to be contributing to the increasing number of antibiotic-resistant germs.
There is also evidence that some of the chemicals used in everyday products have negative affects on our health. The Environmental Working Group has detailed information about everything from cleaners, shampoos, sunscreen, and pesticides in their database. If you wish to learn more about this topic check out their website here: https://www.ewg.org/about-us
What is An Antiseptic?
“An antiseptic is a substance which inhibits the growth and development of microorganisms. Antiseptics are a diverse class of drugs which are applied to skin surfaces or mucous membranes for their anti-infective effects.”
“An antiseptic is applied to the body, while disinfectants are applied to nonliving surfaces, such as countertops and handrails. In a surgical setting, for example, a doctor will apply an antiseptic to the surgical site on a person’s body and use a disinfectant to sterilize the operating table.” You can read more information about antiseptics here: https://www.healthline.com/health/what-is-antiseptic#antiseptic-vs-disinfectant
Common antiseptics are found in the “First Aid” aisle of drug stores. They include items like peroxide, and products containing alcohol to clean skin wounds. Alcohol wipes clean the skin before getting a shot. These products are safe to use on scratches and cuts, but always read the label first.
Peroxide should never be taken internally, and it can actually impede wound healing if used straight out of the bottle, especially on slow-healing wounds.
Consult your doctor for deep wounds, animal bites, deep burns, and wounds that show redness, heat, swelling and pus. If you have a wound on a lower leg or foot, and have circulation problems, diabetes or neuropathy, consult your doctor about wound care.
What Are Hand Sanitizers?
Hand sanitizers are products meant to clean your hands when you cannot use soap and water. They include products containing alcohol, or benzalkonium chloride. Examples of these are Babyganics alcohol-free foaming hand sanitizer, and Wet Ones antibacterial Hand Wipes. Johnson’s Hand & Face wipes are gentle enough for babies and sensitive skin.
Gel and spray hand sanitizers usually contain alcohol. These products can be very drying to the skin. They will sting if put on broken skin. Check out this post if you need suggestions for dealing with eczema and hand sanitizers. https://www.upbeatliving.net/asthma-allergy-awareness-month/
Please use extra caution around children with all of these products. Be aware that alcohol will catch on fire. Never use it near an open flame! This includes lit cigarettes.
Babies’ respiratory systems and skin are very sensitive. Read the label to make sure a product is safe to use around your little ones. Keep all cleaners, disinfectants, antiseptics, and hand sanitizers away from children!
If you remember these three tips you’ll be able to use disinfectants, cleaners, antiseptics, and hand sanitizers safely:
- Never Mix Products
- Read The Labels
- Keep These Products Out Of The Reach Of Children
I hope this helped clear up any confusion about these products. Now you can safely keep your home clean. I welcome your comments or questions.
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Till next time, Kathy