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squeaky and safe

Household cleaners are kind of a miracle, but they’re also one of the most dangerous things in your home. I’m sure most of us know that they need to be kept in a place where the kids in your house can’t get to them, but what else should you know about cleaners? Here are 10 tips to keep in mind while you’re scrubbing . . .

  1. Check your warning labels. If a cleaner is particularly harmful for skin and eyes, you should wear gloves while using it.
  2. Less is more. Dilute your cleaners according to the directions on the bottle and use only as much as you need to get the job done. Pouring chemicals all over your countertop is not making your house cleaner—it’s just leaving more chemicals behind.
  3. Don’t mix your cleaners. This can create poisonous gases, and those are much worse than dirt. In particular, be sure to never mix bleach with ammonia, vinegar, or other acids.
  4. Air out your home by turning on a fan or opening windows after using chemical agents. It will lower your indoor pollution levels, which means you’ll be breathing in fewer chemicals.
  5. Wash your hands thoroughly after using any kind of chemical cleaner.
  6. Avoid air fresheners. These are one of the worst products for leaving chemicals around your house, and they only mask odors rather than eliminating them. Fix the smell naturally by tracking the source and cleaning with baking soda.
  7. Don’t leave cleaners sitting around unattended. Always put them away when you’re done or taking a break from a cleaning project, and store them in a cool, dry place. Preferably one that’s high off the ground where kids won’t find them.
  8. If you ever transfer chemicals or cleaners to a container different from the one they were originally sold in, mark the container properly so you know exactly what it is. It probably goes without saying that you should never store chemicals in food containers.
  9. Dispose of cleaners that are leaking or expired, but never put them in the trash or pour them down the drain. Contact your local waste management authority to find out how.
  10. Household cleaners are among the most common causes of poisoning for children. Even if you think your kids can’t get to your cleaners, always put the number for poison control—800.222.1222 for the U.S.—in the emergency contacts list by your phone.
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