Safety precautions to take when cleaning with chemicals

Let us know if this scenario sounds familiar. The real estate called and you have just over two days to makeover your rental, transforming a cluttered, lived in ‘home’ into a photogenic property, securing another few months of suburban living. You panic a little (or a lot), hitting the local supermarket and splashing out on new sponges and harsh chemicals packaged in purple plastic; sure, a few drops burn your knees into oblivion and your eyes pearl with tears in your mission against bathroom scum, armed with bleach and spray solutions, but beauty is pain, or something like that.

The reality? Everyday people just like you unknowingly place themselves in risky situations, rushing from one job to another, making amateur mistakes and exposing their bodies to harm. Cleaning is deadly, and no, we’re not just talking about the pile of underwear threatening to catalyse a new form of bacteria; corrosive, flammable, toxic, noxious, each word is a justified descriptor of the chemical you may be handling without a care in the world. So, how do we clean safely and effectively without burning our sensitive epidermal layers?

Know Your Poison

Chemicals are poisonous. Every housekeeping pantry is crammed with at least ten different ways to die a very uncomfortable death; before snapping on a clear pair of rubber gloves, settle in for a dose of label reading and scan the ingredients list? Jibberish? Open up Google and search for each ingredient. Arming yourself with correct and up-to-date information allows you to exercise judgement over what you’re using, how you’re using it and if there’s any alternatives. Now, commercial cleaners like the folks at are hardly going to treat an office or school with white vinegar and lemon; but a residential inhabitant like yourself isn’t restricted to aggressive bleaches to get a basic job done. Experiment with grass roots inspired remedies for scum and dirt in conjunction with your current cleaning set; not only will you save your skin and protect your eyes, you’ll be doing the environment a favour too, as minty fresh suds must disappear somewhere down the pipeline, right?

Never Mix Chemicals

Look, we know you took tenth grade chemistry and scored a decent mark, you may even recognise the list of ingredients on each brightly coloured bottle of scum-killing stuff lining an entire aisle at Woolworths, and you saw the Myth Busters guys mix cleaning chemicals one time, so it’s totally acceptable if you do it, right? Wrong. While you might be comfortable fiddling around with Bunsen burners and elemental agents in a strictly controlled environment, your bathroom is not a classroom or a lab – you have no idea what may happen if you combine A with B with C. It may be tempting, especially if Anecdotal Annie says on Facebook she knows someone who knows someone who did this thing for the stuff, but there’s a reason for all of those warnings. Leave the chemistry to the experts.

Check Your Wardrobe

Aside from donning your bright whites (a shirt and shorts you don’t care about preferably), think about the implications of bleaching the bath of kitchen without the prescribed protective gear. While you may be able to tolerate the tingling sensation creeping beneath your skin for the first ten minutes or so, nothing sears more than bleach in a paper cut (we know someone who knows someone). Save your hands the discomfort and invest in a pair of cleaning gloves you can put aside for rental inspections or spring cleaning, wear long short or loose cotton pants to protect your knees and never inhale the fumes that will no doubt fill a cramped space if you choose to close the door.

What about you, dear audience? What safe cleaning tips do you have rattling around your utility cupboards? Let us know in the comments below.

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  1. I never scored a decent mark in Chem. Hahaha!

    Seriously, it is indeed very important to don the protective gears when cleaning up and using chemicals. I can't work without the gloves especially when I use the bleach. It stings my eyes a lot too and the odor! Goodness gracious! i feel like I'd have a bout of asthma without the mask!

  2. These tips are very helpful not only to those landowners who want their properties rented but also to simple homeowners. Bleach and other chemicals should not be taken lightly because they can indeed be hazardous.

  3. Great tips. I would like to add that chemicals must always be stored in a safe place - out of reach and out of sight of children

  4. Great article, but what's under your sink doesn't have to be poison. There are lots of alternatives.

  5. This is a must read. I make mistakes like this especially when I am multi taSKING so that you!

  6. oh yeah, i am sure security would be the best way for everyone to prevent from getting a much more serious accidents. Thank you for the tips.

  7. we don't really use bleach at home and other strong chemicals, most of our cleaning agents are the friendlier chemicals such as vinegar and baking soda :) which are used for cooking. I use lemons and orange peels for deodorizers. :) i guess, as long as we don't build up tough dirt and grimes, we do not really need harsh chemicals.

    what you said is very true, we should avoid mixing different products to avoid toxic reactions and fumes.

  8. i dont really do the general cleaning at home. Only my husband hehe only do those easy sweeping,mopping and other stuffs.. but most is my husband hehe. I've seen him using some gloves and other things in our storage room all complete for a tasks

  9. Ever since, I decided to embrace organic living, I've also made sure to rid my house of toxic cleaning supplies. Now, I can clean without mask and gloves. Thankfully, there are many great 'green' cleaning alternatives around here. They are not only friendly to us, they are also environment friendly.

  10. Oh... this is a very relevant post to the Fizzion cleaning product that I just blogged about! Definitely, the choice of using an environment-friendly cleaning product is a must for me!

  11. Sound tips.. and If may add, keeo chemicals away from kids reach.

  12. As much as possible, we should not handle chemicals by our hands without protection because our skin will absorb the toxins in the product. Better wear gloves than be sorry in the future.


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