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Three Rules for Chemical Safety

“Killer” Tips for Staying Alive

So, most of the time in this blog we like to take things fairly easy. We take a “you do you” stance for most things. This one, though… if you want to live you’ll listen up. Chemical safety is not optional. It’s not a matter of opinion. It’s literally life or death, and there’s far too many people out there that know absolutely nothing about it making viral TikToks that could hurt people. 

Cleaning Cents management devotes an hour of every week to researching chemical safety and disseminating what we’ve learned to staff. We don’t expect you to go near that deep, so we’re providing three easy rules of thumb so you can stay safe: if you don’t know, don’t mix; trust the label not TikTok; and slay the safe way. 

1. If You Don’t Know, Don’t Mix

Let’s reach, for a moment, for two incredibly common cleaning chemicals you can find in virtually any household. Bleach and ammonia. Individually, reasonably safe, which is why you can find them in almost any department store right on the shelf. Put them together and you’re dead as a hammer. 

We won’t bore you, here, with a long-winded explanation of how the chloramines created by that reaction will literally burn your lungs out and why. Let’s just underline that this is something you don’t under any circumstances want to do

Lots of people know about this one, plenty of people don’t. The point is that these two bottles on the shelf are so commonplace that everyone should know not to mix them. But, people don’t. And that’s the real point. If you don’t know, don’t mix. And, on your life, don’t trust rogue AIs giving you recipes for “Aromatic Water”; as this Forbes article indicates, you really can’t trust AI to not fill your house with poisonous gasses. 

No matter what influencers or chatbots online tell you, there’s absolutely no need to add bleach to your toilet bowl cleaner, drain cleaner to your laundry detergent, or any other number of frankly bonkers combos these people come up with. We don’t need to make an exhaustive list of what you shouldn’t mix, stick with not mixing at all

2. Trust the Label, Not TikTok

The people that formulate the cleaning chemicals for big companies have job titles, degrees, and accreditations lists longer than your arm. People on Facebook and TikTok… not so much. Simultaneously, chemicals in factories are created in controlled settings with safeguards in place. By comparison, here’s a social media influencer making her own bleach without gloves, goggles, a mask, or even proper room ventilation. Or, for that matter, even knowing the amount of chemicals she is mixing. 

It should come as no surprise that we don’t suggest mixing your own chemicals. The health dangers to you and your family far, far outweigh any financial considerations. And, chemicals you make yourself aren’t guaranteed to have the same chemical composition as factory made, meaning they could interact with your home and/or other chemicals in ways you don’t expect. 

Follow the directions on labels of all store-bought household chemicals like it’s a matter of life and death… because it is. Most will have MSDS–material safety data sheets–which give you even more in-depth information to follow if you have any needs the label doesn’t fill. 

3. Slay the Safe Way

Our last point on chemical safety is actually a recommendation to use less. The echoes of Covid fears have many of us still practically bathing in hand sanitizer and drowning our homes in chemical disinfectants. Not only is this not necessary, it’s also expensive and–in many instances–actually counterproductive and even damaging to your home. 

Take, for instance, Clorox wipes. They are generally safe to use, but like every other cleaner with an acidic signature, they can damage the sealer on granite countertops and lead to etching. So, instead of those, how about… soap. Yep. Soap. Wood tables and other surfaces will also be damaged by anything acidic–even mild acids like vinegar which can be used in other places. So, instead, how about… soap. Some sources swear by using ammonia, bleach, or hydrogen peroxide to disinfect children’s toys. But, considering how many of those toys are going to be put straight back in kid’s mouths, we’d definitely recommend SOAP. 

Soap is going to kill the vast majority of bacteria and viruses in your home without putting you in any danger or damaging your skin, clothes, or household. So, slay the safe way with soap. Consider your bleaches, your ammonia, your foaming cleansers and everything else to be the “thermonuclear” option if and only if soap and water isn’t cutting it. 

To wrap this up, please be careful. There’s a lot of bad advice out there and, with the advent of AI, it’s not even always coming from humans anymore. We think these three, common sense tips will help you steer clear of the very real dangers of some chemical cleaners while still leading a healthy life. Stay safe!

three rules for chemical safety

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