Poison Prevention Week – Homemade Green Cleaner Safety

It’s Poison Prevention Week 2010 and part of this week’s campaign is focused on the safety of household cleaning products. Sadly, Poison Prevention, the organization behind the event references Clean and Safe in the 21st Century (pdf) as the guide to have if you’re concerned about household cleaner safety.

Clean and Safe is a guide created by the The Soap and Detergent Association (SDA), an organization who sort of frowns on homemade cleaners. SDA notes, “When consumers purchase commercial cleaning products, they bring home not only a mixture of ingredients, but years of the manufacturer’s experience and expertise on the safe and effective use of each product.” However, what they’re not talking about are all those chemicals and other icky ingredients you find in conventional cleaners. That’s funny, because ironically many conventional cleaners are full of poison – yes stuff that will harm or even kill you. Of course, what else would you expect from SDA – it is their job to promote conventional cleaning companies.

Now that said, the one decent thing I’ve seen from SDA are their tips surrounding using homemade cleaners safely. While I don’t agree with their ideal that commercial cleaners are the best and safest bet, I do like their tips about how to safely mix and use homemade cleaners.

If you make homemade green cleaners; and for safety’s sake I hope you do, you should follow these tips from SDA…

Check with manufacturers of the individual ingredients to see if they recommend the mixture, or if there are any hazards associated with using their products in this manner. This is more if you use an ingredient such as Borax, natural soap, or an essential oil. Of course you’re not going to check with your local grocer to make sure lemons are safe to clean the toilet with (they are).

Never use empty cleaning product bottles to mix your own cleaning products. Not only could a reaction occur with any product residue, but the commercial product label will not reflect information about the mix-at-home contents and may cause confusion or mistreatment in an emergency situation. I suggest purchasing a set of plain old reusable spray bottles for homemade cleaners. You should also label clearly, such as, “Homemade Lavender Oil & Natural Soap Bathroom Spray.”

Never store mix-at-home products in food containers. The contents could be mistaken for food by young children, the elderly and people with impaired vision. This is a great tip. It’s smart to reuse containers, but it’s never smart to use food containers for cleaners because little kids will get into everything.

A few tips from me…

Always check that no one in your home has an allergic reaction to an essential oil or herb before you use it in a cleaning product. These are natural ingredients, but natural does not mean safe for everyone.

Keep all cleaning products out of reach of children – even natural cleaners pose a risk if a small child gets his hands on them. If you buy conventional cleaners, store-bought green cleaners, or make natural homemade cleaners, it doesn’t matter – keep them away from the kids.

While cleaning, keep an eye on the kids. Part of green cleaning is using water for many cleaning endeavors; say a bucket of water for washing windows. Water is a huge danger to small children. Your child can drown in as little as a few inches of water and he can drown quickly (in less than one minute). NEVER leave a bucket or tub of water in the room with a child.

Do you have any other homemade cleaning safety tips to share?

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  1. [...] 9. Using enough household toxins to sink a ship: Most families use conventional bath products and 100% toxic cleaning products. This is not healthy for the earth or your child. Learn about non-toxic bath products and clean green. [...]

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