Cleaning agents are liquids, powders, or sprays used to get rid of dirt and dust on a variety of surfaces. The chemicals within these cleaning products make them work – the effectiveness results from chemical reactions. The more intense the chemical action is the less you have to wipe, brush, or scrub.
However legal obligations strictly define cleaning operations including the storage of chemicals. So, where should cleaning chemicals be stored? Find out more here…
Chemical Cleaners Overview
When you know your chemicals, you’ll be more aware of the harmful ingredients they may contain. Some products release dangerous substances that can contribute to chronic respiratory disorders, allergic reactions, and headaches.
Fragranced fresheners may contain chemicals that are detrimental to health so consider using essential oils or opening windows. Multi-purpose cleaners often contain powerful solvents that can cause sore throats when inhaled – try making your own cleaners with baking soda or white vinegar.
Ammonia found in polishing agents can affect people with asthma and lung problems, and chlorine used in mildew removers can affect the thyroid gland. Sodium hydroxide – an ingredient found in oven cleaners – can cause sore throats, runny eyes, and burns.
Look at some safety advice for specific products within the home and work environment…
Home Cleaning Products
It’s always a good idea to check the recommended storage instructions on the manufacturer’s label. See a range of household chemical cleaners and how to store them below:
Bleach –make sure that the container is cleaned and properly sealed if you can smell the product the seal isn’t tight enough.
Dishwasher tablets – need to be kept cool and dry and locked away to keep children and pets safe.
Fabric conditioner and softener – extremes of temperature will cause thickening and the product will need to be disposed of, so keep in a cool room – don’t use if it causes skin irritation of any kind.
Remember that buckets, cloths, and rubber gloves used during your clean will need to be thoroughly cleaned and dried before storing safely in a lockable cupboard or cabinet – essential if you have young children and pets.
Chemical Cleaners Use at Work
An effective strict chemical safety programme will ensure that cleaning chemicals are handled and stored properly in the workplace. This should include:
- A comprehensive list of all cleaning chemicals used on the premises
- A safety data sheet for each individual cleaning product – this is a legal requirement associated with a chemical and gives handling, first aid, and emergency data
- Cleaning products that are clearly labelled
Safety signage with signal words on containers that warn of:
- Caution – the product is relatively safe but should be used cautiously
- Warning – the product is moderately toxic
- Danger – the product is highly dangerous and may cause permanent damage to eyes and skin
Safe Storage for Cleaning Chemicals
Improper storage of cleaning chemicals can be very dangerous, so finding the right place is extremely important. Chemical storage regulations in the UK define specifications regarding storing in a:
- Clean, dry, and cool space – some cleaning chemicals can react adversely when temperatures fluctuate or there are high levels of humidity
- Well-ventilated area – away from any vents as this can help prevent the spreading of any fumes
- Shelving area that has plenty of space – this avoids the risk of containers falling over
- Storage area that’s no higher than eye-level and never on the top shelf
- Place where there are no ignition sources such as sunlight, heat, or flames
Other guidelines cover:
- Keeping chemical cleaners in original containers – with clear labelling from manufacturers that’s permanent and cannot be washed off or defaced
- Storing corrosives in a separate area from other substances to prevent toxic reactions
Using Cleaning Chemicals Correctly
Many cleaning agents are corrosive and flammable and pose a potential risk to the user. It’s vital that training is given so you know what to do in an emergency. You should:
- Wear protective clothing when dispensing and using chemicals, including eye protection, helmets, and gloves
- Use the chemical appropriately and be aware of what to do when exposed or when an explosion of fire occurs
- Only dispense chemicals into portable containers in a well-ventilated area
- Ensure all containers are clearly labelled with the correct signage
- Keep containers secure when not in use, away from food areas and ignition sources