Chemicals are found in most households worldwide. We often use them to clean our homes, cars, lawns, and more! However, most people don’t even think about safely storing chemicals at home for everyday use.
Children and pets always seem to get into weird hiding places. Unfortunately, some of those places may be where these chemicals are stored in your house. To avoid causing any potential injuries, here are some of our best tips for safely storing chemicals at home. We’ve also included ways to identify these hazardous products, as well as how to dispose of them safely.
Defining Hazardous Chemicals
It would probably be easier to identify all unknown substances as “hazardous chemicals.” It’s still essential to ensure that everybody knows what that means. A substance is considered hazardous when it falls under one of these categories:
- Ignitability: how flammable it can be in certain circumstances (ex. used solvents)
- Corrosivity: the ability to corrode metal containers (ex. battery acid)
- Reactivity: unstable under “normal” conditions, which could lead to explosions or violent reactions (ex. explosives)
- Toxicity: can be lethal if misused (ex. containing mercury)
In addition, chemicals can also be identified by various symbols, provided you still have the original packaging.
Tips on Safely Storing Chemicals at Home
Many of us are guilty of coming home from the grocery store and dumping everything into the pantry without bothering to see if they should all be there. Luckily, we have a handy guide to help you out.
Here are some tips to help organize and safely store your chemicals.
Read the Safety Label
While browsing the grocery store, make it a habit to read labels, especially for cleaning products. They’re there to provide instructions on how to use the product properly, how to store it, and what to do in an emergency.
Some products have added safety elements that discourage pets and children from ingesting them.
Keep Away From Children and Pets
Children and pets are notorious for getting into spaces where they shouldn’t be, like under the sink. It seems logical that the best place to put household cleaning items would be under the sink. It is below your waist and, therefore, in the pet/children zone.
It would be better if the cupboard was somewhere dry, well-ventilated, and also at eye level. This way, you won’t have to strain to see the labels. Plus, it’s out of the reach of curious little hands.
If there are no other options, ensure the designated cupboard has a reliable lock.
Store Away From Sunlight
Say you’ve found the right cupboard. Yet, the cabinet door tends to open at random times of the day. At first, you don’t think it’s a big deal since it’s out of reach for your kids or pet. However, you soon realize this cabinet directly faces the window over the sink with all the sunlight pouring in.
Unfortunately, sunlight can affect the efficacy of your cleaner and render it useless if exposed long enough. It can also damage the container to the point of cracking, resulting in spills and leaks in your cupboard.
Minimize Chemicals at Home
Unless you’re a cleaning service that needs an inventory of gallons and gallons of toilet cleaner, it’s more practical to only have essential cleaning supplies on hand. This way, you can track what needs to be replenished and what needs to be replaced.
It’s never fun mistaking insect repellant with air freshener. That’s why it’s good practice to label everything.
The label should also include the category and symbols identifying that particular chemical. It should be easy to read and somewhat waterproof in case of leaks.
Regularly Check for Leaks
It’s always good practice to check for leaks, especially for solutions you rarely use. Even if they’re not corrosive, some substances deteriorate their containers over time. You never know.
Safely Using Hazardous Chemicals
Overlooking proper storage is something most of us overlook. Sometimes we rush to clean something up and forget that these are dangerous, possibly toxic, substances. Yet, you never manage to follow safety protocols when using these chemicals.
To safeguard you and your family, take a look at these safety guidelines for dealing with hazardous chemicals:
- PPE should always be the first thing worn when dealing with chemicals
- The space you’re working in should be well-ventilated
- Avoid mixing substances unless the label explicitly tells you to do so
- Clean up any leftover products or spills as they occur
- If you come in contact with any hazardous substance, immediately rinse with water
Safely Disposing of Household Chemicals
After reading about how to use and store chemicals at home safely, it’s now time to learn the correct way to dispose of these hazardous chemicals. For starters, never pour any fluids down the drain. That will damage your pipes, not to mention the environment.
As for the containers, look for a more eco-friendly way of removing them instead of throwing them out with your regular trash. Your local recycling centre would be an excellent place to start looking. If not, they should be able to point you in the direction of the right people. Make sure to research each company that you’re dealing with. Just because they say they recycle everything doesn’t mean they don’t produce waste either.
Hazardous chemicals are part of everyday life and are difficult to avoid. Identifying them by their category or label helps to know the best way to use them. In addition, you also have to safely store chemicals at home and dispose of them properly once you’re done with them.
Even though hazardous chemicals can be intimidating, following these guidelines can make using them more manageable. So, if you have a commercial cleaning business or enjoy cleaning, this guide is a good starting point for working with toxic substances.