All of us have household hazardous materials such as cleaners, oils or aerosols in our homes that require special precautions when using, storing or disposing of them. HHMs may pose serious fire, health or environmental hazards. To minimize risks associated with HHM products, read and follow product labels.
When Using HHMs
- Follow safety precautions listed on the label. It may recommend wearing gloves, goggles or using the product with ventilation.
- Read the label for directions on using the product. Use the product only as intended, as it can be dangerous to use a product incorrectly.
- Look for first aid instructions on the label; they may vary for each product according to their ingredients.
- Put cleaning products away immediately after removing the amount needed for the cleaning job at hand. This will limit accessibility to young children and pets, and will help prevent accidental spills.
- Have a plan to handle small spills of household hazardous materials. Keep emergency numbers next to the phone, including the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.
- Properly close all containers.
- Mix cleaning products. Products which are safe when used alone can sometimes become dangerous if mixed with other products. As an example, avoid mixing products containing liquid household bleach (sodium hypochlorite) with products containing ammonia or acids. Such mixtures can release hazardous gases.
- Reuse an empty household cleaning product container for another purpose. Many HHMs look like sports drinks or Kool Aid and if stored without a label in a different bottle could be mistaken for a beverage.
- Use more product than recommended. Follow the product label use guidelines. Using more than the recommended amount will not perform better and may produce harmful fumes.
When Storing HHMs
- Store all containers out of the reach of children and pets.
- Store cleaning products in their original containers, keeping the original labels intact.
- Store HHMs away from heat, flame or sources of ignition in a well ventilated area.
- Refer to label for storage instructions. Most cleaning products have long shelf lives and can be stored until they can be used.
- Store cleaning products in a container that once contained a food or beverage. A child may mistakenly eat or drink it. Many HHMs look similar to sports drinks or soft drink type beverages. Even a small amount can pose significant risks.
- Store cleaning products near food products as they could spill or leak and contaminate food.
- Store flammable liquids or gasses in the home near heat or spark sources (charcoal lighter or propane cylinders).