Everyone loves a clean home, but have you ever wondered what’s in those cleaning products? When people view what we accept, many are surprised to find that common cleaning products, especially heavy-duty cleaners, should not be disposed of at home and need to be brought in. Learn more about why certain cleaning products are hazardous, how to safely use them, and what to do when they are all used up.
How do Cleaning Products Clean?
Cleaning product chemicals come in three major categories, though some may contain multiple types. Surfactants like soap reduce the surface tension in water and suspend dirt and oils in it. Alone, these are the mildest of the products, like dish soap. Solvents are used to dissolve oils and grease, such as denatured alcohol or acetone. These should be used in well-ventilated areas and are often flammable. Alkalis and Acids are at either end of the pH scale, and both can be corrosively strong. The further up or down the scale, the more caution that should be used.
Read the Warning Labels of “Heavy Duty” Cleaners
Many products that are listed as aggressive cleaners often contain chemicals that, while tough on stains, are also tough on exposed skin. Always read the warning labels and wear productive gear accordingly. In particular, use the following products with caution:
- Drain Cleaners: These products often use high alkaline or acidity to break down clogs in drains, especially hair and soap. They may contain sodium or potassium hydroxide, or sulfuric acid.
- Carpet Cleaners: These products, often sold as foams, can contain powerful solvents and bleaching chemicals and can be present on carpets for hours before they dry.
- Muriatic (Hydrochloric) Acid: Handle any products containing either name with care. Only use in well-ventilated areas with acid-resistant gloves, eye protection, and long-sleeved clothing.
Avoid Combining Cleaning Products, Including Accidently
While many of the above cleaning products can be unpleasant or even toxic when misused, some products can become very hazardous when mixed. For example, bleach and ammonia are present separately in many cleaning products, but when combined from both chlorine and phosgene gas, deadly in high concentrations. Avoid using multiple cleaning products on the same area before thoroughly cleaning with water and letting dry, and always work in a well-ventilated space.
If you have cleaning products that you no longer use or are empty containers, make sure to read the labels for disposal. We accept many kinds of cleaning chemicals; see our full listing here. Make more of your trip by bringing in the other products you no longer use, old eWaste like CRT monitors, and other household hazardous waste, then bring it to one of our collection centers or contact us for pickup. Household hazardous waste shouldn’t be difficult!