Cleaning chemicals help clean, degrease, sanitize, and disinfect surfaces. Degreasers remove water-insoluble substances from floors, machinery, parts, and tools. Surface disinfectants and sanitizers reduce the amount of germs and keep them from spreading on clean surfaces. Dilution control systems dilute and mix concentrated chemicals. Calcium, rust, and lime removers remove stains and mineral deposits. Specialized cleaning chemicals are available for removing or treating mold, mildew, adhesives, graffiti, furniture, carpets, hard floors, metal and stone, and pools and spas.
What toxic chemicals do you purchase for a particular cleaning job? The answer is not an easy one unless you know what ingredients commercial products contain. The most common ingredients in household cleaning products include alkalies, acids, detergents, abrasives, sanitizers, and spirit solvents.
Potentially dangerous chemicals can be found in every room in your home. If not properly stored or used, these products could cause minor to serious and even life-threatening health problems for you or your children.
What are these every day household chemicals? Let’s take a tour of the rooms of your home and discover what some of these chemicals are and what health harms they may cause.
Keep in mind that most household cleaning products and pesticides are reasonably safe when used as directed, and that the level of toxicity of a product is dependent on the dose of the product used (never use more than the amount listed on the label) and the length of exposure to the product.ACIDS
Acids are beneficial in removing hard-water deposits, discoloration from aluminum, brass, bronze, and copper and iron rust stains. Strong acids also eat away clothing, leather, skin and some metals. They can also irritate and injure the skin and eyes.ALKALIES
Alkalies are soluble salts that are effective in removing dirt without excessive rubbing. They are good grease removers because the alkalies form an emulsion, a mixture where oily or solid particles are held in suspension. The particles do not separate from the rest of the liquid; therefore, they are not redeposited on the surface being cleaned.BLEACHES
Chlorine generally is the most common bleach used in household cleaning products. However, new non-chlorine bleaches are becoming more popular, mainly because they are safer to use and store.DETERGENTS
Some laundry detergents may be used for housecleaning jobs. Detergents loosen dirt, and if complex soluble phosphates (called “builders”) are added to a detergent, they will remove oily dirt. If a builder is added, the cleaning product is marked “heavy duty” or “all-purpose.”SANITIZERS
Sanitizers are chemicals that reduce the number of bacteria and often are used in cleaning bathrooms and washing dishes.
Use with caution and follow the directions on the bottle.
Sanitizers also help deodorize surfaces because they kill odor-producing microorganisms.
Most polishes and waxes for wood furniture and floors contain a spirit solvent. These solvents are similar to the fluids used in dry-cleaning processes because they remove oily dirt.MAKING A CLEANER
By making your own household cleaners, you can save money and control the amount of hazardous chemicals in your home.