BUNZL Cleaning & Hygiene Supplies Blog

Dissolving the Dangerous Myths Around Safety in Cleaning

Like all other types of powerful chemicals, cleaning products can pose a degree of risk to the user if they’re used incorrectly, irresponsibly, or combined with other products that they really aren’t supposed to be combined with.

Myths of cleaning

A seemingly innocuous household cleaning product can soon become dangerous when not handled in the correct way, and false myths abound regarding the safe ways to use many different types of cleaning products, potentially putting the user and those around them at risk.
We’ll highlight just some of the most common cleaning myths, and fictions about cleaning products that we believe could be putting users in danger – because we firmly believe that whether you’re cleaning a household or a commercial environment, cleaning is never truly effective unless it’s safe too!

You can combine different cleaning products or cleaning chemicals to make an even more powerful cleaner

Not only is this myth about cleaning products mostly inaccurate, it’s also downright dangerous in some instances, so it’s time it was dispelled once and for all.

In an era where more and more individuals and businesses are addressing their responsibility to the environment, and attempting to use more environmentally-friendly cleaning products and biological cleaning products as part of their efforts, it’s not surprising that we’re seeing a rise in ‘homemade cleaning products’ that are touted as being more natural and better for the environment, yet still safe and effective.

One of the most common homemade cleaning solutions we have seen is white vinegar and baking soda, which are both fairly effective cleaning products in their own right depending on the application, but when combined they are all but useless. The end result of combining baking soda and vinegar is sodium acetate – in other words, water with a little salt, which will have little to no cleaning properties (but indeed be very kind to the environment).

However some suggestions for DIY cleaning products that we’ve seen are a far more worrying. You should never combine vinegar with bleach, which will release toxic chlorine and chloramine vapours, leaving you at risk of chemical burns to your eyes and lungs. Nor should you mix bleach with ammonia, which will release toxic chloramine vapours – and can even be explosive if ammonia is present in a large enough quantity.

So always read the labels of cleaning products to check the safe usage directions and CLP regulations, and rather than making your own cleaning products, choose the domestic or commercial cleaning products that are specially designed for the task in hand. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

It’s possible to clean without using chemicals at all

Unfortunately, there’s no truth in this statement at all. That’s because everything around us, from the air we breathe (carbon dioxide) to the water we drink (dihydrogen monoxide), is made of chemicals! So even if you clean using nothing but pure water, sorry, but that’s still chemicals you’re using.

There’s a popular belief that it’s possible to clean without using chemicals that are toxic, but what makes a chemical potentially toxic is the quantity in which it is present, the other chemicals that it is mixed with, and how it is used in application. However it’s true that there are many very powerful cleaning products on the market that pose a risk to the environment if they contaminate the water supply, which is why such a broad range of environmental cleaning products with milder chemicals or biodegradable solutions are available at Bunzl CHS to help you make a more responsible choice for your business.

The more of a cleaning product that you use, the more effective it will be

This myth is exactly that – a myth, that’s not necessarily dangerous, but can be very, very costly!

Commercial cleaning products are carefully labelled with usage directions that include dosage instructions which should be closely followed to ensure you use the products effectively. Using more of a cleaning product that is recommended is unlikely to make it more effective; instead you will likely leave a cleaning product residue behind that can collect yet more dirt and require you to clean all over again. Not to mention that you’re wasting your cleaning products unnecessarily.

You should clean acid-based stains with acid-based cleaners

False – because in order to clean a stain that is acidic or alkaline, it needs to be neutralised, using a cleaning solution that is on the opposite end of the pH scale.

As stains and dirt like oils and grease are acid-based, cleaning products that are designed to tackle them are alkaline. And of course alkaline stains or dirt like rust and limescale can only be budged with acidic cleaners.

Cleaning products on either end of the pH scale can be harmful when used, so no matter whether you’re using a strong acid or alkali cleaner, ensure you wear the appropriate PPE to protect yourself. Which brings us to one of our most favourite cleaning myths…

It’s not necessary to always wear PPE when handling cleaning products

PPE for working with cleaning products comes in many forms, from a simple pair of rubber gloves, to breathable protection coveralls when more powerful cleaning products are being used.

When working with cleaning products you should always wear appropriate protective clothing as directed by the label, even if that is just a pair of gloves to guard your hands from irritation and an apron to protect your clothes from splashes and stains. Our range of janitorial equipment includes a wide selection of gloves, protective clothing for cleaning, non-slip footwear, head, eye and ear protection, plus respiratory protection so no matter what the cleaning job in hand, you have no reason not to complete it safely.

Now that we’ve wiped away some of the most common myths about how to clean safely, why not take our quiz below to test your knowledge? You may learn a few other things too! Leave us a comment below to let us know your score, and don’t forget to share the quiz with your safety-conscious friends and colleagues too.

6 thoughts on “Dissolving the Dangerous Myths Around Safety in Cleaning