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A clean house is awesome but accidental poisoning is not

A green bucket that is filled with materials for a safer cleaning kit.

Let’s take a deep breath and have a talk about cleaning, disinfecting, and staying safe.

With more people using cleaning products during the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s been an increase in accidental poisonings in Washington state. The Washington Poison Center reported a 23% increase in calls about accidental poisonings from cleaners compared to this time period last year.

There has also been some misinformation circulating, so we want to make it clear: When using a cleaner or disinfectant, always follow the product’s directions and never apply these products to yourself or others.

Here are some other safety tips:

Don’t ingest cleaners or disinfectant products.

This includes putting it on your food. Ingesting these products can seriously harm you. Even mild exposure to cleaning and disinfectant products can cause eye or skin irritation, headaches, and other health problems.

Never mix products.

Some cleaners, especially ammonia and bleach, form a toxic gas when mixed.

Clean before you disinfect.

Wash surfaces with soap and water before disinfecting. Cleaning removes germs. Disinfecting kills germs. You can’t disinfect a dirty surface. So you need to do both.

Use an EPA-registered disinfectant.

Check the label to see if the product has an EPA registration. Read the product label and follow instructions for safe disinfectant use

Clean it twice.

After leaving the disinfectant on for the time recommended, wipe down surfaces again with soap and water to clean them.

Use gloves when cleaning and disinfecting and wash your hands after.

Wearing gloves and washing your hands before and after cleaning and disinfecting will protect you from exposure to chemicals and the germs you are trying to kill.

For more information about the novel coronavirus, check out Seattle & King County Public Health’s frequently updated COVID-19 webpage.


This post is cross-posted on Public Health Insider.

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