Domestic bleach and its uses
Have you checked the labels of the cleaning products in your home recently? If you haven’t you should definitely take a closer look!
You’d be surprised just how many of them list bleach as an ingredient. And while bleach is mostly harmless if used with caution, there are time when it can be dangerous, especially if you’re unaware of its presence in your favourite cleaning products.
To make sure you stay safe, use gloves, wash your hands and make sure any solution containing bleach doesn’t come into contact with your skin or eyes. That’s easy enough if you know bleach is an ingredient in the product, but if you’re not aware of that then you’re much less likely to take the special precautions.
This becomes an even greater problem if you have small children or keep pets. As all pet owners know, convincing your cat or dog to temporarily avoid a given area can sometimes be nigh impossible. That’s why it’s important to always know exactly what’s in the products you’re buying. Manufacturers are already required to list all ingredients on their labelling – so it really is as easy as just reading what’s on them.
Cleaning with bleach
While we don’t recommend using bleach, due to the risks to both you and the environment, it’s also fair to say that it can be quite the powerful disinfectant when handled carefully. If you’re absolutely set on using it, these tips will help you stay safe.
- Wear gloves – You want to make sure your skin doesn’t get exposed to bleach – it’s the number one rule about cleaning with any solution, and it holds true here as well. Prolonged exposure of the skin to bleach can cause serious tissue damage. For your best protection, I would recommend Marigold Kitchen Gloves.
- Wear goggles – That will help you ensure no bleach gets in your eyes. Even the smallest drop of bleach in your eyes can cause serious pain and irritation, and at worst there is the risk of permanent damage. If any bleach gets into your eyes, stop whatever you are doing and rinse your eyes. Additional first aid must then be administered immediately as appropriate to prevent long-term damage. We would also advise seeking medical assistance as soon as possible.
- Do not take deep breaths around bleach – Always use bleach in well-ventilated areas and avoid mixing it with other solutions at all costs. There can be very serious complications from allowing bleach to get into your lungs, with respiratory burns a possible risk.
Even though our skin can’t absorb chlorine, it can still affect us. and in high enough quantities, bleach in the bloodstream can be extremely toxic. And as I’ve already said, bleach on your skin can lead to a multitude of allergic reactions and other complications.
Following exposure to bleach, the accepted medical advice is to devote at least 15-20 minutes to rinsing the area with clean water. If you get bleach on your clothing, you should remove the clothing immediately, taking care not touch the affected area without the protection of rubber gloves. Should no skin irritation follow after rinsing, you don’t need to seek professional assistance, although it can still be a wise precaution.
Getting bleach into your eyes is much more dangerous, just because our eyes are more sensitive and not equipped to deal with environmental hazards. The eyes can suffer irreparable damage if not treated immediately and bleach is capable of causing permanent damage to the nerves and tissues that make up our eyes.
Accompanied by intense pain and burning sensations, a dangerous chemical process will begin that can cause vision damage or even permanent blindness if left untreated.
If bleach gets into your eyes, you should immediately remove any contact lenses as well as makeup and rinse the eyes thoroughly. Even after you clean them yourself, you should still get in touch with your doctor as quickly as possible seek medical advice. Even then, the full effect of bleach in the eyes may not be completely clear for 24 hours.
Always be careful to keep children, pets and other family members away from areas where bleach is being used.
How to protect your pets from bleach
Bleach is just as dangerous for cats, dogs and other animals as it is for humans. While not considered a corrosive agent for animals, household bleach can still cause a lot of irritations and pain to your furry friends. Sometimes, if you react quickly enough and the exposure is mild, you can deal with the situation at home and on your own. If your pets get exposed to highly concentrated bleach, however, you should seek professional assistance immediately.
So, how do you protect your pets from getting in contact with the substance? You need to always take precautions.
- Never leave the bucket out of your sight while you are cleaning – you don’t want your dog drinking from a bucket filled with bleach!
- Make sure the door is safely closed or, where children are present, locked – while it’s easier to keep children away from danger areas, making sure your pets avoid certain areas of the house for a set period of time can often be impossible.
- Make sure to carefully rinse everything after you are done with the cleaning process – remember that pets (just like small babies and small children) have the tendency to lick, bite or play with anything they come across.
If you suspect your pets have come in contact with bleach despite your efforts, you should consult a veterinary professional immediately.
But while we know there will always be people who will prefer to use bleach, our advice would be to minimise the risk to yourself, your family, pets and the environment and look into safer, more eco-friendly alternatives. I’ve outlined some tips and tricks on how to approach minimalism – have a read here.