Cleaning products exposure calls to poison information hotlines have increased by 20 percent since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Most of us are home a lot more than we used to be, and we’re cleaning it a lot more than we used to.  Many of the products we are using can be toxic—even deadly—if not used correctly.  Here are some tips to be germ free AND safe.

Bleach—NEVER mix bleach with any other cleaning products.  The fumes it can create are potentially deadly.  Always use bleach in a well ventilated area and avoid breathing in the toxic fumes.  Effective cleaning with bleach doesn’t take much—5 tablespoons to a gallon, or 4 teaspoons to a quart of water.

Lysol—Never spray Lysol on yourself, others, or your pets.  Do not spray it on or near food.  It’s made to be used on hard surfaces.  You can use it on your child’s toys, but rinse well with water afterwards.

Disinfecting Wipes—Wipes contain chemicals that are registered pesticides and hazardous to young children.  Compounds called QACs (quaternary ammonium compounds) combine ammonia with other chemicals and can cause eye, skin, or upper respiratory problems.  Other ingredients have been shown to cause asthma.  Avoid using in areas where small children frequent or play.

Hydrogen Peroxide—most people don’t realize that hydrogen peroxide in a 3-6% solution makes a great disinfectant.  Safer than many other cleaners you can spray it full strength on hard surfaces and allow to bubble away for about 5 minutes. You can use it as a soak for thermometers, toothbrushes, retainers, toys, sponges, etc. You can wipe out your refrigerator and use it on food preparation surfaces as it’s non-toxic. Just spray on, let it sit then wipe or rinse the surface off after you use it.  Remember though, never mix peroxide with bleach or vinegar.  Peroxide can damage some surfaces, so test it out in an inconspicuous spot first.

No matter which cleaner you use, read and follow the safety instructions.  Do not mix cleaning products, and rinse surfaces with clear water after using.  If you feel dizzy, nauseous or light headed when using a product, get fresh air immediately.  If you have a severe reaction, contact Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222.