Having bleach at home is a very powerful way of eradicating germs and disinfecting areas. But it comes with many safety warnings too. In the unfortunate event of skin contact or ingestion, here’s your guide on what to do in an emergency and how to use this powerful product safely.
What is bleach?
Bleach contains sodium hydrochloride, which is a powerful and highly corrosive chemical that kills bacteria. Because it’s so effective at killing germs, neutralising odours and disinfecting surfaces, you can find it in many powerful cleaning agents made for toilets – like the products from Domestos. It can also be added to washes to whiten clothes and make stains look as if they’ve disappeared.
What happens in the case of skin or eye contact with bleach?
Bleach can cause severe burns on skin and damage eyesight if it comes into contact with those areas. If this happens to you, the first thing to do is rinse the affected area immediately with plenty of clean water and then speak to your doctor.
If exposed to high concentrations of bleach with no access to water, seek medical attention immediately.
What happens if you drink bleach?
Drinking bleach burns the oesophagus and gastro-intestinal organs, which can lead to excruciating pain and internal damage. If ingested, rinse out your mouth and seek immediate medical attention. Don’t attempt to induce vomiting as this can worsen existing burns or symptoms. Bleach poisoning can cause death in some cases, so remember to store these products safely – especially if you have children or animals at home.
Tips for using bleach safely
While the side effects of ingesting and touching bleach can be alarming, accidents are rare and are easy to avoid. By following these safety tips, you can reduce the chance of bleach accidents:
- Always use gloves to protect your hands when disinfecting an area with bleach
- Keep bleach cleaners locked away or out of reach of young children
- Use bleach in a well-ventilated area as the fumes can cause headaches and watery eyes. Wear face mask to stop you inhaling the fumes.
- Never mix bleach with any other chemicals as it can release a toxic gas
- Always use a low concentration of bleach – stick to the recommended quantities at the back of the bottle and always use the product as directed by the manufacturer
- Rinse areas that have been disinfected with bleach with water thoroughly afterwards so that there is no residue left behind
As long as you follow the precautions laid out on the label, bleach is a safe and effective cleaning agent to have around the house. Remember to always seek medical advice after drinking bleach or getting it on exposed skin.