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How to store cleaning products safely

Knowing how to store cleaning products is an important way to keep your house safe and hygienic. Find out where cleaning chemicals should be stored in this guide for safe and easy storage.

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So, the house is clean, your cleaning products did the trick, and now it’s time to put them away until next time (which always comes too soon!). But where should cleaning chemicals be stored? It’s not always as simple as putting them in a cupboard and walking away – there are various factor to think about. Luckily, this handy guide is here to help explain how to store cleaning products to keep you and your household safe.

Key Steps

  1. Always read the ingredients list before using any product and use products as directed on the label. The instructions are there for your safety.

  2. Know what different ingredients are used for and whether they can be harmful - keep reading to learn more about this.

  3. Avoid mixing products together. Some cleaners are perfectly safe to use but can produce toxic gasses if mixed with other chemicals.

  4. Use their original containers.

  5. Keep them locked away and out of reach from children and pets. If you think anyone may have ingested bleach by accident, call a doctor immediately. Read more about bleach poisoning in our guide.

Identifying toxic products

The definition of non-toxic is ‘not poisonous or toxic’, however, there is no standard for labelling products as such! Therefore, the expression has very little meaning in terms of consistency or accuracy. In this article, you’ll find information on some ingredients that are regularly identified as ‘toxic’.

Keep cleaning products in a space that’s cool, clean, and dry.

Are cleaning products harmful?

Not all cleaning products will be as ‘toxic’ or harmful as others – it really depends on the products you buy and the ingredients in them. Below we’ve listed some ingredients to look out for. While they’re often referred to as harmful chemicals in household products, in reality, they are effective, well-controlled tools for sanitation!

  1. Phosphates

    these compounds are derived from phosphorous, a naturally occurring mineral present in every phase of life. When the mineral combines with oxygen (which, thankfully, there is plenty of on this planet!), phosphates are the result. In terms of cleaning products, phosphates were used in many laundry detergents until we figured out that an excess of them in the water waste from laundry all over the world contributes to causing algae blooms ­– not as pretty as it sounds, but more on that here. As a result, phosphates have been banned in the UK and are only present in environmentally friendly forms or replaced entirely.

  2. Phthalates

    pronounced “thah-lates” (we had to look it up, too), this family of chemicals can be present in the packaging of household cleaning products. Phthalates have an impressive ability to both toughen and add flexibility to plastic, making it safer to transport and store your favourite so-called harmful chemicals. Phthalates are not an active ingredient in the product itself. Read more about this fun word in our Ingredient FAQ.

  3. Chlorine

    this ingredient is a key component in household bleach. The active ingredient is sodium hypochlorite – the ‘chlorite’ bit at the end there indicates chlorine is part of the compound! Bleach is an incredibly effective (read more here) part of hygiene all over the world, but if it is used incorrectly, it can be harmful.

    As such, no product containing bleach can be labelled as non-toxic, but that does not mean it is guaranteed to cause harm so long as the label is read and the instructions for use are followed! Better yet, bleach has a low impact on the environment because its chemical composition allows it to break down almost entirely in water. So keep those toilets, showers, and sinks clean (we like Domestos bleach) without fear of the bleachy products going down the drain!

  4. Sodium lauryl sulphate

    otherwise known as SLS (or a slightly different variation called SLES), is an ingredient in your household products that causes foaming action! SLS is a surfactant: a ‘surface active agent’. The compound acts as a catalyst for water when it comes to breaking down fats and oils in the wash or on a countertop. The most common forms of SLS have a low impact on the environment, but there are variations in use that can cause problems. When you’re purchasing cleaning products, keep an eye out for products from reputable and environmentally friendly companies. Cif is a great example of responsible SLS use.

But, should I have these chemicals in my home?

We all want the best products when it comes to keeping your home clean and safe for your family to live in; there is nothing more important. Many times, this results in researching non-toxic and eco-friendly products in an effort to revolutionise the way we clean.

We always encourage gathering as much information as possible because well-informed use is better than using a product because someone says you should. In terms of non-toxic products, the most important lesson is that ‘non-toxic’ is not an accredited label! With the information provided in this article to better understand ingredients and a commitment to using products according to their instructions, your home can be clean and non-toxic, on your terms.

For more information on the ingredients in products mentioned in this tip, visit What’s in Unilever Products here.

Cleaning product storage – made simple!

Information on the proper storage of cleaning products (especially laundry detergent storage) is always a topic worth researching, especially if you have young children or pets in your home. The key steps to remember are as follows.

  1. Read the recommended storage instructions on the label

    We promise the brand knows their products best! Ensure any storage space you choose is cool, clean, and dry.

  2. Close the product properly after use

    Keep all products in their original container.

  3. In general, keep products on a shelf high enough that a child or pets can't reach

    You shouldn’t have to risk the container falling on you when you need them next.

  4. Consider installing a child safety latch regardless of shelf height

    If you store your products in an open space (such as the garage), secure them in a box or shelf under lock and key. You never know what kids will discover when they’re playing!

Where should cleaning chemicals be stored in a kitchen?

Here are a couple of things to think about:

  1. Keep away from food items

    Keeping your cleaning products separate from food items is essential to prevent spills and contamination. For a guide on what to do if bleach is digested and other bleach emergencies, click here.

  2. Keep out of reach of little ones and pets

    Keeping bleach and other potentially hazardous substances out of reach of little hands and paws is essential for household safety.

  3. Keep out of sunlight and heat

    When asking yourself ‘where should cleaning supplies and chemicals be stored in my home?’, it’s important to think about what will be around the chemicals, such as hot pipes or windows. Keeping products away from ignition sources is very important for household safety.

How concerned are you about disinfecting while cleaning?

Where should cleaning chemicals be stored in a kitchen: Item guide

  • Dishwasher Tablets – It’s natural to keep dishwasher tablets very near to the dishwasher. This usually results in an under-the-sink number, which is good because this area meets the suggested storage environment i.e. cool and dry (assuming you have trustworthy pipes under there!). On the other hand, this low area is a prime place for children and pets to explore, so install a latch and take any other precautions necessary to keep them safe.

  • Bleach – If you find yourself researching how to store bleach in particular, you will note that it is especially important to ensure the container is sealed and clean. You should never be able to smell a product while it‘s in storage.

How to store bathroom cleaning supplies

As when answering ‘Where should cleaning chemicals be stored in a kitchen’, when it comes to knowing how to store bathroom cleaning supplies, it’s important to keep any chemicals and nasties away from little fingers or paws. And remember to keep cleaning products away from any personal care items – you definitely do not want to mix up your face cream with a surface cleaner!

How to store cleaning supplies: Clothes washing

  • Fabric Conditioner – This product is especially prone to thickening when it’s stored in very hot or cold temperatures – not ideal! Be sure to not only read, but also heed the instructions on the product to ensure you are able to make use of it! Even consistently great products like Comfort need proper storage treatment for best results.

  • Laundry Detergent – Detergent comes in a variety of containers in the form of plastic bottles, boxes, and cardboard alike. The container the product came in has taken a number of elements into consideration so you don’t have to! For example, you can take a look at the various containers Surf comes in and you’ll realise that none of them are see-through! While the design of these products may not exactly match your laundry room aesthetic, it is never a good idea to transfer the product into a more ‘stylish’ container like a glass jar or jug. Always keep your washing powder in its original box.

How long can bleach be stored?

Cleaning chemicals should be stored for no longer than six months and this includes bleach. Bleach becomes 20% less effective every year and starts to degrade after six months, so if you want a truly effective clean, replace your products after six months.

Don’t forget…

The next time you take your products out of your cool, clean, and dry storage, remember to protect yourself as well as you protect your children and pets from these products. Follow the instructions on the label, take precautions, and stay alert when children, pets, and cleaning products are involved.

Originally published