Is your cleaner your child’s killer?

Lurking beneath your kitchen sink is something sinister; the products we welcome into our homes may be silently waiting to kill. Children are attracted to the pleasant smells emitted by the products and find easy access to chemicals due to storage in accessible locations and containers that are easily opened. In NSW every year there are nearly 500 hundred children admitted to hospital due to consuming chemicals found in the home. These include corrosive substances and flammable liquids, both of which may result in disastrous consequences if consumed.

Take a look under your sink and consider whether you really do need all those chemicals. Do you? Read the labels – this might sound obvious, but there is so much information on a label to assist you. Labels must clearly state the product name and some basic but valuable data such as precautions for handling, storage and first aid measures. Looking for the distinctive coloured diamond, which will generally be red or white, carefully group each of your chemicals by the relevant type. If there’s no diamond, you’re not out of danger yet. Look for any other warnings, such as ‘POISON’. These should guide your decision as to whether to keep them, dispose of them or find a better storage solution.

Check which ones you want to keep or throw out. For the ones you are going to keep, make sure the label is clear, the packaging is in good condition and that the container can be sealed; tightly and securely. Ensuring the storage location is secure and appropriate is important too and should be decided upon by reading the label for guidance and considering who needs to access them. For information regarding the safe use, storage and disposal, contact the manufacturer or the Poisons information hotline on 13 11 26 (Australia wide – never closes). Now, are you ready to dispense justice in the kitchen?


Children’s Hospital Westmead. (2014). Poison safety. Retrieved from 19/08/2014.
Franklin, P. (2008) Household chemicals: good housekeeping or occupational hazard? European Respiratory Journal (pp. 489-491), Volume 31. doi: 10.1183/09031936.00170207
Bunge, Merri. (1985) Chemical Hazards in the Household: What Every Community Health Nurse Should Know. Journal of Community Nursing (pp.31-40), Volume 2.

This post was contributed by Mark for the subject Screening and Monitoring in Occupational Health and Safety 

One comment

  1. I have started with the laundry cupboard. the comment about what do you really need struck a cord…I found a quarter of the chemicals were ones I didn’t want or use. They’re gone.

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