Concentrated Household Cleaners

Be careful when working with concentrated cleaning agents, especially various types of acids which are effective but can potentially be toxic.

There are many different kinds of household cleaners available these days. In fact, it is hard to keep track of which cleaner to use and which one not to use. Here are a few tips to keep in mind, along with a few safety precautions to take when using potentially hazardous cleaners.

An important type of useful cleaner is the kind with an acid base. Acetic acid is a mild deliming rinsing agent for alkaline cleaners. Clear white vinegar is a simpler version of acidic cleaning and is best for general household cleaning on surfaces that can tolerate a strong, acidic product. Citric or lemon juice is another natural substance used as an acid spotter, and mild bleach is used in the removal of many kinds of stains. But be careful not to leave metal in or near this substance. It could tarnish it.

Phosphoric acid. is a bowl cleaner and tub and tile cleaner. It is very mild, but it still works quite well on most types of bathroom stains. Hydrochloric acid can be used as a bowl cleaner, as well as for cleaning mortar spills off of new bricks and etching floors before sealing them. But this product eats cotton and rayon, dissolves cement and mortar and is very corrosive to metals. It is also poisonous, so don't get it on your skin.

Sulfuric acid is a strong drain cleaner. It also is a powerful oxidizer. However, it attacks nylon, vinyl, and most organic substances. It will burn the skin and emit dangerous fumes. Be sure to use it with caution. Store in a safe place away from other chemicals or heat, and definitely keep it away from children or pets.

Hydrofluoric acid is a commercial rust remover that will burn the skin. Keep this one away from glass windows or glass products. Oxalic acid is a bleaching agent that will remove rust stains. Like many others it also is poisonous, so make sure to keep pets away while using this product.

Aerosol cleaners have focused accuracy and can reach places that are hard to get to. Instead of making up a bucket of water and detergent, all you have to do is spray it on the dirty spots, and use a sponge to wipe it off. You can buy spray bottles and fill them with your own cleaner to keep on hand and save money. Make sure you label the bottle so you know what kind of cleaner is inside.

Alkaline cleaners are common. They help clean food spills, oils, grease, and everyday things that get dirty. They come in soaps, detergents, and all-purpose cleaners.

Ammonia is added to a number of household and commercial cleaners to boost their alkalinity and enhance grease-cutting ability. It dries clear and won't usually streak. Ammonia also is found in glass cleaners and cleaners for shiny surfaces, like wax cleaners. An effective cleaning agent, ammonia's odor is the main deterrent to its use. Too much of it can ruin or damage some surfaces, so use it with caution. Never mix chlorine and bleach products, which can release a highly toxic gas. For that matter, never mix any kind of chemicals which can cause an unstable reaction and perhaps fumes, fire, or volatility.

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