I wanted to give you guys a snippet of the new course I created on indoor air pollution: Homemade Pollution. It shows the methods for the control of indoor air pollution. I wrote 13 chapters on simple and natural air pollution removal strategies for your home. It’s a hot topic right now and many people still don’t know about the causes and effects of air pollution on the body.
If you’re curious, you can get more details at aircleansingcourse.com. I figured it made sense to give you a sample of the course, with this chapter being dedicated to the storage of household chemicals. Not only is it a strong health and safety matter, but proper storage means you and your family won’t be affected by evaporation of the volatile compounds leading to air pollution. You’ll become educated on indoor air pollution and may find yourself wanting to learn more with this quiz I created.
Control of indoor air pollution with chemical management
Did you know the federal government in the United States hasn’t made it
a legal requirement for chemical manufacturing companies to state on the
label their full ingredient list? They could be hiding compounds that will
produce unfavourable results, and certainly plausible they can be fatal if
swallowed by children.
Naturally, this chapter will have some crossover with chemical safety in the
home and not just the air pollution side of it. Besides, I’m a health and safety
engineer by trade, so I just can’t help myself. It’s my duty! And I think this is
important. For instance, if you dispose of household chemicals improperly,
you run the risk of exposing them to your pets and kids. Perhaps the
chemicals will leak out and evaporate, leading to harmful inhalation side
effects anyway. Many household chemicals are rather volatile and will readily
evaporate to release harmful aerosols, especially when lids aren’t securely
There’s a large increase in atopic allergies (asthma, sinusitis,
dermatitis, etc.) nowadays due to our environment and lifestyle. It’s certainly
not genetic, because that would be way too quick for these alterations; I’m
just talking about post-WWII. And there’s an interesting concept called the
It talks about how large increases in sanitary standards and far less time outdoors has to lead to a decreased immunity to allergens that trigger asthma, food, hay fever, etc. We aren’t behaving like our pre-historic ancestors and running around the fields and forests, getting that essential exposure when we’re young. Meaning, when we do get exposed to,
say a pollen allergen later in life, our body hasn’t adapted and sees it as a
threat. It triggers an adverse defensive reaction. That’s pretty much what an
allergic reaction is. We are, essentially, victims of our modern society.
And what’s making matters worse? Traffic-related air pollution and indoor air
pollution, specifically your household chemicals. We don’t want to make
things worse, so let’s fix what we can before the cleaning products trigger a
In this chapter, we’ll look at the best areas to store your chemicals and why.
Also, adopt best practice when handling them to eliminate unnecessary
exposure to finding safer, natural products. Now if you’ve recently bought
some household chemicals, that’s okay. I’m not suggesting you instantly
chuck them out, and that’s why we have a chapter on storage and proper
handling. Essentially, we’ll create a phase-out plan so that once you’ve
finished with the chemicals, we can look for natural substitutes.
Where is the best place to store?
I guess a lot of people (myself included) forget that hazardous chemicals are
all around us in our home: bleach, oven cleaner, paint, oils, weedkillers,
batteries, etc. The average household contains 15-45 litres of chemicals after
all, and they need somewhere safe to reside. I made a short video that walks
you through the steps, but a key thing is to always check the use-by-date.
When you do a ‘spring clean’ of your chemicals, you’ll probably find some
you’ve not used in years…
Chances are, they’ll be out of date and no longer effective and you’ll want to
dispose of them accordingly (see the last section). Yet for the ones in date,
it’s always best to read the label and/or do a quick Google search for the
exact name of your cleaning product. Find out the simple storage directions
and if there are compatibility issues. Meaning, don’t store 2 chemicals
adjacent to one another that could cause a harmful chemical reaction.
The best places to store chemicals in your home:
For example, don’t ever store flammables beside a heat source (e.g. boilers
and radiators), keep acids away from alkali s, medicines and pesticides in a
cool place, and pool/hot tub chemicals away from fuel. Moreover, the best
place to store your chemicals is in the garage or garden shed. But I know we
all don’t have one of these; you may live in a flat. In which case, put your
chemicals into plastic containers and store under the kitchen sink.
Once you’ve got this setup, make a little time for a visual inspection here and there
of the area. For example, are the hinges on the doors of the kitchen cabinet in
good condition, or is there a leak in the piping draining away from the sink?
Perhaps the shelves of your garage cabinet are sagging in the middle a little
too much. It’s important to take action before there is a structural failure.
I think it goes without saying, but keep away from the kids and pets…
This is why a garage or shed is the optimal setting. They’re safely tucked
away from curious creatures. But if we need to store under the kitchen sink,
don’t panic because we can purchase a simple lock. These will normally come
in packs so you can put on a whole bunch of drawers, costing around 10
pounds/dollars. I’d recommend the pack of 8 by LifenC – they get a lot of great
One good thing about kitchen sink storage is you’re keeping the chemicals
near the ground. You never want to store chemicals at or above eye level, for
the obvious reason being if it spills when you go to reach it, your face could be
doused in chemicals.
Best practices for handling & control of indoor air pollution
Do not mix chemicals, unless the labelling clearly states to do so. A common
enough mixing direction is to dilute the chemical with water. Now decanting
can be risky business, so be careful. When you’re mixing with water, always
pour the chemical(s) into the water and not the other way around. This is to
avoid a splashback of chemicals; you’d rather a splashback of water, that’s for
Besides, when you do need to mix with water, make sure it’s cold water
because adding to hot water increases the risk of explosion. But never decant
chemicals into containers that may be used for food or that are unlabelled.
Most of the original packaging is fit for purpose, but an example could be
buying soap powder in large quantities. You could transfer to clip-top jars or
plastic containers but always make sure to relabel.
If the label tells you to wear PPE (personal protective equipment) then do it.
Heck, even if it doesn’t I’d say it’s best practice to do so anyway. A pair of
reusable silicone cleaning gloves and a pair of safety glasses is all you need. After you’re finished cleaning, wash your hands with warm water and
What can we replace?
Okay, so you were reluctant to get rid of your in-date cleaning products, but
you followed best practice and they’re all finished. But instead of making a
repeat purchase, you’ve decided to go green, sustainable and play it
safe. How sensible of you!
But first of all, I want to show you how to safely dispose of out-of-date
and unwanted chemicals. We are certainly not putting them down the
drain, toilet or in your municipal bins. These chemicals require special
How to find your local chemical disposal facility:
Okay, so let’s split this into two parts:
1. Cleaning constituents/ingredients
2. The formulas (just like a chemist)
- Unscented soap in liquid form, bars, flakes and powders
- Cornstarch – great for windows, rug/carpet cleaning and a furniture
- Lemon juice – strong with regards to food acid that’ll kill bacteria
- Backing soda
- Olive oil and vegetable oil – an effective wood polish
- Hydrogen peroxide – similar anti-bacterial properties to lemon juice, plus it’s good for stain removal in clothes
- White vinegar – excellent for stains and odours
And the best part is we can safely blend these products to make our cleaning
But if you don’t feel like creating your natural cleaning concoctions, I
have a great alternative. Eartheasy has an online store filled with pre-made
household cleaning products, which are 100% safe.
Control of indoor air pollution with…
1. Jack-of-all-trades – mix ½ cup of vinegar with ½ cup of baking soda
and 2 litres of water. This is great for windows, countertops, shower
doors, bathroom and kitchen floors, etc.
2. Jack-of-all-trades 2 – do a 50/50 split of white vinegar and water in a
spray bottle and apply directly to the surface, allowing it to rest for a
few minutes. Then use warm soapy water (unscented) and brush
thoroughly. You can add a little lemon juice for an enhanced smell if
3. Air fresheners – there’s a lot of natural foods you can use instead of
buying actual physical products. For example, a slice of lemon ground
up in the bin masks the smell of the garbage. Simmering water
with cinnamon or other spices in the pan makes for an amazing scent.
Honestly, no chemical air freshener comes close here! And there are
fragrant dried herbs, which can be used as potpourri
4. Carpet freshener – grab one of your favourite essential oils, apply
10-20 drops to baking powder, then sprinkle liberally on the carpet.
Leave for a few hours before vacuuming, and I guarantee your place
will smell as fresh as a daisy
5. Chopping boards – rub a slice of lemon onto it before washing down
with warm soapy water
6. Clothing stains – mix equal parts hydrogen peroxide with water. But
just do a quick spot test first. Meaning, test it on a small area of the
fabric before tackling the whole stain
7. Kettle cleaning – mix a ¼ cup of vinegar with 2 cups of water inside
the kettle and bring to the boil. Rinse out thoroughly with water before
you make a fresh cuppa
8. Kitchen countertops – mixing vinegar and water inside a spray bottle
is all you need here guys. But if you have a granite or marble counter,
then use a non-perfume soap instead of the vinegar
9. Disinfectant – mix ¼ teaspoon of castile soap, 4 tablespoons of
vinegar and 3 cups of water
10. Drain cleaner – pour ½ cup of baking soda down the drain followed by
half a cup of vinegar. Allow 15 minutes to pass before pouring boiling
water down, but only do this if you’ve got metal piping. If it’s plastic, you
make cause structural damage so heat the water but don’t boil.
Also, just remember that vinegar can react with cleaning chemicals, so
if you’ve used an unnatural one in the last day or two, hold off on this
natural process for an extra couple of days
And there you have it. In this day and age, it doesn’t take much to trigger
peoples allergies and cleaning chemicals will do just that. We’ve looked at
best practices for storing, handling of chemicals and their disposal. Plus, if
you want to get rid of the vast majority of them, create your own with simple
ingredients you’ll probably already have in your home.
If you’d like to check out the entire course for control of indoor air pollution, click here. Evaporation of stored chemicals is only a small part of the pollution sources.