How do I know the cleaning products I use are safe?

Cleaning products are chemicals and so are covered by the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (see our Chemicals section).

Many cleaning chemicals are health hazards because they are corrosive, and can burn both your eyes and skin. Some cleaning products can also cause breathing problems if oversprayed or sprayed onto hot surfaces.

Labelling and safety data sheets

Cleaning products should come – and be kept – in properly labelled containers. The label gives you important information about the hazards of the substance, for example if it is toxic or likely to cause skin burns or allergic reactions. The product should also be accompanied by a safety data sheet, which gives you more detail about a substance's hazards and the precautions you need to take. Your employer should keep copies of safety data sheets for the products you use, and should tell you how to use the products safely.

Use safer alternatives

Your employer should use the safest cleaning products available: if a less hazardous cleaner exists, the law says they should use it.

Information and training

You should also:

  • have received training and information about the products you use;
  • know where to get First Aid; and
  • know how to clear up spills.

Ventilation

The area you are cleaning should be well ventilated and your employer should provide you with protective equipment.

Safe storage

As well as using them safely, cleaning products should also be stored safely – away from light, heat, food and drink and members of the public (especially children).

Always wear gloves when using silver dip or other cleaning products. You should NOT wear latex gloves – they can cause serious allergies.

If you are worried that the chemicals you use at work might be making you ill, see your GP (see our Dealing with Doctors section), occupational health department or employer, and write it down in the accident book. You should also tell your union rep. If you are not yet a member of a trade union, browse our Union Finder tool to find the union most suited to your needs. 

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.