How to clear up hazardous spills

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Freshly cleaned bathrooms, nourishing cooking oil, insect sprays and vibrant paints help make your home liveable. But when they’re spilt they can spell disaster for your home and even for you. Stay safe from fume inhalation, skin damage and the risk of falls by managing product spills quickly and effectively with these top tips.

Cooking oil spills

Olive oil, avocado oil and rice bran oil are all trendy at the moment thanks to the wellness trend, but trendy or not, oil spills can be dangerous. When any type of oil escapes the pan it can be make your floor excessively slick making you slip and fall even from just a few drops. Oil spills become even more frustrating when you try to clean them, with the oil smudging and sliding, rather than lifting off your floor or carpet.

Start by removing as much oil as possible by placing two layers of paper towel over the spill to absorb the excess. Next, use an absorbent sponge to wipe away any lingering oil. If you stop there, your floor will still have a slick coat of oil, so go one step further and use a powerful grease-fighting dishwashing liquid and sponge or mop to completely clean the area. Let it dry, then feel free to re-use the area as normal.

Chemical-based cleaning product spills

The satisfaction of cleaning your home, and inhaling that fresh, invigorating scent of cleaning product on glistening tiles is unbeatable. This satisfaction can quickly change to distress when your product spills onto the tiles, onto your carpet or even onto yourself. As most cleaning products are designed to be rinsed off surfaces. Leaving them sitting on any surface, particularly your skin can be dangerous and corrosive.

Not only do cleaning products make tiles slippery, they can also emit dangerous fumes that can damage your respiratory system. If you notice a spill on your tiles or hard floor, absorb the spill with paper towel as soon as possible, and leave the room’s windows and doors open to allow air flow. If you notice a spill onto carpet or soft flooring, lightly rinse the area with cold water, then absorb the spill with an absorbent cloth and tea towel.

If you spill cleaning product on yourself, always put the area of skin under running water to completely rinse the spill away. Completely dry the area and leave it exposed until the skin is dry. Avoid applying moisturiser to the skin as it can lock in any lingering particles of the product.

Paint spills

Paint spills are less dangerous to you, but far more difficult to clean than many other spills as the paint can start to dry. If you’ve spilt acrylic paint on your floor while working on your next masterpiece, no worries! Water will dilute the paint, so wet the area with water and use an absorbent sponge to soak it up. You may need detergent to mobilise the paint if it has started to dry.

If you’ve been on a DIY mission and you’ve spilt oil-based house paint, cleaning this will be trickier and you have to act straight away. Look for mineral turpentine; the clear strong-smelling ‘terps’ will work quickly to move the paint and you can slowly wipe it up with paper towel. If you’ve spilt paint on your carpet, use as little turpentine as possible so you don’t ruin the integrity and soft-feel of your carpet.

If your spill involves house paint and turpentine just won’t clean it, you may need to use paint stripper on the area. If you have floorboards though, it can discolour them so only use paint stripper as a last resort.

Pesticide spray and liquid spills

Most pesticides are bought in spray cans, but other options encased in plastic or pellet form can lead to spills if tipped over or punctured. Pesticides contain nasty chemicals that act on an insect’s nervous system to kill them, making them dangerous for both you and your pets. Make sure you clean up these spills as soon as possible to avoid exposure to you and your household.

Always use rubber gloves when you’re cleaning up a pesticide spill to avoid contact with your skin, and use a disposable cloth, such as a Chux, to wipe up the pesticide. If you’ve spilled pellets, spend time looking for any that may have slipped under cabinets, and vacuum the area to ensure no pellets remain, causing potential danger to your kids or pets.

If you spill chemicals, oil, paint or pesticide at home, don’t panic. Use the handy tips above to act quickly and manage the spill before it gets out of control and causes damage.

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