How do you store cleaning supplies safely?

Cleaning supplies, though useful, can also be dangerous if not stored properly. Many common household cleaners contain harsh chemicals that are harmful if ingested or inhaled. Storing cleaning products incorrectly can lead to accidental poisoning, chemical burns, or fires. By following safe storage guidelines, you can keep your home clean and avoid potential hazards. This article will provide tips on how to properly organize and stow away your cleaning products to protect your family and home.

Keep Cleaners Locked Up and Out of Reach of Children

One of the most important rules of safe storage is to keep all cleaning products locked up and completely out of reach of children. Young kids are curious and will often explore bottles and containers they find under sinks or in cabinets. Avoid temptation and accidents by keeping cleaners somewhere secure.

Use safety latches or child-proof locks on all your cleaning supply cabinets. Install the locks up high, out of a child’s sight and reach. If you have a closet where you keep your brooms, mops, and cleaning products, add a high deadbolt lock to the door. For cleaning supplies you use in high cabinets, consider purchasing cabinet locks. These small, inexpensive devices fasten to the sides of cabinet doors to keep them shut.

When you are actively using a cleaning product, never leave it unattended. Keep spray bottles and containers locked up immediately after you are done with them. Store any products within a toddler’s reach up high or locked away while cleaning. Accidents can happen in seconds while your head is turned. Erring on the side of caution prevents poisonings and chemical burns.

Keep Products in Their Original Containers

Another cardinal rule of safe storage is to never transfer cleaning products into food containers. This innocent act causes numerous accidental poisonings every year. People mistake chemical-filled bottles as food or drink. Using food jars, bottles, and boxes to hold cleaners is very dangerous, especially for children and the elderly. Always keep products in their original, properly labeled containers.

If you feel you must decant a cleaner into a smaller bottle for portability or convenience, label it very clearly. Write in permanent marker on duct tape or a sticker precisely what the chemical is. Include a warning label that the substance inside is not food or drink. However, this is not recommended. The best choice is to always store and use commercial cleaners in their original containers.

Keep Products in a Dry, Cool Area

Moisture and heat can adversely react with cleaning products. Store all household cleaners and chemicals in a cool, dry place in your home. Avoid placing them anywhere with exposure to sunlight, steaming pipes, stoves, or excessive warmth. A dry cellar, pantry, or linen closet are ideal storage spots. The laundry room is generally too damp and hot for safe chemical storage.

If you must keep cleaning supplies in your laundry room or another humid place, open windows regularly. Allow fresh air to circulate and dissipate moisture. You can also place products in a sealed plastic bin or tub to protect from condensation. Just be sure to keep the container out of direct sunlight. Storing cleaners properly in a dry, moderate climate helps prevent Leaks, spills, and noxious chemical interactions.

Store Chemicals Separately From Other Products

It is dangerous to store household chemicals beside or above other supplies, especially flammable, corrosive, or reactive compounds. Instead, designate an area just for cleaning products, away from foods, medicines, paint supplies, and hazardous workshop items. Place cleaners on lower shelves separate from unrelated products.

Do not store chemicals alphabetically on a shelf beside oils, waxes, matches, etc. Categorize products separately, with all the commercial cleaners together on their own shelf. This prevents cross-contamination and minimizes risk if a spill or leak occurs. Never allow chemicals to be above or leak onto other supplies, particularly combustibles like gasoline.

Keep Flammables Away From Ignition Sources

Solvents and cleaning products containing alcohol, bleach or ammonia are flammable. Store them well away from any source of flames or heat. Place these combustible cleaners in a cool, controlled access area. Avoid storing them under the kitchen or bathroom sink where you may be using electrical devices that spark.

To further reduce fire risk, never keep flammables in the same cabinet as oil-based paints, matches, fuse boxes or gas cans. If these items must be near each other, place a sturdy metal divider between them. Ideally, have a separate locked cabinet just for dangerous flammable cleaning chemicals marked “Caution: Flammable Materials.”

Segregate Incompatible Chemicals

Certain types of cleaning products should never be stored together because they can react and produce toxic fumes, fires, or explosions. These incompatible cleaners include:

  • Chlorine bleach and ammonia
  • Acids and bases
  • Oxidizers and flammables
  • Drain cleaner and toilet bowl cleaner

Always read product warning labels and separate incompatible chemicals on different shelves. Place acids like vinegar in one area, and bases like baking soda in another. Have one cabinet for chlorine bleach, and one for ammonia-based cleaners. Then if a spill occurs, the products won’t intermix. Proper segregation provides an added layer of safety for your home.

Use Stable, Non-Reactive Containers

Store harsh cleaning chemicals in high-quality containers designed specifically for them. Use only bottles, jugs, and cans meant for commercial, industrial chemical storage. Avoid old food jars, plastic fruit drink containers, or coffee cans that are thin or porous.

The best containers for household cleaners are:

  • Polyethylene plastic jugs and buckets
  • PVC bottles and containers
  • Stainless steel cans, drums, and boxes

Check that all bottles and caps are tightly sealed. Clean up any spills immediately to avoid container deterioration. Promptly dispose of any leaking bottles and replace them. Remember to always keep products in containers labeled for them, never food or drink bottles. Proper chemical storage containers greatly reduce accidents.

Mount Shelves Securely

When storing cleaning supplies on shelves, ensure they are solid and firmly mounted. Don’t overload or sagging metal shelves with too many heavy jugs or bottles. This can lead to tipping accidents and spilled chemicals. It’s ideal to use sturdy wooden or steel storage shelves secured to studs in the wall.

Before placing chemicals on a shelf, test it is level and reinforced. Bump or shake the shelf to confirm nothing wobbles or shakes loose. Avoid rickety wooden shelves or plastic systems that could collapse. Ensure all hardware and brackets are corrosion resistant to prevent any weak points. Take precautions to keep storage shelves in good condition for safely holding cleaning products.

Include Lipped Edges

For extra stability, look for shelving units with lipped edges. These have raised edges along the front and sides to prevent bottle tipping accidents. The lips catch items if they get nudged or shake loose. This added edge support is useful when storing spray cleaners and flammable chemicals you want to keep upright.

Also check shelves have adequate back support for the height and weight of products. Deep shelves should have center divider panels for bracing heavy items. Proper shelving with lipped edges and bracing provides strong, stable storage for hazardous cleaning chemicals.

Store Cleaning Tools Separately

In addition to the chemical products themselves, you also need safe storage for the tools and equipment used for cleaning. Keep mops, brooms, buckets, rags, gloves, scrub brushes and more separate from household cleaners and chemicals. Designate a different storage space just for cleaning tools.

Use a Caddy or Tote

For small homes, use a plastic tote or cleaning caddy to hold all tools like sponges, gloves, and spray bottles. Store just your active cleaning gear in the caddy, not chemicals. Keep it under the sink or in a hall closet. Use the caddy to transport tools from room to room as you clean. Then return it to the designated closet or cabinet.

Install Utility Hooks

Utility hooks on the wall provide handy, safe storage for dusters, mops, and brooms. Mount hooks in the laundry room, pantry, mudroom, or garage- wherever you store cleaning gear. Place utility hooks out of kids’ reach to prevent possible injuries from sharp bristles.

Space mops and brooms apart on hooks to allow air circulation. This prevents mildew or odors. Also shake out dust cloths and rags before hanging them up to dry. Proper use of utility hooks keeps cleaning tools organized, dry, and secure.

Use a Floor Bucket

For a multi-purpose cleaning bucket, get one with a built-in mop wringer. Fill the bucket with water only, no chemicals. After mopping, use the wringer to remove excess water then hang the mop to dry. Rinse and drain the bucket.

Let the bucket air dry completely before stowing away. Never mix cleaning chemicals into a utility bucket or leave them sitting inside. Always keep these wet, enclosed spaces chemical-free. Rinse buckets thoroughly after each use for safety. Air drying prevents mold or bacterial growth.

Read All Manufacturer Instructions

Before organizing and storing cleaning products, read all labels carefully. Chemicals have specific requirements for safe storage you must follow. Labels provide critical information like:

  • Ideal temperature range
  • Ventilation needs
  • Allowable materials for containers
  • Shelf life and expiration
  • Warning about chemical interactions or incompatibilities

Check label directions before transporting and storing any new cleaning chemical at home. Unscrew caps carefully for proper dispensing and measurement. Use all cleaning products only as instructed. Warning labels are there for your safety- be sure to heed them. Store chemicals only according to the manufacturer’s directions.

Check Expiration Dates

Many household cleaners have expiration dates after which chemical stability declines. As products age, they can become unpredictable in potency and reactivity. Check expiration or “use by” dates on all bottles before shelving them.

Safely dispose of any expired cleaners as recommended on the label. Never store old chemicals past their use date. When getting new products, place them behind current bottles so the older ones get used first. Rotate stock to keep your cleaning supplies fresh and stable. Proper dating helps prevent accidents.

Note Special Warnings

Certain chemicals like bleach have very specific storage instructions you must follow. For example, chlorine bleach can decompose if exposed to sunlight, heat, or metal contamination. Always check special label warnings before storing hazardous cleaners like bleach.

Other products may require you shake them periodically, keep them away from open flames, or avoid freezing temperatures. Be sure to read the fine print on warning labels before shelving any new chemical. Special notes indicate proper conditions for safe household storage.

Practice General Safety Measures

In addition to methods for organizing cleaning products, also adhere to some overall safety practices:

  • Wear gloves and safety goggles when handling chemicals.
  • Work in a well-ventilated area.
  • Never mix cleaners together unless specifically directed.
  • Avoid contact between chemicals and your skin or eyes.
  • Never transfer products into food or drink containers.
  • Keep chemicals locked up and completely out of reach of children.

Proper protective equipment and safety awareness prevents accidents when using and storing powerful cleaning agents. Exercise caution and common sense when dealing with any commercial cleaners.

Keep Emergency Numbers Handy

Keep phone numbers handy for your local poison control center and emergency services. This allows you to call quickly for help in case of ingestion, inhalation, or a serious chemical spill. Program the numbers into your home and cell phones for fast access.

Also make note of any relevant health information like medications, allergies, and pre-existing conditions. This aids poison control and doctors with possible treatment. Being prepared with emergency numbers provides vital response time in a crisis.

Have a Fire Extinguisher Available

Given the flammable nature of many cleaning products, keep a fire extinguisher readily available. Maintain an ABC-type dry chemical extinguisher designed for multi-purpose home fires. Make sure it is easily accessible from your cleaning storage area.

Check the extinguisher monthly to ensure it is fully pressurized and functional. Provide annual maintenance. An operational fire extinguisher is a crucial backup precaution for a home with chemicals. It could prevent a minor mishap from becoming a major house fire.

In Case of a Spill

If a cleaning chemical does get spilled in your home, follow safety precautions:

  • Put on gloves, eye protection, and breathing mask if available.
  • Contain the spill using absorbent materials like kitty litter or rags.
  • Neutralize and clean the area thoroughly.
  • Safely dispose of any contaminate materials.
  • If fumes are present, evacuate the home and call emergency services.

Have a plan to deal with spills safely without spreading hazardous chemicals in your home. Remember- never mix spilled chemicals together or use water on corrosive spills. Refer to product warning labels for proper spill cleanup methods.

Sign Up for Safety Alerts

Stay current on new and updated safety information for cleaning chemicals and storage. Sign up for consumer alerts through, the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website. Report any incidents involving household cleaners or unsafe products. Staying informed helps improve storage methods and prevent potential accidents.


Storing cleaning supplies correctly is a key home safety measure. Always keep chemicals locked away, completely out of reach of children. Follow manufacturer storage instructions exactly. Place products in a cool, dry, stable area separated from other categories of materials. Use proper protective equipment and take safety precautions when handling cleaning agents. Appropriate chemical storage can help make your home a healthy, accident-free environment for your family.

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