ATLANTA - When you are tackling a tough mess, you want a tough cleaner. The more firepower, the better, right?
Maybe not, says the director of the Georgia Poison Center.
"The household cleaners is the number one call we get here,” Says Gaylord Lopez, PharmD. "About 25 percent of our calls are about household cleaners."
Gaylord Lopez says a common problem, people combine products, hoping to create a more powerful cleaner.
"And these products can run from cleaners that have a higher pH, to products like drain openers, that can certainly burn and can kill," says Lopez.
And Lopez says they're increasingly getting calls about people bringing home cleaning products from work, and getting into trouble with them.
"They're double and triple the concentration, and we're using these products as if they were the commercial-grade products," explains Lopez.
The wrong mix can have fatal consequences. Early this month at a Burlington, Massachusetts Buffalo Wild Wings, the manager died and 10 others were hospitalized after an employee accidentally combined two common cleaning products on the kitchen floor, triggering toxic fumes.
Safety experts warn never mix products like bleach with ammonia, or vinegar, or even rubbing alcohol. And never use two drain openers at the same time, or even back to back.
"The most common place where we see mixing of chemicals is in tight, enclosed places like bathrooms," warns Lopez.
So, how can you clean smarter?
"Number one, pop open a window, having circulating air. That would be great," says Lopez. "Two, make sure you properly read instructions on these products because they'll tell you, for the most part, on safe handling and safe use."
And Lopez says, never mix chemicals together, and if you have a problem, call them.
"The time to call the poison center is immediately following the event. Don't wait for signs and symptoms to occur.”