Kids Health Matters: Using safer cleaning products

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Household cleaning products are good at cutting germs, but the chemicals can be dangerous if kids get hold of them.

Household products are the second most common group of poisons ingested by kids every year.

Blair Thornley, of Children's Hospital Poison Control Center, says it can even happen with parents close at hand.

"They take their eyes off of them for a second, and kids are into it," said Thornley.

Bath and kitchen cleaners often have lye or sulfuric acid, which cause burns.

Spray furniture polish can be inhaled.

"It can easily slip down into the lungs and cause pneumonia-like symptoms," added Thornley.

Thornley says you can make your own cleaner with safer ingredients, like baking soda, vinegar, and olive oil.

"This is an all-purpose cleaner I mixed up this morning with 4 tablespoons of baking soda and one quart of water," she said.

It's good for appliances, counters and cabinets.

Baking soda is also great in the bathroom.

Thornley says, "Sprinkle it on the tub and tile surfaces to use as a scouring powder. And then soak your sponge in full-strength vinegar, and use that to scrub."

Or try three parts olive oil and one part vinegar - not for a salad, but to polish furniture.

Thornley says homemade cleaners are safer, but you still need to keep track of what you're using.

"Label it carefully with the name of the product, as well as the ingredients and the concentration of the ingredients that are in there," says Thornley.

And keep every cleaning product out of the reach of children, preferably in a locked cabinet.

Some, like laundry packets, shouldn't be used at all in homes with small children.

If there is an accident, call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 immediately.

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