Not-so-clear warnings with glass cleaners

March 2, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
More than $150 million worth of glass cleaners were sold in 2007. But how safe are these cleaners around children and pets? Unfortunately, poison control centers get thousands of calls a year regarding glass cleaners. When ABC7 teamed up with Consumer Reports, we found out that only a few glass cleaners provide warnings on their products.

"My child loves to touch everything and we have a lot of windows," said mother Katherine Keeble. "We have a lot of mirrors in the house, so I'm constantly breaking out the glass cleaner."

Certain concentrated cleaning products are required to have warning labels on the outside of the container. However, glass cleaners are not. Some companies do include safety information on their bottles. However, it's on the back of the front label. So you might have to peer around a bar-code sticker, through the plastic bottle and through colored liquid in order to read it.

"Many glass cleaners are roughly 90 percent water, but some contain ammonia or other potentially toxic ingredients, which cause nausea or vomiting if you ingest enough of them," said Dan DiClerico, Consumer Reports.

Glass cleaners accounted for more than 9,000 calls to poison control centers during a recent year, which topped the number of calls for more toxic drain cleaners.

"When the parents call, they're usually quite frantic," said toxicologist Tom Caraccio. "They're concerned because the child is upset. They're usually crying. Their eyes are irritated."

Some glass cleaners, like Earth Friendly and Seventh Generation, do label safety information on the back of their bottles. So why don't all cleaners do that?

"An industry insider I spoke with said it probably comes down to cost -- a bottom line decision. One label simply costs less than two," said DiClerico.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers recommends keeping cleaning products in their original containers to help avoid accidents. If your child does accidentally ingest glass cleaner, make sure you call the poison control center right away.


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