You’re looking to stay safe during the COVID-19 crisis, and are likely doing your best to follow the latest guidelines. That’s why it’s OK if you’re confused about how to properly use bleach or disinfectants. You wouldn’t be alone. A new study from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says about 1 in 3 adults used disinfectants and chemicals in an unsafe manner—sometimes even knowingly—in order to fight coronavirus.
Some put disinfectants or cleaning products on their skin. Others inhaled them. Others gargled them. Others even ingested them. Some people cleaned their fruits and vegetables with them (when regular tap water would do just fine).
Do not do any of these things. The CDC reports in a new warning: “These practices pose a risk of severe tissue damage and corrosive injury and should be strictly avoided.”
Here’s Who Drank Bleach or Disinfectant
“Among the respondents, 25% say they suffered from the misuse of the cleaners with 11% having nose or sinus irritation; 8% had skin irritation; 8% had eye irritation, 8% reported dizziness, lightheadedness or headache; 6% had an upset stomach or nausea and 6% had breathing problems,” reports Forbes. “The median age of participants was 46 with 52% female; 63% white, 16% Hispanic, 12% black and 8% multiracial or other race. They represented all U.S. census regions with 38% from the South, 24% from the West, 21% from the Midwest and 18% from the Northeast.”
This isn’t the first time disinfectants made the news. In April, calls to poison centers spiked after President Donald Trump wondered if disinfectants could be used to help patients. “And then I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute,” he said at a news conference. “One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning?” The answer from experts was a firm no.
What Happens if You Drink Bleach or Disinfectant
The geniuses at How Stuff Works broke down what would happen if you guzzled bleach: “You’re in for a world of hurt,” they report. “Symptoms range from gagging, pain and irritation in the mouth and throat; pain and possible burns in the esophagus and stomach; vomiting; and shock can appear right away to within a few hours. If you don’t treat the symptoms immediately, you can permanently damage your gastrointestinal tract and internal organs—and, depending on how much you drink, you could die.”
Says the CDC about how to prevent that from happening: “Public messaging should continue to emphasize evidence-based, safe cleaning and disinfection practices to prevent SARS-CoV-2 transmission in households, including hand hygiene and cleaning and disinfection of high-touch surfaces.”
They urge you to:
- Always read instructions
- Wear protective gear
- Do not mix chemicals
If you or anyone you know has ingested disinfectant or bleach, call the American Association of Poison Control Centers at 800-222-1222 or dial 911.
As for yourself: To get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these Things You Should Never Do During the Coronavirus Pandemic.