I'm a cleaning expert – the hidden meaning behind symbols on your cleaning products and why you shouldn't ignore them | The Sun

IT SEEMS that everybody on social media is a cleaning expert these days.

But one common mistake made online is mixing different cleaning products together – which can not only damage your home but can also prove dangerous for you and your family.

Most cleaning products have COSHH warnings on them and we know it can get confusing to know what each one means.

Fabulous speaks to two cleaning experts to reveal their hidden meanings and why you should never ignore them or mix products together.

Karl Huckerby, a cleaning expert from Spare and Square said: "The symbols on the back of the majority of household cleaning products are also known as hazard symbols, and are designed to warn the user about the potential hazards of using the product.

"Of course, these products are still safe to use, they just have to be used correctly and sensibly."


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The symbol which looks like a test tube being spilled onto the hand shows the product is corrosive and must always be handled with gloves and PPE.

Not only can it cause harm to humans says Huckerby but it can also corrode surfaces in the house – so make sure you check what it can be used on.

Items such as degreasers, mould remover and bleach spray are likely to have this symbol on the back.

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Flame and Flame with a circle

While they may appear the same to the untrained eye, these symbols mean two different things.

The flame symbol warns the item is flammable – something you will often find on the back of aerosol containers and should be kept away from heat or fire and cleaned up immediately if split to prevent a fire from occurring says Huckerby.

A flame with a circle indicates the product can oxidise he explains, meaning the chemical inside has the potential to ignite an exothermic reaction if brought into contact with another substance causing an explosion or fire.

Skull and crossbones

The skull and crossbones symbol indicates that the product you are using can be toxic, whether you use it in a large or small quantity saysHuckerby.

You'll often find this symbol on the back of harsh cleaners such as oven cleaner.

Olivia Young, Astonish’s Cleaning Chemist explains why it's important to never mix chemicals – as they can prove harmful, or even fatal.

She reveals: "The nature of different household products can vary i.e a bathroom cleaner tends to be acidic to effectively remove limescale, whilst bleach-containing products are alkaline to help stabilise the bleach.

"Different cleaning products should not be mixed as the ingredients within or the chemical properties of the different products can react with one another creating harmful chemicals."


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Exploding bomb

As the symbol already suggests, cleaning products such as insect spray with this symbol means it can explode says the cleaning whizz.

Storing cleaning products with this symbol under the right conditions is vital to prevent a harmful accident.

Serious health hazard

While it may look like a stickman version of Iron Man, this symbol needs to be taken extremely seriously.

Huckerby explains this symbol can cause serious issues such as damage to organs, may lead to death if ingested and may damage fertility amongst other negative impacts. if inhaled or swallowed.

Exclamation mark

An exclamation mark screams for your attention and for good reason – the chemical inside the cleaner can have a negative effect on your health.

The cleaning expert adds: "There are a few different things that this symbol is a warning of, including: can cause skin irritation, may damage public health by causing damage in the ozone layer, can cause respiratory irritation."

Gas cylinder

The gas cylinder symbol means exactly what it says on the tin – the product contains a gas that is under pressure.

Fish and tree

While it might sound a bit random to put a picture of a fish and tree on the back of a cleaning item, there's a very good reason for it.

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The cleaning expert reveals this symbol means the chemicals inside are harmful to the environment.

He adds that any cleaning product with this symbol should not be poured outside.

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