Cleaners and disinfectants

Risks associated with cleaners

Many cleaners contain substances that are harmful to the environment and our health. These substances may have an irritant or harmful effect. As far as health is concerned, the effects on the skin are a major concern. Strong acids can cause burns. There are also products that can lead to respiratory problems.

In practice, the effects of cleaners and exposure to them tend to be underestimated. If, however, a cleaner contains a certain concentration of a dangerous substance, the cleaner itself also qualifies as a dangerous substance. Therefore, you should preferably consult the dangerous substances register before purchasing, in order to gain an insight into the harmful effect of the cleaning agent.

Definition of dangerous substances.

Which cleaners

Cleaning agents that are widely used in hospitals are those that are used by the cleaning services and those that are used in the cleaning equipment.

When cleaning also requires disinfecting, then bleach, a staphylex-chlorine solution or a 70% alcohol solution is often used. Specific disinfectants such as glutaraldehyde are used by in the sterilisation unit.

Risk reduction

Below you will find a number of important measures:

  • If possible, use less harmful alternatives. Consult the dangerous substances register for help;
  • If necessary, make an appointment with the hospital hygienist for disinfection;
  • Draw up a work instruction (in another language if necessary) and keep it with the product. • Deliver the cleaners in a ready-to-use form as much as possible;
  • Add cleaner to the water, instead of water to the cleaner, you need to dilute the cleaner;
  • Read the label before use;
  • When cleaning, be careful with mixing different agents for use. Some products react with each other, which can produce a toxic vapour (especially in combination with chlorine);
  • Preferably use cleaners in containers of less than 10 litres;
  • Prevent inhalation by aerosol formation (do not atomise);
  • Avoid direct contact with the skin;
  • Use personal protective equipment;
  • Absorbents should be close at hand so that spills can be cleaned up quickly;
  • Place cleaning products containing dangerous substances in a drip tray.


Because of their disinfecting effect, working with disinfectants requires extra caution, so please observe the following rules:

  • Use disinfectants only with the permission of the Hospital Hygiene and Infection Prevention Department;
  • Ensure that there is sufficient ventilation and, if necessary, good extraction.

Mandatory registrations

Under the Surface Water Pollution Act, all disinfectants that can be discharged must be registered and reported to the Water Board.


Many disinfectants qualify as pesticides. These products may only be used if they have been authorised by the Dutch Board for the Authorisation of Plant Protection Products and Biocides (Ctgb) and if they are used in accordance with the prescribed procedure.

More information

For more information about disinfectants, please contact the hospital hygienist. For information about personal protective equipment and ventilation, please contact your OHS advisor.