SafeWise Experts: Alison Gutterman Talks Cleaning Product Safety

Written by | Updated October 4, 2016

SW Expert Alison Gutterman

Reading labels is a smart way to ensure that everything you buy—from food to cars—is safe for you and your family. But which labels matter most when it comes to household products? We sat down with Alison Gutterman, the President/CEO of Jelmar Corp., to find out.

What does it mean when the EPA awards a cleaning product as an EPA Safer Choice? How did Jelmar receive this distinction?

The Safer Choice logo signifies that our product is safe for you, your family and the environment. In order to receive this distinction, our products passed a stringent criterion which included a review of our ingredients, product performance, pH, packaging and more. Once a product meets the Safer Choice Standard, the EPA conducts annual audits to ensure their stringent standards continue to be met.

Why is safety a concern for Jelmar?

As Jelmar is a family-owned business, family is of the utmost importance to us and we take the safety of the families that use our products very seriously. As such, we take pride in producing environmentally friendly products that are also family friendly. The majority of Jelmar’s products have been reformulated to be even safer for the environment and human health, which has earned us the EPA’s Design for the Environment seal which signifies safer chemistry of products.

How can parents and pet owners safeguard against accidental poisoning associated with cleaning products?

When working with cleaning products you should be especially mindful about working in close spaces. The following are helpful tips to keep in mind when working with household chemicals:

  • Always read the label before using a product that may be poisonous.
  • Keep chemical products in their original bottles or containers. Do not use food containers such as cups, bottles, or jars to store chemical products such as cleaning solutions or beauty products.
  • Never mix household products together. For example, mixing bleach and ammonia can result in toxic gasses.
  • Wear protective clothing (gloves, long sleeves, long pants, socks, shoes) if you spray pesticides or other chemicals.
  • Turn on the fan and open windows when using chemical products such as household cleaners.
  • When dealing with pets, keep containers safely stored, and always check to make sure you guard against spills that may be easily accessible to your pet.
  • Keep in mind that even small doses can be lethal to your pets.

What are some of the most harmful chemicals found in everyday cleaning products?

Chemicals can vary by cleaning products. As a rule of thumb, we advise our customers to always read the label of the products they use and to look for products that have been approved safe to use by third party organizations like the EPA’s Safe Choice Program.    

What should parent’s and pet owners do if a child or pet ingests a cleaning product or other poisonous material?

  • Remain calm.
  • Call 911 if you have a poison emergency and the victim has collapsed or is not breathing. If the victim is awake and alert, dial the Poison Prevention Hotline at 1-800-222-1222. Try to have this information ready:
  • The victim’s age and weight
  • The container if available
  • The time of the poison exposure
  • The address where the poisoning occurred
  • Stay on the phone and follow the instructions from the emergency operator or poison control center.
  • For pet concerns, you should call your veterinarian.
  • Are there any educational resources you suggest to help educate homeowners about accidental poisoning? Any organizations?

Whether you are at work or at home, you can never be too careful. To learn more about how to protect your loved ones from accidental poisoning you can visit or the Center for Disease Control and Prevention at

Anything else to add about Safer Choice products or accidental poisoning prevention?

Finding cleaning and other products that are safe for you, your family and the environment should be easy – that’s why we are proud of our Safer Choice label. Jelmar believes we all play a part in protecting our families’ health and the environment. As consumers, we can all do our part by using products with safer chemical ingredients whenever possible.

Written by Alyssa Baker

Alyssa Baker is a writer and a resident security expert for the SafeWise team. She enjoys writing about home automation and home security gadgets, and drinks a lot of coffee in her spare time. Learn more

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