Your clothes closet may be all neat and tidy with matching hangars and everything in its place - so that you can find that item of clothing quickly and efficiently - but have you ever thought about whether your closet is actually safe?
Do you have any items regularly dry cleaned?
There is a dangerous chemical used in the dry cleaning process called perchloroethylene and as a stain remover, it is a known human carcinogen and can cause damage to your nervous system and to your liver.
If you take off the plastic cover and hang up your dry cleaned clothes straight into your closet, this chemical is immediately released into your home. You can avoid the dangers of this practise by hanging the clothing outside for an hour or so to have a good airing first.
Do yo use mothballs in your closet?
Another carcinogenic chemical is used in the making of mothballs – paradichlorobenzene – which has been linked to leukemia and lymphoma in children. This chemical won't confine itself to your closet either as it will spread throughout your home.
So please avoid moth balls at all costs and if you have any in your home, dispose of them safely and immediately.
A safe and pleasant alternative to moth balls is the use of cedar. The perfect solution is a cedar closet but if that is a bit over the top and impractical, then you can store any vulnerable clothing in sealed bags containing cedar blocks or balls. There are even cedar hang-ups for your closet such as from Cedar America. The company describe these as hanging blocks of natural aromatic cedar that can be used in closets, garment bags and other storage containers to freshen air effectively and in a natural way. They even absorb moisture and unpleasant odors. If the aroma wears off over time, you can give the block a light sanding, and the aroma is renewed. Safe for the environment, you can order a pack of 2 blocks for $5.49.
How safe is your lighting?
Many older homes are not code compliant with regard to lighting in closets and the location of a bare light bulb inside a closet could start a fire. Closets tend to be filled with flammable material such as clothing, and incandescent bulbs get very hot.
If you are concerned about this possibility, move your circuit to an enclosed fluorescent light fixture mounted above the door on the header, giving a working clearance and avoiding generating the heat of an incandescent bulb. In addition, a switch that stays lit when the light is on will remind you to turn off the light when the door is closed.
The normal code requirements are that there should be a minimum clearance from the defined storage area as follows:
So give some thought to these possible danger spots when having a clothes clear out in your closet.
- 12 inches for totally enclosed surface incandescent or LED luminaires.
- 6 inches for recessed totally enclosed incandescent, fluorescent or LED luminaires.
- 6 inches for surface mounted or recessed fluorescent luminaires.