When did cleaner become better? Have we forgotten great things can come from a little uncleanliness like Penicillin or blue cheese? Walk into a grocery store and the aisles are filled with hundreds of candy colored cleanings products. Turn on the news and listen to a breaking story about the secret mold growing on your child’s school desk. Daytime talk shows warn about the dangerous bacteria festering on your purse, and commercials for cleaning products are endless. It’s easy to see why we are all so scared of a little dirt.
Parents and individuals alike are scared into disinfecting, deodorizing, and decontaminating every inch of their homes, but there can always be too much of a good thing, even when it comes to cleaning. Research shows that children are more likely to develop asthma when they grow up in an environment devoid of viruses and bacteria. The immune system needs to be faced with viruses and bacteria at an early age so it develop and strengthen itself.
The issues do not end there. Cleaning products not only make children more susceptible to asthma, but the ingredients in everyday cleaning products trigger allergies.
Common ingredients and cleaning practices that can lead to heightened allergies:
- Using anything with strong odors like ammonia
- Synthetic fragrances or musk
- Air fresheners contain volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) which may lead to asthma in children
- Regular use of aerosol sprays
- Dish detergents and soaps can lead to redness, heat, and swelling of skin (a condition known as ‘contact dermatitis’)
- Lighting citronella candles can trigger asthma
- Oven cleaners contain sodium hydroxide which is highly toxic and known to irritate airways
Tips for cleaning to minimize allergies and asthma:
- Clean in a ventilated area, open a window
- Wash clothes and bedding regularly with hot water
- Use cleaning products with minimal odors
- Consider rubber and spider plants in your home, they are known to be natural odor absorbers
Cleaning with products that are made with natural ingredients is better for you and better for the earth. You can make effective cleaning products with items that are likely already in your kitchen including lemon, vinegar, baking soda, salt, water, and vegetable oil. You can even prevent mothballs with natural and fragrant herbs like rosemary or mint.
Next time you clean remember that if the cleaning agent has a strong odor (i.e. bleach and ammonia), it is likely triggering allergies while disinfecting. If you or a family member suffers from allergies or asthma, chose a natural cleaner that does not contain VOC’s or artificial fragrances. Finally you can always choose to make the cleaning product yourself. When you know the ingredients of what you’re cleaning with, you know you are cleaning safely.