Thanks to Marie Kondo, we’ve already been talking about spring cleaning for months. Now that it’s finally time to get things going, do you have a strategy? While it’s hard to argue with the benefits of removing dust, dirt and clutter from our homes, have you ever wondered if the products you’re using are actually making things worse?
According to the American Lung Association, “household and cleaning products — including soaps, polishes and grooming supplies — often include harmful chemicals. Even products advertised as ‘green’ or ‘natural’ may contain ingredients that can cause health problems.”
So, how do you protect your home and family from dangerous toxins? Read the labels of every product you buy and follow the instructions. Doing so could actually save your life.
Volatile Organic Compounds
Beyond headaches and eye and throat irritation, some cleaning supplies release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which can contribute to chronic respiratory problems, allergic reactions and more serious health problems, including cancer.
Some common household items containing VOCs and other toxic substances include (but are not limited to):
- Aerosol sprays
- Air fresheners
- Laundry detergent
- Dishwashing liquid
- Chlorine bleach
- Rug and upholstery cleaners
- Furniture and floor polish
- Dry cleaning chemicals
- Oven cleaners
You’ve probably heard this before, but it bears repeating — NEVER mix bleach and ammonia. This combination creates a gas that can cause chronic breathing problems and can be lethal. Carefully check the ingredients in any cleaner to avoid a potentially life-threatening mistake.
The Cleveland Clinic has a great article providing room-by-room tips for handling and storing cleaners, detergent, auto supplies and paint that may contain harmful chemicals. Before beginning your spring cleaning, take a few moments to review it — better safe than sorry!
Indoor Air Quality
Another aspect of spring cleaning is ensuring indoor air quality. A study by the University of Colorado Boulder suggests that cooking, cleaning and other household activities can generate enough pollutants to create an atmosphere within your home that is comparable to a polluted major city. How shocking is that?
The American Lung Association has compiled a list of some of the biggest contributors to poor indoor air quality. The following “can cause or contribute to the development of infections, lung cancer and chronic lung diseases such as asthma”:
- Bacteria and viruses
- Building and paint products
- Carbon monoxide
- Cleaning supplies and household chemicals
- Dust mites and dust
- Floods and water damage
- Mold and dampness
- Nitrogen dioxide
- Pet dander
- Residential wood burning
- Secondhand smoke
- Volatile Organic Compounds
One way to keep an eye on this is to test your indoor air quality with Home Air Check.