3 Ways Cleaning Could Harm Your Health


While there are certain people on the planet for whom cleaning is not a chore but a pleasure, it’s fairly safe to say that these people are… unusual. For the rest of us mere mortals, cleaning isn’t a pleasant task that we throw ourselves into with enthusiasm, but more something we need to get out of the way. We push through it as quickly as we possibly can, aiming for efficacy, but not averse to a few shortcuts that will make things look neat and tidy on the surface.

For those of us who are less inclined to see cleaning as a hobby and more as a horror, it’s especially galling to learn that cleaning could -- quite literally -- be causing health problems. So not only do you have to do something you outright dislike, it could also have nasty implications for your health: how is that fair?

It may not be fair, but it is true. Below, let’s explore the four most common ways that cleaning could be doing a number on your health, and the ways you can bring the situation back under control.

1) Antibacterial Cleaning Products Are Problematic

Most houses don’t need high strength antibacterial cleaning products. You’re likely familiar with the way that cleaning products are advertised; they promise to kill 99.9 percent of bacteria, to make your house fresh and sanitary and cleaner than you could have ever dreamed.

There’s a couple of points to discuss regarding these products:

  1. What about the .1 percent of bacteria? If your surface cleaner can kill all bacteria apart from the most deadly, dangerous bacteria, then it’s not really much use. Without actively listing what bacteria slip through that .1% net, it’s pretty clear that this is little but a meaningless advertising slogan.
  2. Cleaning products don’t need to be specifically antibacterial or to seek and kill bacteria. Cleaning with hot water is effective for this, or even just using soap and then rinsing the surface clean.

The simple truth is that the more “antibacterial” products we use, the more chances we stand of worsening the growing crisis of antibiotic resistance. There are chemicals in hand soap, for example, that we already know are causing problems with antibiotic resistance. Given that a failure of antibiotics would plunge us back into the health dark ages, it’d be wise to think about that if you’re looking to buy the “strongest” cleaning products you can.

2) Harsh Chemicals Are Bad For Your Skin


Few of us who have ever performed household cleaning have gotten through the endeavor unscathed. There are a variety of products that come in contact with the skin, and instantly cause irritation. Many companies warn customers to use gloves while cleaning, but how many of us actually obey that advice? Not many.

If you have existing skin conditions such as eczema, the harsh chemicals contained in “heavy duty” cleaning products will exacerbate the condition. This is both when you’re cleaning, and when you come into contact with the cleaned item in future-- there’s usually a residue left behind on the surface.

While it’s one thing to want cleaning products to be as effective as possible, it’s quite another to sacrifice the comfort of your epidermis to achieve this. Opt for cleaners that talk of their natural properties, rather than those who have ingredient lists containing a thousand harsh compounds you have never heard of before. Take the time to learn more from Better Life and other natural cleaners; they’re just as effective at cleaning, but they will be far kinder to your skin.

3) Your Lungs Are Suffering

It’s fair to say that many conventional cleaning products aren’t just tough on your skin; they could cause real problems for your airways and lungs also. When you have been going hard at your home in a cleaning frenzy, it’s impossible not to notice the smell from cleaning products in the air. It’s a tangy, chemical odor; though, admittedly, manufacturers do try to mask just how nasty the odor is by adding fragrance to their products.

The truth is, due to these efforts to cover for the acridity of the cleaner itself, your lungs could be being dealt a double-whammy of outright bad news. First and foremost, the cleaning agents themselves can cause unpleasant fumes; these can make you cough, irritate your airways, and potentially even cause health problems later in life. Secondly, you then have to deal with the added masking fragrance itself. If the fragrance is made using phthalates, then you could be causing unnecessarily damage to your health.

To avoid this, try and opt for products that don’t claim to have huge, stringent cleaning powers. If possible, always select the unfragranced version of any product, or at least read through the ingredients list to check how that fragrance has been produced. There are safe ways of adding fragrance to products, but phthalates are one of the most cost-effective; it should come as no surprise to learn that many manufacturers elect to save money and use them. With so little of the general populace aware of the threats they pose, companies don’t yet deem it worth making the switch to more costly fragrances. Not only should you be aware of this issue for your own purposes, but definitely try to spread the word on it too!



Given that cleaning is such an unpleasant task to begin with, the last thing you want is to experience additional health complaints as a result of having to clean. The key point to remember is to be discerning about the products you choose. Read labels, learn the most dangerous ingredients to look out for, and always try to make informed selections about the items you bring into your home.

Finally, even when you have selected the best products imaginable, you should still take sensible precautions when using them. Gloves are the best way of protecting your skin, and always try and ventilate the room you’re cleaning by opening a window.

By keeping these key points in mind, cleaning can just be a task that irritates you emotionally, rather than causing literal irritation to your skin and lungs

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