Cleaning is an essential (if unavoidable) part of home life. To really get the job done when cleaning difficult areas like the kitchen and bathroom, this often requires using cleaning products. However, many people may not realize that certain household cleaning products (while effective for cleaning) can actually have an adverse effect on their health.

The chemicals found in many cleaners, foams, bleach, and disinfecting sprays can contribute to indoor air pollution. They can also be harmful if inhaled or touched, or even poisonous if ingested. In fact, some common household cleaners are among the most toxic products found in the home according to the U.S. Poison Control Center. Certain products can cause acute (immediate) health issues like respiratory irritation or skin damage. Others, if used long enough, can contribute to serious long-term concerns including lung cancer.

Some dangerous chemicals to look out for include volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Cleaning products that use harmful ingredients like ammonia and bleach can also impact a person’s health if the correct precautions are not taken. Dangerous chemicals can be found in any of the following types of cleaning products:

  • Aerosol sprays
  • Air fresheners
  • Chlorine-based bleach
  • Dishwashing detergents
  • Dry cleaning chemicals
  • Rug and upholstery cleaners
  • Furniture and floor polish
  • Oven cleaners

There are things you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones when using household cleaning products:

  • We recommend reading the labels on cleaning products before buying them and avoiding cleaners that contain VOCs, irritants, and other potentially harmful chemicals (especially air fresheners).
  • Check out the EPA’s list of products that meet its Safer Choice requirements for cleaning and other needs.
  • Stop using a product if it makes you experience headaches, coughing, or dizziness.
  • Use warm water and soap as an alternative to chemical-based cleaners when you can (or use safer ingredients like baking soda or vinegar).
  • When using household cleaning products, try to avoid small, enclosed spaces and keep windows and doors open if you can.

This blog is not meant to frighten or startle anyone, but rather to help our readers understand that it’s important to take precautions when using household cleaning products. As always, the health and safety of our patients is our very highest priority. For more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our healthcare providers, please contact Family Practice Center. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for additional tips, news, updates, and more.