Keeping your house clean is important, because it kills germs and mold, and gets rid of allergens, like dust mites. Even smart people using “green” products make cleaning mistakes that can put their health at risk. Here are the facts, courtesy of Prevention magazine:
- Doing a rush job. If you spray and wipe immediately, you’re leaving behind illness-causing germs, like salmonella. Experts say that disinfecting agents need time to maximize their ability to kill bacteria. So, read product labels for the “dwell” time it needs to sit on surfaces, which can range anywhere from 60 seconds for multi-surface cleaners, to several days for pet stain removers.
- Another mistake even smart people make: Mixing cleaning products. The bleach and acids found in many toilet cleaners and bathroom scrubs can create chlorine gas, a highly toxic substance that was used as a chemical weapon during World War I. Any time you mix the two, you could pass out – or even die. Bleach combined with ammonia can damage the lining of your lungs. The fix: Use one product at a time, and choose the least toxic option, like 1 part vinegar to 10 parts water. This kills 99.9% of kitchen bacteria, and leaves a nice shine.
- Another mistake: You skip the rubber gloves. Your skin absorbs chemicals easily, which is why nicotine patches are so effective. One common solvent called ethylene glycol can damage your red blood cells, kidneys and liver – and even cause cancer. So, always wear gloves when you clean. Either throwaway ones, or a different color pair for each chore, like washing dishes and cleaning the bathroom.
- One final cleaning mistake: You get carried away with the spray. More doesn’t always mean cleaner. The more you spray, the more aerosols there are to irritate your eyes, airways and lungs, and cause allergic reactions. Studies show that people who use spray cleaners once a week are 49% more likely to report asthma symptoms than those who don’t use them at all. The fix: Spray three or four squirts on a cloth. And when you’re done cleaning, wipe the surface again with a clean, dry rag to remove any chemical residue.