Cleaning is an essential part of maintaining a healthy and happy home. In the midst of a pandemic, it’s become increasingly important to be diligent about cleaning and disinfecting our homes. Unfortunately, many store-bought cleaning products contain harmful chemicals and irritating fragrances that can increase respiratory symptoms. In fact, common household cleaning products are a contributing factor in 1 in 7 adult asthma cases. Part of maintaining a healthy home is choosing cleaning products that are effective but don’t cause harm to our overall health.
In this article, we’ll discuss what products to avoid, what ingredients are safe and other cleaning tips for a safe and healthy household.
Cleaning Products to Avoid
While some store-bought cleaning products are okay to use, many contain harmful ingredients that could pose risk to those dealing with asthma, COPD or any other lung-related illnesses. Some of the ingredients you should avoid include:
- Ammonia: Though it has cleaning properties, it can cause burns if it touches exposed skin and can cause burning and irritation to the mouth and throat if ingested.
- Bleach: The fumes from bleach can be extremely irritating to the lungs and can burn human tissue internally and externally.
- Aerosol sprays: Aerosol sprays are filled with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that release harmful toxins into the air in our homes, resulting in chronic respiratory issues.
- Sodium hydroxide (oven cleaners): Oven cleaners release toxic fumes making them extremely harmful to individuals with existing respiratory problems.
- Fragrances: Store-bought products are often made with added fragrances that contain phthalates, which are used to help make the fragrances last longer. Phthalates can damage the lungs and have been found to be a contributing factor causing asthma and other lung-related diseases.
Many store-bought cleaners are labeled as clean, but actually still contain harmful and toxic ingredients. Always check the ingredient list on the product to ensure you’re buying a product that is safe and healthy.
Lung-Safe Cleaning Ingredients and Recipes
Making natural cleaning products at home is a simple and effective way to ensure you’re cleaning your home with the safest ingredients. Luckily, most of these ingredients are ones you probably already have lying around in your home. Some of these ingredients include:
- White vinegar
- Baking soda
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Isopropyl alcohol
- Castile soap
Aside from these main ingredients, incorporating essential oils into your DIY cleaners can help you achieve that fresh, clean smell without having to worry about any toxic fumes entering your home. Some lung-safe and asthma-proof essential oils include:
- Tea tree
Now that we know which ingredients are safe and effective to use, it’s time to get to cleaning! Here are a few quick and simple cleaning product recipes you can make today.
Disinfectant wipes are always convenient to clean up quick messes or wipe down surfaces. Surprisingly, making disinfectant wipes at home is fairly easy.
Ingredients you’ll need:
- Bowl with a lid
- White vinegar
- Dish towels or washcloths
- Castile soap
- Essential oil of choice (optional)
- In your bowl, combine one part vinegar, peroxide or alcohol and one part warm water
- Add 3-4 drops of castile soap
- Add 2-3 drops of essential oils for fragrance (optional)
- Mix the ingredients together in the bowl
- Roll the dish towels or washcloths and place them into the mixture
- Put the lid on and store the wipes in a cool, dry place
- When a mess occurs, take out a wipe and get to cleaning!
- When the rag is dirty, wash it and repeat the process
Everyone needs an all-purpose cleaner in their cabinet for all their cleaning needs! This will help disinfect kitchen surfaces and clean up bathroom sinks without causing an asthma attack.
Ingredients you’ll need:
- Spray bottle
- 2 cups of vinegar
- 2 cups of water
- Citrus peels (optional)
- Combine citrus peels and vinegar in an air-tight container. Let it sit for 1-2 weeks. *If you don’t want to make a citrus-scented solution, skip to step 3.
- After you’ve let the mixture sit for 1-2 weeks, strain it so you’re left with citrus-infused vinegar. Throw the peels away.
- Pour the vinegar mixture and the water into a spray bottle.
- Stir or shake to combine.
Optional: If you don’t want a citrus-scented cleaner but still want a fresh scent, add a few drops of your favorite essential oil. Frankincense is a perfect option that smells great and has very strong cleaning properties.
How to Avoid Irritation While Cleaning
Cleaning your home shouldn’t give you a coughing fit or irritate your respiratory system. Here are some cleaning tips that will keep you and your lungs safe.
1. Wear a face mask and gloves
We all have an endless supply of face masks since the pandemic hit. If you’re still using chemicals in your home, make sure to cover your face and mouth. You’ll also want to wear rubber cleaning gloves as many chemicals, like ammonia, can burn the skin. Wearing a face mask can help minimize the chances of inhaling these harmful chemicals that can cause irritation to the lungs.
2. Control moisture
Mold in the home can be hard on those with respiratory illnesses. Controlling the moisture levels in your home can help mitigate the risk of causing health concerns. To limit mold growth, spray vinegar on your walls and let it air dry. If you’re concerned about mold, consider getting a mold inspection and getting it removed.
3. De-clutter and dust
There are many nooks and crannies in our homes that can accumulate dust. Though these places can be hard to reach, make sure to clean them often. Dust can trigger asthma and allergies, so dusting often can limit the amount of dust particles that enter the air in your home. Try dusting with your homemade disinfectant wipes so your surface is squeaky clean.
For more lung-safe cleaning recipes and other cleaning tips, check out this visual guide.