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8 Spring Cleaning Mistakes That Could Make You Sick

Thu, Jun 3rd 2021 01:00 pm

Could getting your house in tip top shape actually be harmful to your health? 

Whether you’re washing windows, shampooing your carpets or cleaning out the garage, it’s important to take into consideration the age of your home, the different areas you are focusing on and the products you’re using.

  1. The Attic - Donating and recycling items you haven’t used in years is a great start to spring cleaning! Just be aware that insulation, flooring and other materials in the attic may contain asbestos so it’s imperative that you avoid disturbing it when shifting boxes. Attempting to remove it yourself can put you at risk for an asbestos-related disease, so always call a professional.
  2. Dusting - Dust is a common trigger for asthma and allergy symptoms so it’s important to avoid ingesting and breathing dust as much as possible. Nowadays most people have a stash of masks in their car, purse, jacket pockets, kitchen drawers, etc., so make sure you’re protecting yourself by covering your face and mouth. You also want to follow a top-down strategy. Start with ceilings fans and shelving, and work your way down to the floors to limit redistribution of dust to freshly cleaned surfaces. Bonus points if your vacuum cleaner has a HEPA filter to more effectively trap dust.
  3. Fresh Scent - Air fresheners, deodorizers, laundry detergents, scented candles, disinfectant sprays, and other types of scented products can lead to (in some people) migraines, asthma attacks, breathing difficulties, dizziness, nausea, watery eyes, and skin rashes. Best bet is to opt for products labeled fragrance-free.
  4. Harsh Cleaners - Avoid products that use the ingredients sulfuric acid and sodium hydroxide. These can lead to caustic burns to the skin or eyes. Cleaners that tend to be more hazardous are heavy-duty degreasers, general purpose solvents, drain cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners, and oven cleaners. Don’t forget the golden rule of cleaning, never mix cleaners with chlorine bleach and ammonia together, it creates chloramine vapor which is toxic if inhaled.
  5. Not Wearing Safety Gear - Gloves can be very helpful to protect the skin, goggles protect the eyes and a face mask keeps you from inhaling particles. Now, this may be a little overboard for the everyday cleaning, but if you’re cleaning out a crawl space, an attic, garage or using strong cleaning chemicals, be sure to use protection.
  6. All Natural Cleaners - Products labeled ‘Natural’ aren’t necessarily any healthier than conventional cleaners, and you should always beware of any products that don’t list their ingredients. Just because they are labeled ‘organic,’ ‘all-natural,’ and ‘made with essential oils, can still emit potentially hazardous air pollutants.
  7. Indoor Cosmetic Changes - Spring is the perfect time of year to freshen up the inside of your home – with caution.  Many older homes may contain textured ceilings (the dreaded popcorn ceilings) that have asbestos. Asbestos may be present in plaster, textured paint and patching compounds used on walls and ceilings. Although SOME asbestos-containing building materials were banned in the 1970s, many products can be purchased that still do contain asbestos. It may still exist in homes built in more recent years.
  8. Home Maintenance - After winter, it is normal to have snow, ice or wind damage to the exterior of your home. Depending on the age of the house, asbestos could be in your siding, insulation, roofing, and even adhesives. Before beginning an outdoor remodel or fix, you should have a certified asbestos abatement company check the area.