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Cleaning Sprays Can Damage Your Lungs - Try These Alternatives

Last Updated Sep 14, 2018 · Written by Rob Schneider


You don't smoke cigarettes and think your lungs are healthy. According to numerous studies, cleaning sprays and products can do the same damage as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. It depends on how often you use cleaning sprays and other cleaning products, but even limited exposure can damage your lungs.

  1. Studies prove cleaning sprays can damage your lungs
  2. Environmentally friendly alternatives to chemical cleaning sprays
  3. Environmentally friendly cleaning services

Studies prove cleaning sprays can damage your lungs

According to an article in the Independent, Professor Cecile Svanes, a medic at the University of Bergen and senior author of a study said, "While the short-term effects of cleaning chemicals on asthma are becoming increasingly well documented, we lack knowledge of the long-term impact." He went on to say that, "We feared that such chemicals, by steadily causing a little damage to the airways day after day, year after year, might accelerate the rate of lung function decline that occurs with age." According to other studies, it looks like he was right.

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A European Community Health Survey looked at lung function in 22 communities and the survey involved over 6000 participants. The average age of the participants was 34 and the study was conducted over a 20 year period. The study concluded that cleaning sprays and products can do as much damage as smoking 20 cigarettes a day for a period of ten to twenty years. Cleaners were most at risk, but even women who regularly used sprays and other products at home were at risk.

The American Thoracic Society came to the same conclusion, stating that women who work as cleaners or use cleaning sprays at home show significant loss of lung function. The study listed 27 other studies that verified the same thing. The study said: "cleaning agents have known irritative effects and potential for 274 causing inflammatory changes in the airways."

An article in Healthline documented the decline of lung function in cleaners and women who used cleaning sprays at home:

  • The amount of air a person can forcibly exhale in one second declined 3.6 milliliters a year faster in women who cleaned at home and 3.9 ml/year faster in women who worked as cleaners
  • The total amount of air a person can forcibly exhale declined 4.3 ml/year in women who cleaned at home and 7.1 ml/year faster in women who worked as cleaners

There was not a significant difference in the ability to forcibly exhale air in one second in women who cleaned at home than women who worked as cleaners. There was a greater difference in the second conclusion, but even 4.3 ml/year is significant.

When you consider that using cleaning sprays can be as bad as smoking 20 cigarettes a day, you have to ask yourself what you can do about it. They are available everywhere, but contain chemical agents that can damage your lungs. This is true even for people who use them at home.

Environmentally friendly alternatives to chemical cleaning sprays

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Cleaning sprays are available in every supermarket, but are they really necessary? In the past, they didn't exist and many natural products can do as good a job as cleaning sprays. In Sustainable and eco friendly cleaning products, we outline many natural ingredients that can be as effective as chemical cleaning sprays. Some of them include:

  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Lemon
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Borax

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Each of these can clean almost anything and sometimes they are combined to make an even more powerful cleaning solution:

  • Hydrogen peroxide and vinegar can disinfect kitchen cutting boards
  • An effective oven cleaner is a mixture of baking soda or bicarbonate of soda and vinegar
  • Baking soda, borax and vinegar make an effective and environmentally friendly toilet bowl cleaner

9 environmentally friendly kitchen cleaning hacks outlines several ways you can avoid using chemicals in the kitchen. Almost anything in the kitchen can be cleaned without resorting to chemical sprays.

  • A dirty microwave can be cleaned by putting lemon in water and boiling it in the microwave for 3 to 5 minutes. Wait a few minutes and then wipe clean
  • Baking soda can clean many things in the kitchen including ovens and a mixture of baking soda and water can make any kitchen surface sparkle
  • Ammonia can clean hotplates. Put hotplates in a plastic bag and sprinkle in some ammonia. Leave them overnight and wipe the hotplates clean

Using environmentally friendly ingredients may take a little mixing and matching, but isn't that better than damaging your lungs over time? Once you get used to them, these common household ingredients can clean almost anything and won't damage your lungs.

Environmentally friendly cleaning services

There are alternatives to cleaning sprays that have chemicals that can damage your lungs and many cleaning services are starting to switch to natural products that don't harm workers health. Many of them are "green clean" services or may advertise as "environmentally friendly" services. You can get quotes from house cleaning services in your area and ask what types of products they use.

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If there are no "green cleaning" services in your area, hire a house cleaning service that understands the hazards of cleaning sprays. The workers should wear a protective breathing apparatus and gloves. You can leave the house for the three or four hours it takes them to clean the house and ask them to open windows to ventilate the house.

Chemical sprays are inhaled as they are sprayed on any surface. They can linger in the air, so the house should be ventilated to get rid of the harmful chemicals. It's better to be safe than sorry and the evidence is there. You may not smoke, but cleaning sprays with chemicals can be as damaging as smoking 20 cigarettes a day. Use environmentally friendly ingredients and you won't be "smoking" 20 cigarettes a day. Your family, too, could be in danger if you use cleaning sprays when they are around. Switch to environmentally friendly cleaning products. You will find them just as effective as chemical sprays and other cleaning products and once you get used to using them, you won't turn back.

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