3 spring cleaning mistakes that are damaging your health

spring cleaning mistakes

With spring cleaning season upon us, GP at LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor, Dr Bhavini Shah (GMC:7090158) explains the health perks of spring cleaning – plus the essential safety precautions to keep in mind:

“Keeping a clean and tidy home offers a whole host of mental and physical health benefits. While cleaning is important, it is even more important to make sure you’re cleaning safely. 

“Spring can be an especially difficult time for those with asthma as pollen counts begin to increase and certain spring cleaning products release irritants. If you suffer from asthma, make sure you’re prepared with an inhaler or asthma pump.”  

3 health benefits of spring cleaning

“There are numerous health benefits associated with spring cleaning that many people may not be aware of.”

Removing pollen 

“As the weather gets warmer, pollen levels increase, triggering hay fever. Hay fever affects 1 in 5 people in the UK and occurs when your body’s immune system reacts to pollen, commonly causing sneezing, coughing, a runny or blocked nose, and itchy eyes. 

“There are also some more unusual hay fever symptoms to look out for, including excessive sweating, loss of taste and smell, headaches and migraines, face pain, and asthma.

“Vacuuming and cleaning your home regularly with a damp cloth can help you remove any pollen build-up that has settled in your home. You can also fit your vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter or bag to prevent it from blowing out any small particles of pollen that you’re trying to catch.” 

Preventing dust mites

“Spring cleaning can help control pests like dust mites. These are microscopic insect-like bugs that feed on skin cells shed by people. They are found in all UK homes and thrive in warm, humid environments, making them a particular concern as the weather begins to warm. 

“Dust mite allergies are incredibly common, affecting 1 in 5 adults. The allergy causes hay fever-like symptoms for sufferers, such as coughing, a runny nose, and itchy, watery, and red eyes. Dust mite allergies can also trigger eczema and asthma attacks for sufferers. 

“Beds are the most common areas where dust mites live. Washing your sheets and blankets every week at 60°C or above will kill any dust mites. Reducing humidity can also be helpful, so make sure your extractor fan is turned on when you’re using the shower or cooking. You can also invest in a dehumidifier if you struggle with the humidity in your home.” 

Preventing mould build-up

“Mould can build up over the winter months due to cold, wet weather. Mould can cause a host of health issues, from producing allergens, irritants, and even toxic substances, to causing allergic reactions and asthma attacks so making sure your home is free of mould should be a real priority on your spring cleaning agenda. 

“If you’ve noticed small amounts of mould in your home, it’s important to clean these quickly to avoid additional mould growth and spreading of spores. It’s also incredibly important to clean mould properly, or you could risk your health.” 

3 spring cleaning mistakes that could impact your health

Using harmful cleaning products

Dr Bhavini Shah says: “While chlorine-based disinfectants may be effective cleaners, they may also pose potential health risks. Most common bleaches are chlorine based.

“Studies have shown a potential link between chemical disinfectants and the risk of developing COPD.”

“Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are chemicals commonly found in scented products like disinfectants, air fresheners, and cleaners. Despite many products lacking clear labels, these VOC-containing products can harm your health. 

“Aerosol sprays with VOCs may irritate your lungs and increase the risk of triggering allergies or asthma. If you have lung or breathing conditions, it’s crucial to avoid these chemicals as they can aggravate your airways.” 

Removing mould incorrectly

Cleaning expert and specialist in domestic cleaning, Sarah Dempsey, from shared more health-related cleaning mistakes she’s learned in her 25 years in the industry: 

“When cleaning mould, there are certain steps you need to take to ensure you’re keeping yourself safe and preventing spores from spreading. 

“Firstly, regardless of the extent of the mould, you should wear a mask, gloves and goggles to protect yourself from mould spores and cleaning products. You should also open your windows to increase ventilation, but keep internal doors to the rest of your house closed to prevent spores reaching other rooms in your home. 

“You can remove mould using mild detergent and warm water or use mould-specific cleaning products. Make sure to dry the area afterwards so you don’t leave any excess moisture that could encourage future mould growth. Also, make sure to slowly wipe away the mould rather than aggressively brushing, as this could spread more spores. 

“Mould can be incredibly detrimental to your health if left to remain and spread in your home. If mould patches keep reappearing then you should contact professionals.” 

Mixing cleaning products

Sarah Dempsey says: “Mixing products is never a good idea as you don’t know how the two different chemicals will react with one another.

“A new TikTok trend called ‘product overload’ sees creators mixing excessive amounts of different chemical cleaners together which can be incredibly damaging to your health – and potentially lethal. 

“One example of two cleaning products that should never be combined are ammonia-based cleaners and chlorine-based cleaners, such as multipurpose cleaner and bleach. Together, these two chemicals produce a deadly gas.

“Another example of a deadly cleaning combination is mixing bleach and acids. These two combined produce chlorine gas which can be deadly if concentrated. In fact, it was used as a chemical weapon in the First World War!”

Dr Bhavini Shah adds: “If you ever think that you may have been exposed to harmful chemicals or substances, call 111 for advice, or 999 if you’re being sick, losing consciousness, or experiencing drowsiness.”

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