Cleaning House Without Causing a Dustup

By Kuzma, Cindy

A squirt of your favorite household cleaner might keep your floors shiny and your bathroom fresh. If you’re not careful, it also can harm your lungs.

Chemicals in many cleaners, waxes, and air fresheners release dangerous gases into the air when used or stored. They’re unhealthy for anyone. But as an article in The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease points out, those with COPD are more susceptible.

However, having lung disease doesn’t doom you to dusty doorways and stained rugs. A few simple precautions can help you keep house safely.

Make Smart Product Choices

Some chemicals may aggravate your condition more than others. Pay attention to how you feel when you’re exposed to a given product. If you find it harder to breathe after using it, choose a different formula.

A few ingredients are known to be more harmful to your health. Check labels and steer clear of:

  • Methylene chloride

  • Benzene

  • Aerosol sprays

Also use caution with bleach and ammonia, which have strong fumes. When purchasing, renting, or remodeling a home, consider your lung health. Flat flooring, like wood and tile, can be cleaned with a damp cloth. Wall-to-wall carpeting exposes you to more particles in the air from vacuuming. If housework makes you breathless, consider asking someone to clean for you.

Use Cleaners Wisely

Read product labels thoroughly. Use each spray, wipe, or solution according to the instructions—for instance, some may be for outdoor use only. Never mix cleaners together unless instructed to do so by the manufacturer.

While you work, keep your home ventilated. Use strong-smelling cleaners only in rooms with an open window or a fan that sends air outside. If you can’t avoid inhaling fumes, consider wearing a mask over your nose and mouth.

Store Chemicals Safely

Don’t purchase cleaners in bulk—buy them in quantities you know you’ll use up quickly. Most labels also contain instructions for saving leftovers between uses. Gases can leak even from closed containers, so throwing away partially used cleaners could improve the air quality in your home.

In general, dispose of unused or little-used chemicals or cleaners safely. Check with your town or city officials for information about toxic waste disposal sites in your area.

Medical Reviewer: Garvey, Chris FNP Last Annual Review Date: 2010-02-17T00:00:00-07:00 Copyright: © 2000-2010 The StayWell Company, 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

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