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Spring Cleaning? Study Finds Cleaning Products as Damaging to Lungs as Smoking


Cleaning house is one of those unwelcome tasks that typically involves multiple cleaning products…furniture polish, ammonia, mold and mildew removers, glass cleaner and more!

And while it’s nice to have a sparkling clean home, a new study out of the University of Bergen in Norway found that women who worked as cleaners — or regularly used cleaning sprays or other cleaning products at home — appeared to experience a greater decline in lung function over time than women who do not clean.

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Previous research out of the university found that those who regularly use household cleaners have a 14-percent higher rise of suffering from a reduction of lung function over the next 20 years. But now, the authors took that a step further and found that the decline in lung function in women working as cleaners was comparable to smoking a pack of cigarettes a day for 20 years.

Regular Use of Cleaning Products Leads to Decreased Lung Function

The study involved 6,236 participants in the European Community Respiratory Health Survey. At the time of enrollment, the average age of the participants was 34. Then, the participants were followed for more than 20 years.

After analyzing the data, the research team found that women who regularly used cleaning products had a marked decrease in lung function. They also found that asthma was more common in women who cleaned at home or at work compared to those who did not clean.

The level of lung impairment was surprising at first, said lead study author Øistein Svanes. “However, when you think of inhaling small particles from cleaning agents that are meant for cleaning the floor and not your lungs, maybe it is not so surprising after all.”

“The take home message of this study is that in the long run cleaning chemicals very likely cause rather substantial damage to your lungs,” adds Svanes. “These chemicals are usually unnecessary; microfiber cloths and water are more than enough for most purposes.”

All Natural Cleaners for Your Home

If you’re looking for natural ways to keep your home clean and smelling nice, there are three homemade natural alternatives that are great for almost everything: baking soda, vinegar and essential oils.

Here is just a sampling of how these three items can be used for most of your cleaning needs:

All purpose cleaner: Mix about 1½ cup of water with 1 cup of white vinegar. Add about 30 drops of essential oil such as lemon, lime, lavender, tea tree or peppermint.

Sink and kitchen scrub: Sprinkle baking soda on your counters instead of using toxic kitchen scrubs. Then use a damp cloth to wipe surfaces clean.

Glass and mirrors: Add about ¼ cup of vinegar to a cup of water. Toss in a few tablespoons of rubbing alcohol and a couple of drops of essential oil and you will have a pleasant smelling, streak-free window and glass cleaner.

Oven cleaner: Mix together even parts of baking soda and white vinegar to make a paste. If needed add a little water to create the proper consistency for a spreadable paste. Then spread it over the walls of your oven. Give it a couple of hours — or even overnight — then remove with a damp cloth. (For the microwave, just put a little baking soda on a damp cloth and wipe down the interior.)

Furniture polish: It is best to make furniture polish on an as-needed basis. Just mix 4 parts olive oil to 1 part white vinegar in a spray bottle. Then add a few drops of essential oil. Spray it onto a lint-free cloth and start polishing. (Since oil and vinegar don’t mix, you’ll need to shake it well before each use.)

Toilet cleaner: Pour ½ cup of baking soda into the toilet bowl. Then add several drops of essential oil followed about ½ cup of white vinegar. Let it fizz for a few minutes, then scrub it well with your bowl brush.

For our go-to spring cleaning checklist, check out our article The Ultimate Spring Cleaning Checklist + 5 Spring Cleaning Tips You Need to Know.


Women Who Clean at Home or Work Face Increased Lung Function Decline. Press Release. American Thoracic Society. Feb 2018.

Dana Nicholas is a freelance writer and researcher in the field of natural and alternative healing. She has over 20 years of experience working with many noted health authors and anti-aging professionals, including James Balch, M.D., Dr. Linda Page, “Amazon” John Easterling and Al Sears M.D. Dana’s goal is to keep you up-to-date on information, news and breakthroughs that can have a direct impact on your health, your quality of life… and your lifespan. “I’m absolutely convinced that America’s misguided trust in mainstream medicine – including reliance on the government to regulate our food and medicine supply – is killing us, slowly but surely,” she cautions. “By sharing what I’ve learned throughout the years I hope I can empower others to take control over their own health.”

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