Still using commercial cleaning products? They could be harming your health

Statistics show occupational cleaners have more respiratory problems; time to banish chemical cleaning products from our homes?

Cleaning products on a floor
(Image credit: I Want Wallpaper)

Think the bad rap chemical cleaning products get is undeserved, or simply scaremongering? You might want to rethink: there is mounting evidence that using strong, chemical-laden cleaning products is in fact harmful to your health. More than half of us are aware of the potential risks of cleaning products, and nearly a quarter (21 per cent) prefer using clothes and scourers in order to avoid chemicals altogether*. 

Deep cleaning press image from Airtasker

(Image credit: Airtasker)

There is a well-established link between the use of strong chemical cleaning products and cases of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) – which includes bronchitis and emphysema – among professional cleaners. A study of 5,000 health records by the European Community Respiratory Survey found that occupational cleaners had 17 per cent greater loss of lung function than average, and those involved in cleaning at home had a 14 per cent greater loss of lung function over 20 years. 

Family GP, Dr Gill Jenkins says, 'The prevalence of asthma sky-rocketed from the 1950s up to the 1990s, with, depending on the statistics you look at, a two- or three-fold increase in the number of people affected. And while it is true that correlation does not necessarily mean causation, it is telling that sales of household cleaners soared over the same period.'

The solutions? Bicarbonate of soda, vinegar, and lemon are all effective and natural cleaning agents that have multiple uses in the home; or try using an e-cloth, which cleans and removes bacteria (proven by proper lab tests), and requires only water. 

*Research from e-cloth, based on a 2015 Mintel market report

Anna is a professional writer with many years of experience. She has a passion for contemporary home decor and gardening. She covers a range of topics, from practical advice to interior and garden design.