Hidden Health Dangers of Spring Cleaning from Hidden Health Dangers of Spring Cleaning

Hidden Health Dangers of Spring Cleaning

Unfortunately, the process of cleaning up the messes in your home is not risk-free. Many people use the opportunity to scrub and bleach everything in their homes because this is the only time of the year they actually get to do it.


Cleaning products


Research has revealed a disturbing number of unlabeled chemicals of concern, such as complex mixtures of EDCs and asthma-related compounds, in commonly used household and personal care products. The multipurpose cleaners widely used for windows and kitchen items have 2-butoxyethanol, the ingredient that gives cleaners their distinct smell. Many products don’t list this harmful chemical on the label because they are not legally required to do so. Side effects include breathing problems, low blood pressure, lowered levels of hemoglobin, and high levels of acid in the body), according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.  

Carbon monoxide exposure


Anything in the home that burns fuel can potentially become a source of carbon monoxide, according to the National Safety Council. If you have been exposed to too much of the invisible and odorless gas, the body will react by replacing the oxygen in the red blood cells with carbon monoxide, leading to serious problems, even death. A dull headache, along with weakness, dizziness, shortness of breath and confusion are common symptoms. Beware of pressure washers, furnace, dryers, stoves, and fireplaces.

Mowing and hearing loss


Gas lawn mowers fall into the “extremely loud” category - 106 dB, according to the Hearing Loss Association of America. Loud noise is probably the main reason that more adolescents are losing some of their hearing, according to a study. Noise that is too loud kills the nerve endings in the inner ear; it destroys them over prolonged exposure. Wear hearing protectors such as earplugs and earmuffs.

Back injuries


Spring cleaning is often the time to redesign one’s home. This means people will be moving heavy furniture and large items from one place to another. This poses a serious risk of back injuries, especially if people have poor lifting techniques. Keep your feet shoulder width apart, bend at the knees and tighten you stomach muscles. The fact that most people are used to not moving much during the cold winter months is not helping. It’s crucial to warm up and stretch before you start any taxing chores, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.

Slips, falls and wet floors


Second only to car incidents, slips, trips and falls are the most frequent accidents leading to personal injury, according to research. They can result in head and back injuries, broken bones, cuts and lacerations, sprained joints or strained muscles. Most slips are caused by walking on wet or slippery surfaces. Highly polished floors such as marble, terrazzo, or ceramic tile can be extremely slippery even when dry.



All homes have some kind of pests, which you don’t see most of the time. Depending on where you live and how old your building is, mice are very common. The problem is hantavirus. Infection with hantavirus can progress to Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS), which can be fatal, according to the CDC. People become infected through contact with hantavirus-infected rodents or their urine and droppings.



Passive exposure to cleaning bleach in the home may have adverse effects on school-age children’s health by increasing the risk of respiratory and other infections, a study shows. Exposure, in adults as well, can cause irritation in the eyes, mouth, lungs and on skin. People who have with asthma or other breathing problems are especially vulnerable. Bleach is harmful because it is very reactive, especially when it is mixed with ammonia, drain cleaners, and other acids.



Ammonia, which has a sharp suffocating odor, is corrosive. Exposure to high concentrations causes immediate burning of the eyes, nose, throat and respiratory tract and can result in blindness, lung damage or death, according to the New York State Department of Health. Inhalation of lower concentrations can cause coughing, and nose and throat irritation.

Air fresheners


You may be tempted to use them, but your best choice to freshen up the air is to open the windows. The problem with air fresheners is the phthalates in them. These chemicals can lead to hormonal imbalances and reproductive problems. Side effects for men include lower testosterone levels, decreased sperm counts, and lower sperm quality, according to the National Resource Defense Council. Exposure to phthalates during development can also cause malformations of the male reproductive tract and testicular cancer. Many air fresheners don’t even list phthalates as an ingredient.


Household Borax is commonly used, most often in laundry and dishwashing detergents. Borax is still allowed in the U.S. but the European Union considers them toxic to human reproductive systems and has banned their use. Chronic exposure to high doses of borax or boric acid causes testicular atrophy in male mice, rats and dogs, according to the Environment Working Group.



Asthmagens are any chemicals that can lead to the development of asthma in healthy people. Check the label of the cleaning products, including floor and tile cleaners, you use and avoid anything that contains ethanolamines and formaldehyde. EWG’s assessment of more than 2,000 cleaning products found that 438 contain at least one chemical that the AOEC has identified as an asthmagen.