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Monday, July 1, 2019

The Biggest Cleaning Mistakes that Affect Your Health

Cleaning can mean different things for different people – for some it’s a tiring and annoying responsibility, for others it’s something important, which keeps their lives organised, and for some people it’s even a fun and relaxing activity. However, what it is in fact is a necessity, which keeps our homes clean and sanitary. Unfortunately, many people actually make their homes dirtier while they clean, because they make some common mistakes, which only spread germs around.

    Here are some of the most common cleaning mistakes that affect your health negatively.

    Misuse of cleaning tools

    One of the biggest cleaning mistakes people make quite often is to use the same rag when cleaning different house surfaces. Even though we use detergent, the rag picks up germs and dirt from each surface it touches, and it spreads everything onto the next one. This means kitchen germs can contaminate the coffee table, and let’s not talk about where the bathroom germs can be transferred. Professionals recommend using different rags for bathroom, kitchen, bedroom and living room surfaces, and mark them somehow or pick different colours for each room. In addition, cleaning the rags after use is a good way to stop the spread of germs. Microfiber cloths are machine washable.

    Another common mistake when using cleaning tools is skipping the filter change or forgetting to clean the vacuum cleaner after use. Many people think that it’s not so urgent, because it’s not full, but the longer the dust stays there, the better it settles and can clog the filter and the vents. The result will be decreased suction and after some time, the vacuum can even start blowing back dust. This will result in contaminated indoor air, which is unhealthy to breathe and can cause respiratory distress. It’s especially dangerous for people with asthma and allergies.

    Other mistakes are using feather dusters, which only misplace the dust, spraying detergents directly on surfaces, as big parts of the detergent emit into the air, and not washing the curtains often enough (they gather a lot of dust that spreads to the air when you open a window).

    Kitchen cross-contamination

    Cross-contamination in the kitchen is a very serious problem many people don’t pay attention to. The biggest mistakes are connected to handling food and storing it in the fridge. It’s good to have separate cutting boards and knives for vegetables and for meat and dairy products. Also, the meat cutting board will need more than washing liquid to get clean, because raw meat contains harmful bacteria that can harm our health. Many people suggest soaking the cutting board in diluted bleach or hydrogen peroxide, but white vinegar can also do the trick for green cleaning fans. Another mistake is forget disinfecting the sink and countertops after handling meat. Everything needs to be wiped with a disinfecting detergent, and the garbage disposal needs to be emptied and disinfected as well.

    As for storing food in the fridge, it’s good to have separate shelves for vegetables, dairy products and meat. In addition, dairy products and meats belong in airtight containers, so the germs can be contained.

    Healthy laundry tips

    Laundry can be tricky, because it really depends on the type of fabric you’re going to wash. Ideally, a washing temperature of about 60°C is perfect for killing germs, BUT a temperature this high is not suitable for most fabrics. Fortunately, ironing is a good way to kill all germs effectively. As for laundry, most clothes from man-made fibres (nylon, polyester, spandex and other), jeans, knits, bed linen and towels can be washed in warm water, but you shouldn’t go higher than 40°C or 50°C if they are heavily soiled. For very dirty clothes, pre-soaking is a good alternative to get the dirt and bacteria out. Cold water (20°C - 30°C) is perfect for bright colours which can bleed, delicate fabrics (silk, lace, chiffon, etc.) and everything black. However, all these fabrics need to be ironed on an appropriate temperature once dry, to kill all the remaining germs.

    Often overlooked home areas

    The mattress is often overlooked in terms of cleaning, which is a bad idea, because all kinds of germs, dust-mites, dead skin cells, dead insect parts and other unpleasant things live in there. This can lead to asthma, clogged sinuses and many other health problems. Double-sided mattresses need to be flipped and thoroughly cleaned at least twice a year. A good way to maintain the mattress and kill dust mites, is vacuuming it once a month, then spreading some baking soda (it absorbs moisture and oils and disinfects), leave for an hour, then vacuum again.

    The condition of the air conditioner and the HVAC system are also very important to our health. They need cleaning twice a year, to remove all the dust and dirt, and to avoid allergies. The duct pipes are also a good hiding place for pests.

    Other often forgotten places are doorknobs, different handles around the house, TV remotes, TV’s, computers, computer keyboards, phones, and other similar items. We touch them all the time with germy hands, but we rarely think about disinfecting them. If you want to stay healthy during flu season, cleaning these spots regularly is a good place to start.

    Avoid unhealthy cleaning products

    One of the things we rarely realise, is that many things around the house are potentially dangerous, especially the cleaning detergents. There are many organisations which research common detergents we use around the house (all-purpose cleaners, oven cleaning detergents, window cleaners, tile cleaners, detergents for toilets, and more), and the results they publish are often shocking. Elements like ammonia, chlorine bleach, caustic soda and 1,4 dioxane are present in almost all the products, according to the Environmental Working Group. They are well-known skin and respiratory irritants and cause asthma and allergies, and some of them are to cause cancer-risks in the long term.

    When you choose your cleaning detergents, avoid products containing these chemicals. Instead, you can aim for something healthier for your family and the environment. While you shop, you can look for labels that say “green”, “organic”, “family friendly” and “non-toxic”. Other labels, which will show you that a product is safe health-wise, are “petroleum-free”, “solvent-free”, “biodegradable”, “phosphate-free” and “VOC-free”.

    Author: Melanie Johnson

    Melanie is an Australian marketing executive and blogger with passion for green alternatives, DIY and everything eco-friendly. She works for Fantastic Services Group, a licensed home improvement company, which operates in a few major cities.

    That's all for today!
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