• By Ian Roth

Mayo Clinic Minute: Why cleaning too often could be bad for your health

April 20, 2018

For the obsessively clean, beware. Those cleaning chemicals you spray all over to get your house spick-and-span may be hurting your lungs.

Dr. Clayton Cowl, a Mayo Clinic lung specialist and toxicologist says cleaning chemicals are a risk, but one that can be managed.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

Journalists: Broadcast-quality video pkg (1:00) is in the downloads. Read the script.

"Well, I think we all know that there are a lot of different chemicals that we potentially are exposed to at home," Dr. Cowl says.

According to research, people who are frequently exposed to cleaning chemicals over extended periods of time have shown decreased lung function.

Dr. Cowl says it's something to keep in mind, but most people probably aren't inhaling these chemicals often enough to really cause harm.

"I think the message here is that [with] everything we have in our closet, we're [not] immediately going to disintegrate from them," Dr. Cowl says.

But he says those who clean professionally or are exposed to cleaning chemicals repeatedly and frequently should take steps to limit their exposure.

"I think using products that are less toxic – that may be more environmentally friendly – and also, just when you're applying those products, doing it with the adequate amount of ventilation around. [Those] are all things that you can do ... to minimize the long-term risk," Dr. Cowl says.

So if you want to breathe easy in a squeaky clean home, turn on a fan or open a window while you clean. Don't mix products. And select cleaners with less irritating fumes.

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