Domestic Cleaning Materials Can Be Dangerous Too – Allergies

updated: 18/01/2023

The Hidden Hygienic Dangers At Home

If your eyes itch and water, your nose runs, and you have constant headaches, it may not be allergy season but the hidden hazards in your home. Allergens may also be the cause of asthma and other respiratory ailments, skin rashes and a sore throat. Eliminating the source of these issues will help alleviate your symptoms, but first, you need to identify them. There are food, latex,  and nasal allergies, hay fever, sinusitis, or chronic allergies, which can be affected by non-allergic irritants such as extreme temperatures or smoke.

The Most Common House Allergens


If you suffer from serious allergies which seem to get worse when you are inside your house, you may be dealing with the number one cause of allergies – mould. If you go through the back closets and check the area above your shower or along the grouting of your tub, you may see the black slime commonly associated with mould. This can be eradicated with a strong solution of bleach and water. If it doesn’t seem to help, consider having your home inspected by a professional.

Mould grows in dark, humid locations such as your bathroom, leaky areas such as your roof or around your plumbing, and basements. It can also be found in not-so-common areas like your refrigerator, carpets, washing machine, old pillows, closets and wood panels. Eliminating the sources of those moulds are as simple as throwing out any mildewed or mouldy fabrics or as complicated as replacing your carpet and repairing leaks. Use bleach or products with bleach on surfaces that can take it, such as your tub or tile. Keep the humidity level in your home between 30 and 40 per cent.

Dust Mites

These microscopic insects live on dead human skin cells (which comprises most of the dust in your home) among other things. The mite itself doesn’t cause your allergic symptoms. Its droppings do. When you stir up the dust in your home, it sends these dropping flying into the air, and they suspend there for up to 20 minutes! They also live and thrive in your bedding and high humidity. If you’ve been looking for an excuse to leave your bed unmade, here it is. Air your mattress out all day. Keep your home’s humidity below 64 per cent, and wash your bedding in hot water.


Pets, even small pets such as hamsters, gerbils, and birds, all produce allergens — dander, urine, saliva, hair and droppings. If you have a severe allergy to animals, the only cure is to get rid of them. Barring that drastic measure, there’s little you can do to eliminate the source of pet allergens. You can reduce them by isolating your pets from living areas, keeping them off your furniture and carpets, and leaving them outdoors as much as possible. Birds and reptiles also carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans. Young children and babies are particularly susceptible.


In a class by themselves, these pests are another allergen producer. Once again, the droppings are to blame. Cockroaches prefer dark places with sources of food, like behind refrigerators and stoves and around your plumbing under the sink. They reproduce quickly and prolifically, so hire a professional if you find one. And it only takes one to produce a colony. To keep them at bay, seal cracks, clean up food spills immediately, store food in tight containers, seal garbage containers, and repair leaks.

How Do You Deal With Nasal Allergies?

There are several ways to treat nasal allergies, which include antihistamines, allergy shots, nasal sprays, and a healthy amount of Vitamin C. Antihistamines control sneezing and coughing while decongesting your sinuses. Nasal sprays control severe, persistent symptoms on a daily basis. Allergy shots are only used for people who have constant and severe allergic reactions, whereas Vitamin C can be found from many common sources and has natural antihistamine effects.

Many non-prescription medicines for allergies contain a small amount of pseudoephedrine, a potent decongestant and stimulant. Be aware that many of these over the counter allergy medications may make you nervous, restless, or unable to sleep. They can also raise your heart rate and elevate blood pressure, so use with caution. Never take more than the recommended dosage. Long term use of nasal sprays can cause worsened congestion.

Immunotherapy is a process in which your doctor exposes your body to a little bit of an irritating allergen at a time. A person in immunotherapy is given a shot of the specific allergens that have targeted them over about four years. The amount of allergens you are exposed to is increased with every shot, and eventually, your system becomes immune to it.

Get Rid Of The Sprays To Avoid Respiratory Problems And Asthma

Sprays may trigger an asthma attackHousehold sprays comprise of spray cleaners and air fresheners. These materials often use active ingredients which may cause asthma in some adults. Recent studies show that the chances of an asthma attack increase by 30% to 50 % after the use of such domestic cleaning products.

Window cleaning and furniture sprays and air fresheners spread small particles in the air that you can inhale very quickly. Some of the ingredients in the sprays cause irritation and respiratory infections, which may cause severe breathing problems. Some patients may feel chest pain, throat irritation, coughing and wheezing.

If the patient has asthma, a household spray can easily trigger an attack. The small particles enter the lungs and respiratory system, which cause primary symptoms of asthma. The patient starts feeling short of breath, as his respiratory system starts contracting.

You can easily avoid these issues by using alternatives to domestic sprays. Instead of spray hardwood cleaners, use liquid detergents. Studies have shown that liquid cleaners do not affect the respiratory system.

Using eco-friendly domestic cleaning products is another option. Several manufacturers produce organic cleaners, which do not contain harmful and strong chemicals, and they are available in the form of fluids or dry powders.

Make use of bleaches as much as possible. However, you should choose the bleach according to the furniture type. For example, some of the stronger bleaches can harm the wooden furniture when used for cleaning.

The best cleaning solution for any kind of stain is water and vinegar. The solution is mild and does not contain any fragrance. You can apply it to multiple types of surfaces, except the tops of quartz counters. For cleaning a wooden shelf, you can use a damp cloth and static dusters for dusting. Both these things avoid the spread of dust in the air. Dry baking soda can remove stains very effectively. The easiest way to clean a glass surface is to spray water. Wipe the wet surface with paper instead of cloth. This procedure cleans the surface effectively.

Other Hazardous Domestic Detergents You Should Avoid

  1. Plug-in air fresheners that release a constant amount of artificial fragrance into a room to create a pleasant ambience. The fragrances in all air fresheners are very strong, artificial and very bad for you – you’ve probably read the warnings on the cans about concentrating and inhaling the fragrance. While ordinary air fresheners used in the toilet are bad enough for you, we don’t usually breath much of these in – you spray once, then you leave the toilet. But these room scents regularly release toxic chemicals into the main living area. It is much better to stick to fresh air or to use real essential oils to scent your living area. Removing them will also lower your power bill, at least slightly – another bonus.
  2. Toilet bowl cleaners. The best part about these is that they come in bottles with the “duck” head that makes it easy to get under the rim. But they contain some ferocious cleaning chemicals you are likely to encounter – and they’re going to linger in a small room which is sometimes not that well ventilated. Some of the ingredients in a typical toilet bowl cleaner include oxalic acid, hydrochloric acid, lye (caustic soda) and naphthalene. The irony is that the toilet bowl is usually fairly fresh – it gets flushed with clean water regularly (downpipe, the seat and under the rim are another story, however). A good hard scrub with regular detergent or baking soda or even a soak in cola drink can do the job just as well.
  3. Shake-on carpet deodorants. Like the plug-in air fresheners, they release a large barrage of artificial fragrances which are often toxic. The kind you vacuum over to release the fragrance are the worst – you end up breathing in all the particles. These carpet deodorants are particularly hazardous for small children who are often on the floor. If you have a very smelly carpet or if you want to scent your room while vacuuming, mix baking soda with essential oil to be shaken on, or put a few drops of essential oil on the outside of your vacuum cleaner bag.
  4. The cleaning product used in a mechanical dishwasher. These are often extremely caustic and contain very strong alkali. While you can’t use a substitute, powder form is better, as you can regulate the dose (unlike tablets) and contain fewer harmful ingredients than the liquid sort. Make sure your kitchen (or wherever you keep your dishwasher) is well ventilated and try to avoid inhaling the steam when you open the door after a cycle has gone through – the steam is pretty strong. Alternatively, leave the dishwasher to cool before you open it up to put the dishes away. You can also get away with using less powder than is called for and still get clean dishes.
  5. Glass cleaners. These are a mixture of ammonia and water, and you inevitably manage to inhale some when you’re trying to see what you’re doing while window cleaning. Use a vinegar solution instead, and buff with paper towels or a lint-free cloth – or even scrunched up newspaper.
  6. Oven cleaners. These are probably the most toxic chemicals you will encounter (drain cleaners are the others). In my opinion, a dirty oven is less of a hazard than using these chemicals. However, a good scrub out with baking soda works just as well, although it takes more elbow grease (which burns calories and gives you a bit of exercise, so it’ll do you good). Using a baking sheet down the bottom of the oven to catch burnt bits, and replacing it regularly is another good tip for oven cleaning.

About the author 

Nick Vassilev

Nick blogs about cleaning. He is a cleaning expert with more than 25 years of experience. He is also an NCCA-certified carpet cleaner. Founder and CEO of Anyclean.