Health | Did You Know

Cleaning Products Are Just As Bad For You As Smoking 20 Cigarettes A Day, Says New Study

Most us of care a lot about our well-being. We're always in search for ways to improve our health and overall quality of life, but what if I told you that there is a silent killer lurking in your home and you probably never even noticed.

We're all familiar with warnings on the bottles of chemically formulated household cleaning products, right? In addition to reminding us that they're flammable, the label almost always urges us to be cautious about their toxicity, especially when ingested.

This warning is usually about the instant side effects the product could have on our bodies if it were to enter our system, but did you know these cleaning products can also have some terrible long-term effects on our health?

A new study published in the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine analyzed the health of over 6,200 individuals over the course of 20 years, and the results are alarming.

Researchers discovered that there is a strong correlation between deteriorating lung function and cleaning products. Apparently, those who regularly used cleaning products had  lungs comparable to someone who smoked 20 cigarettes a day for decades.

"When you think of inhaling small particles from cleaning agents that are meant for cleaning the floor and not your lungs, maybe the news is not so surprising after all," explained the study's lead author Oistein Staves.

If that wasn't shocking enough, the research team found that one gender in particular seems to be more at risk.

The study examined both men and women, but the researchers found that lung deterioration brought on by cleaning products was more prevalent in women.

The test was carried out by measuring the lung capacity of the participants, which is conducted by looking at how much air each person could forcibly exhale.

The results showed that women who regularly cleaned at home, their volume per second declined 3.6 milliliters faster than normal. As for females who worked as cleaners, their capacity was reduced 3.9 ml faster every year.

These women were also at the risk of developing complications like asthma. Although the risk is higher in those who cleaned at work.


It is believed that the inhaling of the chemicals present in these products irritates the mucous membranes of the airways, and over time, this could cause severe lung problems.

So what can you do to protect yourself?

Svanes advises people to ditch the cleaning products containing harsh chemicals, and replace them with natural options like hot water.

"The take home message of this study is that in the long run cleaning chemicals very likely cause rather substantial damage to your lungs," he said. Adding, "These chemicals are usually unnecessary; microfiber cloths and water are more than enough for most purposes."

Well ladies, it looks like it's time to let the fellas take care of some of the cleaning. If you've had trouble trying to convince your partner to help with the wiping and scrubbing, now you have science to back you up.  

Do you use chemical cleaning products at home or at work? Let us know in the comments!

Blair isn't a bestselling author, but she has a knack for beautiful prose. When she isn't writing for Shared, she enjoys listening to podcasts.