Study Says Cleaning Your House 'Can Be As Bad For You As Smoking'

Some people just can't be bothered to clean their house - no matter how many times their parents or partners beg them to pick up the hoover, they'd rather live happily in squalor.

Well, dishcloth-dodgers have the perfect excuse as scientists have claimed that cleaning your home can be just as damaging to your lungs as smoking.

Researchers at the University of Bergen, Norway found that women who worked as cleaners, or had regularly used cleaning sprays for 20 years, had decline in their lung function equivalent to if they'd been smoking 20 cigarettes a day over the same period.

The study, published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, also found that inhaling the chemicals contained in cleaning products also increased the risk of asthma by up to 43% over that twenty year span.

While previous studies have looked at how cleaning chemicals affect people's health in the short-term, this is one of the first to explore their long-term impact.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

"In the long run, cleaning chemicals very likely cause rather substantial damage to your lungs," said the lead author of the study, Prof Oistein Svanes.

"When you think of inhaling small particles from cleaning agents that are meant for cleaning the floor and not your lungs, maybe it is not so surprising after all."

The researchers tracked the health of 6,000 adults over a 20 year period, looking at data from the European Community Respiratory Health Survey.

The scientists found that the amount of air women who cleaned could forcibly exhale declined more over time than in women who didn't, hinting at a decline in the cleaners' lung function.

They believe that regularly breathing in cleaning chemicals slowly irritates the lining of the airways, leading to long-term lung damage.

Prof Cecile Svanes, who also worked on the study, said: "We feared that such chemicals, by steadily causing a little damage to the airways day after day, year after year, might accelerate the rate of lung function decline that occurs with age."


As you might have noticed above, the study surprisingly found that women were more badly affected by the impact of cleaning chemicals than men.

The academics found there was no difference in long-term lung function between men who said they regularly cleaned and those who did not.

The researchers suggested this could be because far fewer men tend to work as cleaners. However, they added that it is possible that women are simply more vulnerable to the chemicals' effects.

All the better reason for them to make men do the cleaning then. Hard luck, LADs.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

Prof Oistein Svanes added that cleaning chemicals are 'usually unnecessary' to use, saying that a good old microfibre cloth and water are 'more than enough for most purposes.'

UK experts have now advised that if you keep your windows open and don't use sprays, you'll avoid wrecking your lungs in the long term.

Sarah MacFadyen, from the British Lung Foundation: "Breathing in any kind of air pollution can have an impact on our health, especially for those living with a lung condition.

"This study further confirms that air pollution can come from a range of sources, including from paints, adhesives and cleaning products we use indoors.

"Ensuring we keep our homes well ventilated, using liquid cleaners instead of sprays and checking that our cookers and heaters are in good working order will help protect us and prevent everyday products impacting on our lungs."

So put that cleaning spray down and get your butt back on the sofa. You might not believe it now, but it's probably better for you.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Chris Ogden

Chris Ogden is a journalist at LADbible. He graduated from the University of East Anglia with degrees in English Literature and Creative Writing before completing his NCTJ Diploma in Multimedia Journalism. Chris has previously written for the independent culture magazine The Skinny, among other publications.

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