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Air Quality and Household Cleaners: How Do They Mix?

Apart from the aesthetic benefits, it’s a well-known fact that keeping your home clean is essential to health, reducing irritating dust, allergens, and other infectious agents that can pose harm to you and your family. Unfortunately, chemical components and particulates in the household cleaners you use to keep your home ship-shape can be a double-edged sword, reducing indoor air quality and effecting your health negatively.

How dangerous are household cleaners?

Household cleaners can release dangerous VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and other toxic substances into indoor air. Very little is known about the concentrations reached during a typical cleaning routine, or how those concentrations contribute to exposure-related symptoms. Common household cleaners and dangers they pose are wide and troubling:

Air fresheners

•Eye, skin, and nasal irritation, cancer, nervous system damage, and respiratory problems including fluid in the lungs.


•Irritation of nasal passages, mouth and lungs, and skin damage.

Carpet/upholstery cleaner

•Dizziness, confusion, decreased appetite, and nausea. With long-term exposure, liver damage, cataracts, and possibly cancer.

Drain cleaners

•Skin burns and blindness if splashed into eyes.

Furniture polish

•Respiratory, skin, and eye irritation. Nausea and vomiting if ingested.

General/multi-purpose cleaners

•Rashes or burns, eye and lung irritation, and potentially lethal gases if mixed with ammonia or bleach.

Laundry detergent

•Eye and skin irritation. Nausea, vomiting, and seizures if ingested.

Oven cleaners

•Severe burns to eyes and skin. Possibly fatal if ingested.

Mold/mildew remover

•Severe burns to eyes and skin. Possibly fatal if swallowed.

Toilet bowl cleaner

•Skin burns, eye and lung irritation, and possibly cancer.

For simple cleaning needs, go “au-natural…”

Opt for products that are low-VOC, low toxicity, biodegradable, and environmentally friendly. Keep in mind, however, manufacturers are not required by law to list all ingredients and green claims may be overstated. To ensure the purchase of an environmentally friendly product, you may need to contact manufacturers directly for a specific definition of their green claims. Too much of a headache? Try making your own cleaning products as-needed by keeping just a few simple items on hand, such as baking soda, vinegar, borax, white vinegar, washing soda, isopropyl alcohol, lemon, cornstarch, and petroleum-free soaps. And remember, using more natural cleaners not only keeps your indoor environment healthier, but the outdoors as well, preserving water quality, protecting fish and wildlife, and reducing outdoor smog.

If you must use chemical household cleaners, protect yourself:

  • Strictly follow all product use guidelines.
  • Rely on natural cleaning and deodorizing methods rather than chemical air fresheners.
  • Protect yourself by wearing safety goggles, gloves, and long shirts/pants.
  • Ensure the area you are cleaning is well-ventilated to reduce the inhalation of vapors.
  • Avoid cleaning when children are present. Ventilate before their return.
  • Never mix bleach or bleach-containing cleaners with those containing ammonia. To do so could result in the creation of potentially fatal gases.

Concerned about your indoor air quality?

The friendly professionals at Aire Serv®, a NeighborlyLink opens in a new tab company, can help you find the perfect solution to your home’s indoor air quality issues, offering:

  • Air duct cleaning to reduce airborne irritants.
  • High efficiency air filters for improved air filtration via your heating and air conditioning system.
  • Air purifiers to aid in the removal of harmful pollutants from the air.
  • Mechanical ventilation to ensure the exchange of clean, fresh outdoor air for stale indoor air.
  • Dehumidifiers to stop the proliferation of mold, mildew, bacteria, dust mites, and more.

Don’t let your cleaning routine jeopardize the health of you and your family. Preserve your indoor air quality by contacting Aire Serv today!