Spring cleaning: A lot of chemicals and excessive hygiene can also make you sick
Spring cleaning is due in many households in Germany: Then it's time to clean windows, clean cupboards, remove dust from carpets and wipe floors. The thoroughness of some people often knows no limits when cleaning. The Federal Environment Agency and experts from the consumer advice centers therefore recommend caution: aggressive cleaning agents do not only damage the bacteria and germs, but may also damage your own health. The consequences include skin reactions, allergies and burns to the mucous membranes. In addition, chemical cleaning agents pollute the environment excessively.
Most chemical cleaning agents are superfluous
The manufacturers advertise with the "power of cleaning agents" to fight bacteria, germs and fungi. But chemical cleaning agents do not mean more hygiene or health protection. According to the latest studies, the Germans use around 78,000 tons of universal cleaners and about 29,000 tons of abrasive cleaners per year to clean their own homes. However, most chemical clubs are completely unnecessary, as reported by the Federal Environment Agency. In principle, four means are sufficient to clean your own four walls.
Simple home remedies, scouring agents and detergents are sufficient
A neutral cleaner is sufficient for the floors, tiles and other smooth surfaces. Abrasive is useful for stubborn dirt, detergent is sufficient for cleaning windows and household vinegar or natural citric acid is suitable for removing limescale. Stains on upholstered furniture or carpets can best be removed with soap foam or a lukewarm mild detergent solution. Consumers should ensure that the products on offer have the "European Ecolabel" issued by the German Institute for Quality Assurance and Labeling (RAL) on the label. The "European Ecolabel" marks products that are characterized by special environmental compatibility and comparatively low health impacts.
Health hazards from chemical clubs
Numerous cleaning products advertise that they are said to "provide more purity with antibacterial additives". In the opinion of consumer advocates, such additives are completely unnecessary. Disinfectants and antibacterial cleaning agents also destroy valuable skin flora bacteria. Recent studies indicate that overuse of these agents has led to an increase in allergies. In addition, the chemical substances can trigger eczema and allergic skin reactions because the body's immune system is damaged. If the body's defense system is weakened, "diseases can develop even more," warn the experts. Some disinfectants may also alter the genome or even promote cancer. There are also several research projects that indicate this. Although the advertising suggests that cleaners with antimicrobial additives provide more hygiene, their actual effectiveness has not yet been clearly proven.
Many disinfectant cleaning agents on the market contain chemical substances that can be dangerous for the human organism. For example, the substance triclosan is absorbed through contact with the skin and intervenes in the process of detoxifying the liver. Another substance that can be dangerous to health is sodium hypochlorite. This is contained in a great many substances and can release chlorine. The skin can be irritated by contact and the mucous membranes can be damaged by inhalation.
Do not mix cleaning agents
Under no circumstances should this type of cleaner be mixed with other cleaning agents as chemical reactions can lead to serious poisoning. In addition, disinfectants are extremely harmful to the environment because organisms in the water are killed and the cleaning of the water in sewage treatment plants is disturbed.
Exaggerated hygiene harmful to children
Excessively practiced hygiene does not make sense even if children live in the household. On the contrary: if there is an almost clinical atmosphere, children cannot train their immune systems. Germs that children otherwise come into contact with in the home are therefore useful, because this is the only way for the immune system to learn what it must do in the future to prevent serious illnesses.
Therefore: A little more effort with vinegar cleaners is worthwhile to save chemicals when cleaning. The only condition: cleaning utensils such as wipers or rags should be changed frequently. Alternatively, cleaning rags can also be boiled out so that pathogens don't stand a chance.
The Federal Environment Agency invites you to fitness for motivation. Without fiddling with chemistry, it usually means using more strength. A person with an average body weight consumes around 80 kilocalories when cleaning the windows, provided that it takes a good 15 minutes to clean. Another 15 minutes of dusty fizz will cause you to consume a good 40 kilocalories. When wiping the floors or cleaning the tiles, another 74 calories are added. (sb)
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