Can The Way We Clean Our Homes Affect Lupus? 

September 6, 2019

Can The Way We Clean Our Homes Affect Lupus? 

The way you clean your home could be making your lupus worse. Regular use of cleaning sprays is as bad for your health as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. A study following 6,000 people over 20 years found that people, in particular women, experience significant health problems after long term use of cleaning products. The cleaning products we use every day contribute to poor indoor air pollution that can kill 3.8 million people around the world each year. For people with lupus or another autoimmune disease, it’s even more important that the cleansers you use to clean and freshen your home are safe, non-toxic and gentle on your health.

Indoor Environment And Auto-Immune Diseases

Around 90% of our time is spent indoors, whether it’s at home, at work, college or working out in the gym. While the environment may look clean and the surfaces, computers or even gym equipment might look free from germs, every day we are breathing in air that contains pollutants from cleaning products. Many cleansers, air fresheners and disinfectants contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which can be harmful to anybody if inhaled or touched, causing skin allergies, headaches, dizziness and irate the eyes, nose and throat. They are particularly dangerous for a person who already has a weakened immune system caused by lupus or another autoimmune disease. While VOCs have become more strictly regulated in recent years, they still exist in many of the products we use every day.

Switch To Natural Cleaners

It is often recommended that you use gloves when handling cleaning products to avoid skin irritation from contact with the cleaning solution. However, the chemicals in your cleaning products often will remain on the surface and in the air long after you have finished cleaning. While many people won’t experience any effect of the chemical residue, for a person with a pre-existing autoimmune disease, it can trigger a serious flare-up in their condition. Avoid using harsh cleaning products especially on high traffic surfaces such as the bathtub, toilet seats and countertops. Instead, use a baking soda scrub on bathroom surfaces and a lemon and vinegar solution on kitchen surfaces.

Avoid Harmful Detergents

Laundry detergents are often full of harsh cleaning agents and harmful fragrances. Some brands also contain softeners and optical-brighteners which stay on your fabrics long after they’ve been washed. This means that you are likely to be walking around with toxins and allergens on your clothes and body. Even for people who don’t have an auto-immune disease, it can cause skin irritations. For anyone living with lupus, asthma, eczema and other inflammatory conditions, prolonged exposure to these chemicals can often exacerbate their existing condition. To eliminate these chemicals from your environment, avoid detergents that contain harsh cleaners and optical brighteners. Use natural and fragrance-free alternatives or make your own laundry solution with baking soda and Epsom salt.

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help

Cleaning can take a lot out of a person with a chronic illness and is often a task avoided due to feeling constantly fatigued. Alternatively, they may simply ignore what their body is telling them and go ahead and clean their house, only to pay for it soon afterward. It can be difficult to ask people for help, especially when you are trying to live as independent life as possible. But enlisting the help of a trusted friend or family member can help you to keep your house clean and safe, while also ensuring you don’t go beyond your limits. If you are determined to do the cleaning yourself, then help yourself by reducing clutter with good organization. Create a daily routine that’s achievable even on a bad day and try to pick up as you go so it doesn’t mount up.

Even though you might live with an auto-immune disease, that doesn’t mean that you are happy to compromise on the upkeep of your home. However, with the harsh ingredients contained in many big brand cleaning products, it’s important that you think about what you are using in your home that could have an impact on your health. Switching to natural products is a good way of reducing the toxins in your home. Meanwhile, asking for help, or accepting the help offered to you to clean should not be seen as a negative. Your health is too important.

Written by Jess Walter