Health Risks and Perceptions of Cleaning Products

Health Risks and Perceptions of Cleaning Products

Did you know that the cleaning products you use daily could be posing serious health risks to you and your family?

Health Risks and Perceptions of Cleaning Products

Understanding the Hidden Health Risks of Everyday Cleaning Products

Cleaning products are widely used in both professional and household settings, playing a crucial role in maintaining cleanliness and hygiene.

However, there are growing concerns about the potential health risks associated with these products.

Many common cleaning agents contain chemicals that can cause respiratory issues, skin and eye irritation, and even neurological symptoms.

Understanding these risks and how to mitigate them is essential for safe and effective cleaning practices.


Health Risks Associated with Cleaning Products

Respiratory Issues

Exposure to cleaning products can significantly impact respiratory health, especially for those with pre-existing conditions like asthma.

  • Asthma Exacerbation: Cleaning agents can worsen asthma and contribute to its development.
  • Respiratory Symptoms: Common symptoms include coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
  • Poor Ventilation: Increased risk in poorly ventilated areas.

Skin Irritation

Direct contact with cleaning agents can lead to various skin issues.

  • Dermatitis: Red, inflamed, and itchy skin caused by chemicals in cleaning products.
  • Prolonged Exposure: Worsens symptoms and may lead to severe skin conditions.
  • Preventive Measures: Use of protective gloves and following safety guidelines.

Eye Irritation

The fumes from cleaning products and the risk of direct splashes can cause significant eye irritation.

  • Common Symptoms: Redness, tearing, and itching.
  • Severe Cases: Improper handling can lead to more serious eye injuries.
  • Safety Tips: Use protective eyewear and ensure proper ventilation.

Neurological Symptoms

Inhalation of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) present in many cleaning products can lead to various neurological symptoms.

  • Headaches and Dizziness: Common symptoms from high VOC exposure.
  • Fatigue: Extended exposure can lead to chronic tiredness.
  • Mitigation: Use cleaning products in well-ventilated areas and take regular breaks to reduce exposure.


Research Findings on Health Risks

Asthma and Respiratory Issues

Research has shown a significant link between cleaning products and respiratory health problems.

  • Increased Asthma Risk: Exposure to specific cleaning agents, such as bleach, ammonia, and disinfectants, is associated with a higher risk of developing asthma.
  • Respiratory Issues: These chemicals can also exacerbate existing respiratory conditions, leading to symptoms like coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.

Source: Siracusa et al., 2013

Eco-Friendly Products

Despite being marketed as safer alternatives, eco-friendly cleaning products can still pose health risks.

  • Consumer Misconceptions: Many consumers believe that natural or eco-friendly cleaning products are inherently safer.
  • Health Risks: Research indicates that these products can still cause respiratory and skin issues, highlighting the need for cautious use and proper safety measures.


Perceptions and Misconceptions

Eco-Friendly Products

There is a widespread belief that natural or eco-friendly cleaning products are inherently safer than their conventional counterparts.

  • Common Belief: Many consumers assume that natural or eco-friendly products pose fewer health risks.
  • Research Findings: Studies indicate that these products can still cause health issues, such as respiratory and skin problems, and should be used with caution.

Household vs. Professional Products

There are notable differences in how consumers perceive the risks associated with household versus professional cleaning products.

  • Risk Perception: Household cleaning products are often viewed as less hazardous compared to professional-grade products.
  • Health Risks: Both household and professional cleaning products can pose significant health risks, underscoring the importance of proper handling and safety measures for all types of cleaning agents.


Risk Mitigation and Safe Practices

Proper Ventilation

Ensuring adequate ventilation is crucial when using cleaning products to minimize inhalation exposure.

  • Open Windows and Doors: Increase airflow by opening windows and doors while cleaning.
  • Use Exhaust Fans: Turn on exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens to help remove fumes.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Using appropriate PPE can significantly reduce the risk of skin and eye contact with harmful cleaning agents.

  • Gloves: Wear gloves to protect your hands from direct contact with cleaning chemicals.
  • Masks: Use masks to avoid inhaling harmful fumes, especially in poorly ventilated areas.
  • Eye Protection: Wear safety goggles to prevent splashes and fumes from irritating your eyes.

Safe Storage and Use

Proper storage and use of cleaning products are essential for preventing accidents and minimizing health risks.

  • Storage: Keep cleaning products out of reach of children and pets. Store them in a cool, dry place, away from food and beverages.
  • Label Instructions: Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for safe use and dilution. Never mix different cleaning products as it can create dangerous chemical reactions.

Choosing Safer Alternatives

Opting for safer alternatives can reduce exposure to harmful chemicals and promote a healthier environment.

  • Fewer Harmful Chemicals: Look for products labeled as free from harsh chemicals such as bleach and ammonia.
  • DIY Cleaning Solutions: Consider making your own cleaning solutions using basic ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice. These alternatives can be effective and safer for regular use.



  1. Siracusa, A., De Blay, F., Folletti, I., Moscato, G., Olivieri, M., Quirce, S., Raulf-Heimsoth, M., Sastre, J., Tarlo, S. M., Walusiak-Skorupa, J., & Zock, J.-P. . (2013). Asthma and exposure to cleaning products - a European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology task force consensus statement. Allergy, 68(12), 1532–1545.
  2. ‌Bearth, A., Miesler, L., & Siegrist, M. (2016). Consumers’ Risk Perception of Household Cleaning and Washing Products. Risk Analysis, 37(4), 647–660.



Whether used in household or professional settings, cleaning products pose various health risks.

These include respiratory issues such as asthma exacerbation, skin conditions like dermatitis, eye irritation, and neurological symptoms from VOC inhalation.

Even eco-friendly products can cause significant health problems if not used with caution.

Adopting safe practices when using cleaning products is essential for minimizing health risks.

Ensure proper ventilation, use personal protective equipment, store products safely, and follow label instructions carefully.

Additionally, consider choosing products with fewer harmful chemicals or making your own cleaning solutions using natural ingredients.

By being aware of the potential health impacts and taking appropriate precautions, you can protect yourself and others from the adverse effects of cleaning agents.

If you would like more information regarding the effectiveness of high-performance infection prevention and control measures, or if you would like to schedule a free, no-obligation on-site assessment of your facility's custodial needs, contact us today for a free quote!

In Bakersfield, CA, call (661) 437-3253

In Fresno, CA, call (559) 206-1059

In Valencia, CA, or Santa Clarita, CA, call (661) 437-3253

In Palmdale, CA, or Lancaster, CA, call (661) 371-4756

Vanguard Cleaning Systems of the Southern Valley

Vanguard Cleaning Systems of the Southern Valley