Cleaning the house is as bad for women’s lungs as smoking a packet of cigarettes a day.

However using cleaning products had no effect on men’s lungs, research showed.

Researched assessed the lungs of 6,235 women and men at 22 centres – and then checked on them again over the course of twenty years, shares Daily Mail.

They were asked whether they cleaned their own house, or whether they worked as professional cleaners. They were also asked how often they used liquid cleaning products and sprays.

The research found that women who cleaned – either around the house as little as once a week or as professional cleaners – had an ‘accelerated’ decline in lung capacity.

The drop in lung function in both groups was comparable to smoking a pack of 20 cigarettes for between 10-20 years.

The authors warn that cleaning for women ‘may constitute a risk to respiratory health’.

No effect was found on the lungs of men who did the cleaning – either professionally, or just as part of their domestic chores.

The authors – led by researchers at the University of Bergen – said that a variety of potential irritants to the lungs are found in domestic products – including bleach and ammonia.

No significant difference was found between using cleaning sprays and cleaning liquids – a surprise to the researchers who expected sprays to have more impact on the lungs.

The authors write: ‘Women cleaning at home or working as occupational cleaners had accelerated decline in lung function, suggesting that exposures related to cleaning activities may constitute a risk to long-term respiratory health.’

Explaining the medical effects on the lungs, the researchers said ‘low-grade inflammation over many years could possibly lead to persistent damage to the airways, alternatively, persistent damage could result from continued exposure after onset of cleaning-related asthma.’

They added that it was well documented that ‘airway irritants such as ammonia and bleach’ (both found in household products such as bleach and toilet cleaner) cause ‘fibrotic’ changes to the lung tissue – scarring of the lungs.

The researchers suggest that people should use bleach to clean less – as ‘water and a microfibre cloth’ are sufficient for most cleaning tasks.

I think this really highlights to us how important it is to use natural cleaning products and ditch the chemicals.

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  • It’s amazing how well bicarb of soda and water will clean without causing any noxious gases.


  • There are a lot of products that have an affect on me. I now use ecoworx and haven’t had any adverse reactions whatsoever. Brilliant. It is curious though why it’s only women who are affected so badly


  • I can’t use ammonia at all. The fumes from it make my eyes run and sting almost immediately. It is surprising what you can clean with white vinegar. What’s more it acts as a sterilizer.


  • Wow, I have started to move to more natural cleaners. I do find the smell of other cleaners stays with me longer. I have a cleaner also come in once a week and she now won’t use certain cleaners etc. This has prompted my move to more environmentally friendly versions. She is noticing issues on her skin etc. from normal cleaning. Thanks for the article. It will prompt me to do more.


  • I’ve never had a steamer. Interesting. But can you use it on laminated floors?


  • I actually don’t use a lot of chemicals- I occasionally use bleach to remove stains on whites, but as I have a steamer most of my cleaning is chemical free. I only use shower wipes which I think would be okay and multipurpose spray for the benches once a week. I higher recommend purchasing a steamer they make cleaning so easy and eliminate the need for nasty chemicals.


  • I agree would have been nice to have had more info.


  • I also would have liked further clarification as to why it doesn’t effect men as it does women. Nevertheless thanks for the interesting article, even more reason to use natural cleaning products, cheers.


  • Interesting ! I’m curious why it doesn’t effect males. Would be nice if that was a bit more explained in this article. Cleaning with white vinegar ( not the cleaning vinegar, but the one you can also consume) and baking soda goes a long way !


  • I need to show my hubby this so he stops complaining about me not cleaning!


  • well I may never clean again


  • If it doesn’t affect males then I have some bad news for my husband… cleaning is now his job ????????


  • Another reason indeed to avoid chemicals when we clean.


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