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Spring cleaning dilemma: How much disinfecting is too much? – National | Globalnews.ca

As the warmer spring weather arrives, many Canadians are preparing for the annual ritual of deep cleaning their homes to remove every speck of dust and dirt. But amid the hustle and bustle of scrubbing and disinfecting, the question arises: How clean should your house be?

Spring cleaning is traditionally a time when people tackle tasks around the house that they don’t normally get around to, whether it’s cleaning out the garage, deep cleaning the oven, or finally organizing that messy junk drawer that they’ve had all year over persecuted.

“We’re trying to create a fresher environment,” explained Jason Tetro, an Edmonton-based microbiologist and emerging pathogen specialist.

“So cleaning and removing dust is a really good thing. It helps reduce the potential for inflammation. Spring cleaning is absolutely fantastic when it comes to preventing irritation, asthma and other types of allergies.”

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According to a study, 59 percent of Canadians participate in annual spring cleaning Ipsos survey 2022 carried out for the cleaning products manufacturer Libman Company. The survey also found that spring cleaning could have a positive impact on people’s health: 90 percent of respondents emphasized the importance of a clean home for mental well-being, closely followed by concerns about physical health, with 89 percent expressing similar views.

If you decide to take part in spring cleaning, Tetro emphasizes the difference between cleaning and disinfecting, noting that they serve two different purposes. While cleaning can improve aesthetics or leave a pleasant scent, disinfection is about eliminating germs.

Tetro recommended a targeted hygiene approach to disinfection, focusing on the areas most likely to harbor pathogens.

Is it OK to clean your house excessively?

Many people may not enjoy the sight of dirt and dust and feel compelled to thoroughly scrub their homes from top to bottom to create a fresher atmosphere, Tetro said.

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“There’s nothing wrong with that. Things get a little different when you disinfect absolutely everything,” he said. “If you want to disinfect everything so there are no more microbes, you will fail because the germiest place in every house is you.”

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Once a person enters a room, millions of microbes can be excreted from them, he said. For this reason, completely disinfecting a home is virtually impossible because microbes are always present in the environment.

He pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the idea of ​​disinfecting everything. However, he said the virus could be easily killed with soap and water.


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While some people may want to disinfect their entire home, others may be inclined to leave the dirt behind because they believe it is good for their immune system.

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This is called Hygiene hypothesis, which argues that exposure to certain germs is essential for the proper development of the immune system. According to this hypothesis, a lack of exposure to these pathogens may lead to an increased risk of allergic and autoimmune diseases later in life due to improved sanitation and sanitation practices.

However, Tetro argued that living in a clean house is unlikely to harm the immune system. If anything, dust sweeping and disinfecting the toilet can even help reduce allergies and illnesses.

“Frankly, living in an urban environment prevents you from having that exposure,” he said. “Basically it’s just about being indoors and not having any contact with the outside world. That’s why you want to get kids out in nature when it comes to exposure to the microbes.”

In other words: a little dirt doesn’t hurt anyone.

“The reality is that you will never get the exposure you want indoors. “You have to go outside to get that visibility,” he said, adding that it could be a garden, a farm, a forest or a playground.

What should you disinfect?

As spring cleaning approaches, Tetro said to think about implementing a targeted hygiene strategy. This method requires you to focus your efforts on areas that are most susceptible to pathogen colonization. By prioritizing these locations, you can effectively reduce the risk of illness.

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These places include the bathroom, sink, and kitchen countertop, as well as frequently touched items such as the remote control, door handles, keyboard, and a cell phone.


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“It’s the places where there’s feces or places where you know there’s a possibility of sick people coming in and moving around,” he said.

However, the ottoman, a dresser, or vertical blinds may not be places that need to be disinfected regularly.

How to clean with chemicals

Soap and water are very helpful in cleaning the house, Tetro said. However, if you want to do a deep cleaning with hydrogen peroxide or bleach, make sure the room is well ventilated.

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He warned that bleach can cause irritation and trigger headaches.

According to Health Canada, Household bleach can be used to kill bacteria, fungi, or viruses, but if handled improperly, it can irritate or burn skin, eyes, or lungs. Mixing bleach with other cleaning products can produce toxic gases, so it’s important to avoid this.

The health agency also recommends ensuring adequate ventilation by opening windows or doors and running exhaust fans during and after using bleach. It is also recommended to wear safety glasses and rubber gloves to protect eyes and skin when handling the product.

&Copy 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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