Eek! Can Your House Be Too Clean?

We all want to avoid disturbing memories of the pizza-encrusted couch cushions that haunt us from our college days. But is it possible that we go too far? Can your house be too clean? Maybe. Here are some things to consider next time you’re ready to scrub the counters with anti-bacterial magic.

Back in the day, homes were cleaned with the basics: you used a broom to sweep, took the rugs outside and beat the dust out of them with a rug-beater, maybe used some vinegar and water on the windows and floors, soap and water for everything else, along with the occasional bleach for difficult-to-clean areas. Baking soda and vinegars were popular cleaning agents all the way through the time the Greatest Generation were raising their families.

It wasn’t until more recently that companies got on the bandwagon advertising for specific types of soap, scrubs, and cleaning fluids. Now we have a myriad of anti-bacterial soaps and sanitizers available to us. Going camping? Bring along a mini hand sanitizer. After the petting zoo, we use anti-bacterial soap.

However, it’s important to remember that bacteria isn’t necessarily all that is terrible and evil in the world. In fact, bacteria can sometimes be beneficial. It helps us build immunities. Experts have found that children who are exposed to a little dirt, dust or pet allergens are less likely to develop allergies, eczema and asthma as they grow older.

We know that preschoolers get sicker more often than their older siblings who have built up immunity from spending their days in school surrounded by coughing, sneezing germ-filled cherubs. In fact, studies show that children who had more exposure to germs while they were in daycare at a very young age are healthier overall than those who spent the early years protected from germs in their parents ultra-clean homes.

So we should sit on the couch eating junk food and leaving the crumbs for the dog to pick up? No. But studies show that sometimes ultra-clean is too clean. So rather than reaching for anti-bacterial soap for every cleaning need, consider using regular soap. Rather than using a harsh chemical to clean something, consider a more natural solution.

As technology and chemistry fuse together cleaning solutions for today’s modern world, many people are concerned that this preponderance of chemicals can be too harsh.

Keep in mind that many chemicals we use in our cleaners are toxic. The most toxic are commonly used to clean drains and toilet bowls. Not only are the harsh fumes bad for humans, but they also go down the drain and impact the environment. Consider reading the labels. Although many products won’t list their ingredients, look for warnings such as “WARNING” or “DANGER” or “POISON.” These will indicate the product may be harmful to you, your family and/or the environment.

To avoid the harsh chemicals, many people are turning toward more natural cleaning solutions. Those with ingredients that are easy to pronounce are popular, and others are back to cleaning the way Grandma did – with baking soda, vinegar, and of course, soap and water.

Definitely we need to keep our homes clean, and definitely we need to wash our hands. But as Grandma used to lecture, “everything in moderation.” Consider using natural products and avoid going overboard in your quest for a clean floor or countertop. Soap and water has been doing the trick for many, many years. It still seems to work today.

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