Keeping your home clean is important to anyone’s overall health.
However, for people with chronic lung diseases, such as COPD, pulmonary fibrosis, emphysema and chronic bronchitis, keeping your home clean can be the difference between a symptom flare-up and successfully managing your condition.
With your health in mind, here are some simple cleaning tips for people with lung disease.
Avoid Harsh Chemicals
While it’s important to protect your health by keeping your home clean, many cleaning supplies, household products and even personal grooming supplies can irritate the eyes and throat, causing headaches and worsening lung disease symptoms.
Some products release chemicals, such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and others contain harmful ingredients, including ammonia and bleach. Even some natural fragrances such as citrus can react to produce dangerous indoor pollutants.
VOCs and other chemicals or fumes released from cleaning supplies can contribute to chronic respiratory conditions, allergic reactions and headaches.
The Best Non-Toxic Ways to Clean
Remember to read all labels on cleaning supplies and household products before buying them. Choose products that do not contain or have reduced VOCs, fragrances, irritants or flammable ingredients.
Keep in mind that products labeled “green” are not necessarily safer. If you are using household cleaning products, keep the area where you’re cleaning well-ventilated.
If you feel any of your lung disease symptoms worsening, stop cleaning and go into another room.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lists products that meet its Safer Choice requirements, which includes a variety of cleaning products.
Read through the list and discuss these cleaning options with your doctor before using them.
Simple Cleaning Tips for People with Lung Disease
To help you keep your home and environment clean, reduce potential irritants.
Place mattresses and pillow cases in dust mite-proof zippered cases. Wash your sheets and bedding weekly at high temperatures to kill dust mites.
Be mindful of temperature and outdoor air quality reports, keeping your windows closed during days of high pollution. If you decide to purify the air in your home, HEPA filters as well as natural air purifiers are good choices.
Window treatments, curtains and carpet collect allergens, so it’s important to keep them clean or consider getting rid of them.
Smoke irritates the lungs, so if you have friends who smoke, ask them not to smoke around you or to smoke outdoors and away from your home.
Simple cleaning supplies that are unscented or fragrance-free will help reduce indoor irritants, so try cleaning with products such as hydrogen peroxide, warm water, soap, baking soda and vinegar.
Never mix chlorine bleach and ammonia, which creates a toxic vapor.
For some people, their chronic lung disease makes everyday tasks challenging or nearly impossible to do.
Remember that it’s okay to hire someone to clean your house with non-toxic, simple, fragrance-free cleaners, and it is okay for you to ask for the windows to be left open for good ventilation.
By the time you get home, your house will be clean and any possible smell will be gone. While your house is being cleaned, enjoy a meal with a family member or friend.
Christine Kingsley, APRN is the Health and Wellness Director at the Lung Institute where she focuses on providing helpful online resources for people looking for information on various lung diseases, breathing exercises, and healthy lifestyle choices. She advocates for holistic care that involves working with your doctor to explore all options including traditional and alternative care while focusing on diet and exercise as proactive measures.