Cleaning Too Much is as Dangerous as Smoking? Let the Debunking Begin!

A bizarre article came out last month about the dangers of cleaning. The study claims that too much cleaning is as dangerous as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. I think most people would do a double take on that claim, especially us janitors. So lets have some fun and debunk this nonsense.

First of all, here is the article:

Study Reveals Too Much Cleaning As Dangerous As Smoking a Pack of Cigarettes Per Day

And here is a quick summary:

The human immune systems gets stronger as we are exposed to germs and bacteria. This is true
Cleaning with harsh chemicals exposes you to the dangers of harsh chemicals. This is also true.
The study followed 6000 women over a 20 year period and then measured lung function.

So the first obvious flaw is that 20 years is a long time and as we know, each individual is exposed to a different environment. Did any of these women work in an industrial plant? Did any of them live in polluted cities? Did any of them live with smokers? Over a long period, these women were exposed to a wide range of environments that could have impacted lung function. Its very difficult to isolate just cleaning. I think any research scientist would have issues with drawing any kind of conclusion from this type of study.

Human Immune System

Of course its true that our immune system gets stronger as we are exposed to more germs. However, you are going to be exposed to germs naturally by being out in public. Touching counters at retail stores, shaking hands and just being around people will build your immune system. Unless you are a hermit that never leaves the house and cleans non-stop, it is not likely your cleaning is hurting your immune system.

Harsh Cleaning Products

Yes. Harsh cleaning products are not good for your health!! As professional cleaners, we take this seriously and rarely use harsh chemicals. This is critical for keeping our employees and clients safe. When we do use harsher chemicals for specialized cleaning, we use PPE. We also advise everyone to avoid harsh chemicals when cleaning themselves.

For us, the first step is using a green cleaning product. Our primary green cleaning solution is called Envirox. It can be used on about 95% of our cleaning. The standard dilution is used for wiping down offices, furniture, window frames, rails and most areas that don’t normally get filthy. We also use it for daily mopping. The heavier dilution provides better sanitation and is used for restrooms and toilets.

The only time we go to harsher chemicals is for major spills, stains, scale removal or floor restoration. A few things you can do to help keep you safe

  • Wear a mask when cleaning
  • Wear gloves when cleaning
  • Don’t spray chemicals in the air them breath them even with a mask
  • Use a green cleaning product for wiping things down
  • Only break out harsher chemicals for stains or scale removal

Using the Right Tools

One of the best ways to avoid harsh cleaning products is to use the right tools. Most of the time, the right cleaning equipment and processes help you clean better than the chemical.

A good example is removing stains in toilets. We see people dumping heavy chemicals in the toilet then trying to scrub it away. You can use a pumice stone with no chemicals to break away the stains then follow it up with a cleaning solution and toilet brush.


The article is wrong.

It is filled with half truths. Certainly if you use the harshest chemicals, breath them in, never use gloves, you will damage your health.

But for most people with a shred of common sense, cleaning will definitely improve your health.

Also, the study seemed to be fairly unscientific. People write these articles for shock value. Unfortunately, someone might read it and live the rest of their lives in filth thinking they might live longer. Don’t be that person.