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Spring Cleaning Dilemma: How Much Disinfection Is Too Much? – National | Globalnews.ca

As spring warms up, many Canadians are preparing for the annual ritual of deep cleaning their homes, aimed at removing all traces of dust and dirt. But amid the frenzy of scrubbing and disinfecting, one question arises: How clean should your home be?

Spring cleaning is traditionally a time when people tackle tasks around the house that they usually can’t handle, whether it’s emptying the garage, deep cleaning the oven, or finally cleaning. ‘organize that messy junk drawer that haunts them all year round.

“What we’re trying to do is create a cooler environment,” said Jason Tetro, an Edmonton-based microbiologist and specialist in emerging pathogens.

“And so cleaning, getting rid of the dust, it’s a really good thing to do.” This helps reduce the risk of inflammation. Spring cleaning is absolutely fantastic when it comes to preventing the risk of irritation, asthma and any other type of allergies.

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Eliminate Clutter with TLC Kitchen Cupboard Tips


Fifty-nine percent of Canadians participate in annual spring cleaning, according to a 2022 Ipsos survey conducted for cleaning products manufacturer Libman Company. The survey also found that spring cleaning could have positive implications for people’s health, with 90 percent of respondents highlighting the importance of a clean home for mental wellbeing, followed closely by problems physical health, with 89 percent echoing similar sentiments.

If you decide to participate in spring cleaning, Tetro emphasized the distinction 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 areas most likely to harbor pathogens.

Can you clean your house too much?

Many people may not like the sight of dirt and dust and may feel compelled to thoroughly clean their home from top to bottom in pursuit of a fresher atmosphere, Tetro said.

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

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As soon as a person walks into a room, millions of microbes can be expelled, he said. For this reason, achieving complete disinfection of a home is practically impossible, since microbes will always be present in the environment.

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


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While some people want to disinfect their entire home, others may be inclined to leave the dirt behind thinking it’s good for their immune system.

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This is called the hygiene hypothesis, which states 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 due to better sanitation and hygiene practices could lead to an increased risk of allergic and autoimmune diseases later in life.

However, Tetro argued that living in a clean home probably doesn’t harm the immune system. On the contrary, sweeping up dust and disinfecting toilets can even help reduce allergies and illnesses.

“Honestly, living in an urban environment keeps you from having that exposure,” he said. “It’s just about being inside and not being exposed to the outside. This is why, when it comes to being exposed to germs, you want to take kids into natural spaces.

In other words, a little dirt won’t hurt anyone.

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

What should be disinfected?

As spring cleaning approaches, Tetro said she will consider adopting a targeted hygiene strategy. This method involves directing your efforts to areas most likely to harbor pathogens. By prioritizing these locations, you can effectively reduce the risk of exposure to disease.

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These places include the bathroom, sink, and kitchen counter, as well as frequently touched objects like the remote control, doorknobs, keypad, and cell phone.


Click to play video: “Is your house as clean as you think it is?  »


Is your house as clean as you think it is?


“These are places where there will be fecal matter or places where we know there will be a risk of sick people coming in and out,” he said.

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

How to clean with chemicals

Soap and water are very helpful in cleaning the house, Tetro said. But 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, bleach can be used to kill bacteria, fungi or viruses, but it can irritate or burn the skin, eyes or lungs if not handled safely. Mixing bleach with other cleaning products can produce toxic gases, so it’s important to avoid doing so.

The health regulator also recommends ensuring adequate ventilation by opening windows or doors and running exhaust fans during and after using bleach. It is also advisable to use goggles and rubber gloves to protect your eyes and skin when handling the product.

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