by Lola
A bunch of industrial cleaning products and tools

Do you suffer from allergies, skin problems or other unexplained conditions? Then natural cleaners might be what you need.

Extreme cleaning and allergies: “the hygiene hypothesis”

Living in a too clean environment has been linked to allergies and asthma

I started having allergies in my teens, that was about 30 years ago and these have gone worse and worse with time. At first it was just a skin rash caused by pollen while being outdoors but soon after I began reacting against cats, dogs and pretty much any animal with hair. That became a real complication because I had hamsters as pets and my boyfriend’s family at the time had a few hairy friends too so visiting them was hell for me. 

With time the symptoms got more extreme, triggering hour-long sneezing attacks, swelling eyes and throat etc, which left me totally exhausted. Unfortunately it did not stop there, and as I grew older more and more allergies got added to my list: hay fever, fruits, nuts, perfumes…eventually I developed several food intolerances and asthma ….all in all not a fun condition to have

I am pretty sure many of you know what I am talking about because allergies have been increasing dramatically in the last decades and the outlook is that it will get even worse. 

“Experts foresee that at least 50% of the EU population will suffer from at least one allergy by 2025!!”

Now you are probably wondering what does cleaning have to do with allergies? 

Let me tell you…an awful lot!! 

There is a lot of research on the relation between extreme hygiene in our modern society and allergies. As there is also about the link between climate change and the rise of disease.

Without getting into technicalities, the “hygiene hypothesis” states simply that the developed world has become too clean. We are regularly using products that eliminate practically 99.9% of bacteria, (also the good ones) and that has created a little and unexpected side effect: Children growing up in such aseptic environments have more chances to develop allergies and asthma. 

So it seems that in absence of bacteria and viruses to fight, our immune system is kind of getting bored, but it needs something to do so it starts to fight harmless allergens in an exaggerated manner which causes those dreadful reactions.

Cleaning and disinfecting are 2 different things

Anti-bacterial cleaners also kill “good” bacteria

I wish that my mum had had this information when we were children because, boy! I tell you, she was very thorough indeed in her cleaning routines which included toxic chemicals such as bleach. Only years later, we learned about the many dangers of such products but in those times, disinfecting toilets and kitchens several times a week was the norm. 

Then, just like today, parents didn’t want us children to get a nasty disease. 

Nowadays, we have a lot more information about how poisonous certain cleaning products are, thankfully some have been eliminated from the shelves, but new ones have taken their place. The industry has continuously made innovations but is that making things better?. 

The cleaning products industry is a multi-billion business that invests millions of euros in expensive marketing campaigns to convince us that cleaning – in the traditional sense of removing dirt and dust – is not enough. Killing everything, everyday should be the aim. 

But let’s be realistic. 

Unless you are a hospital or another public place with high risk for infection, most likely disinfecting daily is not necessary, especially knowing that the chemicals in modern cleaning products can cause or worsen an allergy condition or another health problem.

I am not saying that we should not disinfect at all, instead I suggest that we do it sparingly. We already live in a relatively clean environment, therefore regular cleaning with normal soap and other non-aggressive products can do the trick just fine. Additionally, you will save an awful lot of money in products that you don’t really need.

Use natural cleaners alternatives, at least partially

There are many natural alternatives to chemical cleaners

As my allergies and intolerances worsened causing more serious health problems, I decided to start my own research. I was tired of getting medicines to treat the symptoms but no real explanation from the doctors about what could be causing them or how to improve them. As you already know I am quite curious so for months I read articles, reports, watched videos and I came across an overwhelming (and all be said sometimes confusing) amount of information. 

But something could not be denied, for many years I had used standard cleaning products, as well as cosmetics and hygiene items and as a fact these contained dozens of toxic and dangerous chemicals. I found enough evidence and testimonials to believe that these substances could have triggered my allergies or at least contributed to make them worse.

That is when about 8 or years ago I decided to drastically cut down on chemicals all around the house. 

My first action regarding cleaning stuff was to eliminate the most aggressive products, like those sprays that proudly claim to “kill 99.9% of bacteria”. Then I reduced the variety of products that I was buying, replacing them with a more generic all-purpose cleaner and removed all together liquid products like fabric softeners and industrial hand soaps which are known to be some of the worst for us and the environment. 

Be brave and try natural cleaners… you will be positively surprised

Experiment making your own natural cleaning products. It is fun, cheap and healthy!

In parallel I started experimenting making my own cleaning products and wow!! that was a revelation. 

First, I never thought that they would be so easy and economical to make, yet what really surprised me was, how effective they are. I will not lie to you, it takes some work to prepare them but I usually make big batches that last a long time and they are really worth it. Can you believe that I only spend about 50 Euros a year on the ingredients for my home-made cleaning stuff? (Actually this is just an estimation but I will try to do a calculation next time).

As I gained confidence making more natural cleaning stuff, I also ventured into making my own cosmetics and hygiene items. Here though, I have to confess that eliminating purchased products has proven harder but we will talk about that another time.

The point is that as a result of this drastic reduction of cleaning chemicals, together with other natural practices that I acquired, I have really noticed a massive improvement in my allergies and my health in general. In the last years my asthma episodes have gone down to only once or twice a year, my skin issues have practically disappeared and I feel much better in every sense. 

Have you also tried moving to more natural cleaning routines? I would love to hear about your experiences.

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