Thursday, April 11, 2013

Make Spring Cleaning Safer for Children

In many households, the start of spring means it’s time to clean! While it’s great to keep a tidy home, some cleaning products have ingredients that can be harmful, especially to babies and young children. Chemicals in cleaning products, or the fumes they produce, may cause airway, skin or eye irritations. Accidental poisoning of a child by ingestion of toxic cleaning solutions is also a very real concern because children may mistake colorful or pleasant-smelling cleaning agents for something good to drink. According to the Maryland Poison Center, approximately 50 percent of calls into poison centers involve children under the age of six.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to clean up your spring cleaning routine so that it’s safer for children.

  • Purchase greener, less caustic household cleaners. Look for "green" and "nontoxic" cleaners, or products that say "petroleum-free," "biodegradable," "phosphate-free," "VOC-free" or "solvent-free" on the labels.
  • Dilute, dilute, dilute. Diluting a cleaner with water is an easy way to make a product less harsh. Many cleaners are still effective, even when watered down a bit.
  • Try not to clean when children are in the room. This aids in limiting their exposure to any chemicals you may be using. Make sure to ventilate the room well before allowing children back in.
  • Make your own cleaners. Ingredients like baking soda, diluted vinegar and citrus peels are less toxic than many commercially produced cleaners but are also effective.
  • Avoid spray-on carpet cleaners when possible. Chemicals in carpet cleaners may become trapped in the carpet. Consider using a steam cleaner with water (no detergent) instead.
  • Skip the antibacterial soap. Plain soap and water gets germs off just as well. Antibacterial soap contains unnecessary chemicals and may increase the risk of creating tougher, resistant bacteria.
  • Stop dirt at the door. Make it a family rule to wipe feet or take shoes off at the door. It will help to keep dirt and other contaminants outside so that cleaning won’t be required as often.

Making changes to the way you clean and the products you use might take some time, but it could be beneficial to your family’s health and is worth considering.

*Household cleaning products - chemical or natural, purchased or homemade - should always be kept out of the reach of children.

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