When lockdown cleaning is unhealthy

  • The weirdest, most dangerous health advice ever?
  •  An unexpected side effect of the pandemic – the hidden health danger of being indoors
  •  Why a major cause of allergies is closer to home than you think

I’ve witnessed a lot of international health news stories in my time.

They can be surprising, strange, inspiring or shocking.

But Donald Trump’s suggestion on the 24th of April that people might benefit from injecting detergent as a coronavirus cure wins the record for being WEIRD.

It’s weirder even than the one a few years back about the man who injected snake venom as an elixir for long life.

Watching Trump’s conference, it looked like he was just improvising based on thoughts that were floating into his head.

“I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute,” he said. “And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets in the lungs and does a tremendous number on them, so it’d be interesting to check that.”

Controversial stuff. I look forward to reading the President’s weekly alternative health newsletter in the near future!

(To be honest, it wouldn’t be too unlike some of the more ‘out there’ advice I’ve seen from alternative health gurus.)

Anyway, Trump’s words prompted the UK company Dettol to issue a strong caution against using their cleaning products to treat coronavirus.

Not to be one to climb into bed with the likes of Dettol, I have to say that I endorse this warning entirely.

To be honest, I’d also be wary of many household cleaners in general.

As you know from previous Good Life Letters, I am uneasy in general about the overuse of chemicals for cleaning surfaces, never mind injecting them into your bloodstream.

Because it’s leading to one of the unexpected side effects of this pandemic.

The health problem of being indoors

One of the side effects of millions being locked down in their homes is that they are now more exposed to the chemicals inside their houses.

One top of this, many people are cleaning, scrubbing and disinfecting surfaces much more now that there’s a virus around.

In the wake of Trump’s press conference there were reports from the US about a steep rise in public exposure to disinfectants, bleach and detergents – by as much as 45%.

With more people using more disinfectant to clean their home during the covid-19 pandemic, there’s more chance of young children getting hold of them, leading to more cases of accidental poisoning.

Dr. Rutherfoord Rose, Pharm.D., director of the Virginia Poison Center reminded the public that “household cleaners are not healthcare products”.

You don’t say!

While this is not nearly as urgent a problem as the virus, it’s something to think about.

As I mentioned to you a few months ago, many household cleaning products contain solvents known as Volatile Organic Compounds. These have been linked to diarrhoea, earache, headaches and depression.

A leader of a Bristol University study, Dr Alexandra Farrow, said that people most at risk are mothers and babies, “because they spend about 80% of their time at home”.

Well, that concern now applies to most of us, as we’re now working from home or furloughed at home.

With this in mind, I’d recommend you reduce the toxins you use in the home as much as possible.

One way to do this with your laundry is to use a magnesium pad called Terra Wash, which allows you to wash clothes without any powders or softeners.

You can read about it here: terrawash

Another one to try is soap nuts, the only organic detergent that grows on trees. These can wash your clothes if you put them in your machine – you can read more about that here: Soap Nuts.

Alternatively, soak the nuts in water and then use the liquid to clean floors, tables and worktops.

Or there’s the liquid Organic Soapnut Castile Soap, made from organic oils and organic soapnut fruit extract, which can be used for washing: laundry, dishes, pets & floors – click here for more details.

Of course, there are also natural ingredients around the home which you can use:

  • For windows and mirrors, pour a quarter of a cup of vinegar into a spray bottle. Fill with water and you’re ready to go.
  • For sinks and baths, sprinkle baking soda onto the porcelain and rub with a wet cloth, then rinse well.
  • Use lemon juice with warm water as a natural cleaner.

If you’d like to read all my cleaning tips using lemon, get yourself a copy of The Lemon Book, which contains everything I know about using lemons as an alternative to chemically laden products.

Even aside from the coronavirus, there is a problem with over-scrubbing your home with disinfectants, particularly for those with young children…

Why a major cause of allergies is closer to home than you think

In recent decades we’ve seen a huge rise in allergies:

  • Asthma, Rhinitis and Eczema have trebled in the past two decades. By 2025, asthma will be the most prevalent chronic childhood disease.
  • Over 150 million people in Europe have allergies – it’s now the most common chronic disease and will affect 50% of all Europeans in a decade’s time!
  • There are 21 million adults in the UK with at least one allergy – it puts Britain in the top three countries for allergy rates!

Why is this?

Well, Guy Delespesse, a professor at the University of Montréal Faculty of Medicine, claims that the rise in conditions like hay fever, eczema and asthma are directly linked to the sterile environment created by our modern cleaning habits.

In his view, there simply aren’t enough germs around our homes these days!

“The more sterile the environment a child lives in”, he says, “the higher the risk he or she will develop allergies or an immune problem in their lifetime.”

So while you should carry on disinfecting what you bring in from the outside world, try not to go crazy blitzing every surface of your house with chemical cleaners.

If possible, see if you can add some natural cleaning ingredients into the mix.