Lysol gargles and bleach on fruit – those are just a few of the dangerous ways Americans are trying to avoid COVID-19.   A report from the CDC has found that almost two out of five Americans are using household cleaners inappropriately, putting their health at risk. 

I was very surprised when I read the results of this report.  Overall, 39% of those who were surveyed had tried a potentially harmful cleaning practice in the last month.  In my opinion, that’s way too many folks who think they’re making themselves safer.  When in reality, these practices really aren’t doing much of anything to prevent coronavirus infections.  So exactly what did these survey respondents do?  Well, I’ll break the data down for you:

  • 19% had used bleach on fruits and veggies
  • 18% had used cleaning products on hands or skin
  • 10% misted the body with cleaning or disinfectant spray
  • 6% inhaled vapors from household cleaners or disinfectants and lastly,
  • 4% tried drinking or gargling diluted bleach solutions, soapy water, and other cleaning and disinfectant solutions

Now, let me be frank and say, DO NOT try any of these.  Because you could end up harming your health.

Harmful Effects of Disinfectants

About 25% of the respondents said they had at least one harmful health effect.  And they included:

  • nose or sinus irritation
  • skin irritation
  • eye irritation
  • dizziness, lightheadedness, or headache
  • upset stomach or nausea and
  • breathing problems

Now some folks might think that these problems might not sound all that bad.  But let me tell you, misuse can cause severe tissue damage and corrosive injury.  And ingesting bleach can be quite hazardous to one’s health.

The Knowledge Gap

Well, the report says that there are “important knowledge gaps in the safe use of cleaners and disinfectants among U.S. adults.”  And that we really need to talk more about how to safely use cleaners and disinfectants.  So on that note, here’s my advice:

  • Always read and follow the label’s directions before using cleaning products
  • Wear gloves, eye and skin protection
  • Do not mix chemicals together
  • Make sure there is good ventilation in the room before using products
  • Use room temperature water for dilution unless the label tells you otherwise
  • And never leave cleaning products where children can get their hands on them

And lastly, remember the best way to avoid the coronavirus is by social distancing, washing hands often, wearing a mask when out and cleaning frequently touched surfaces.  And just for safety measures, I repeat, please do not gargle household cleaners or disinfectants, do not use them on your body, and certainly not on your food.

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