12 Spring Cleaning Mistakes That Could Make You Sick

Dusting Tv Gettyimages 950401208

You think you’re doing a good job of getting your house sparkling, but could you actually be harming your health in the process?

You’re stirring up dust

Anyone who’s ever cleaned a dusty bookcase or a neglected spare room knows dust makes you sneeze. “Dust is a common trigger for asthma and allergy symptoms,” says Jennifer Caudle, DO, a family physician and associate professor at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine. But did you know dust can actually be toxic? A meta-analysis from George Washington University found unhealthy levels of chemicals in dust that can cause everything from hormone disruptions to asthma to even cancer.

To avoid ingesting or breathing dust as much as possible, wipe up dust frequently—don’t just save hard-to-reach spots for spring cleaning—and follow a “top-down” strategy. “Start with ceilings and high shelving, and work your way to the floors to limit redistribution of dust and other particles to freshly cleaned surfaces,” says Samara Geller, a senior research and database analyst at Environmental Working Group (EWG). In addition, “look for a vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter to more effectively trap dust, allergens and contaminants,” she says. Check out the spots you might forget when spring cleaning.

Bathroom Sponge Gettyimages 588494479

You’re using the same sponges for different tasks

Unfortunately, your cleaning tools themselves can become germy and spread bacteria around the house and make you sick. “I recommend having a kitchen-surface cleaning sponge, and a separate bathroom sponge,” Maker says. “A great way to do this is to use color-coded sponges—you can pick up a different color for the kitchen and a different color for the bathroom, and then that way you always know what sponge to use where.”