Are you cleaning your house too much?
Keeping your home clean, especially if you have children, seems like it should be a top priority. Making sure that surfaces are free of germs and that your family doesn’t pick up an illness is an easy way to take care of each other. But is it possible you’re cleaning too much?
A study looked at whether cleaning too much could be harmful to children’s immune systems, leading to issues like allergies or weak immune systems. The germs and parasites children are exposed to can have an impact on their immune systems.
“The idea behind allergies is that our immune systems like to stay busy,” says Dr. Kevin Dahlman, pediatrician and medical director for Aurora Children’s Health. “The part of our immune system that isn’t being used because we have clean water sometimes malfunctions and starts attacking our bodies. This can lead to people developing asthma and allergies.”
Clean drinking water is obviously a good thing, as many of the infections that can happen with contaminated drinking water can be very dangerous. Clean drinking water and regular cleaning at home can help avoid infections, especially since the microorganisms found in your house aren’t typically the ones your children need for immunity.
“Cleaning is important, but you don’t need to scrub with disinfectant constantly. You need to find balance,” says Dr. Dahlman. “Too much of anything can cause problems, so be careful about the amount of chemicals you are exposing your children to.”
While you should exercise common sense in the amount of cleaning you do, there are safer ways to boost your children’s immune systems without exposing them to dangerous pathogens – like getting recommended vaccines.
“Vaccines, in addition to protecting us from the infection that they target, do a lot more to strengthen our immune systems,” says Dr. Dahlman. “It’s a healthy thing to use our immune systems, and vaccines are a great way to jump start our immune system.”
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About the Author
Ben Hoekstra is a public affairs coordinator with Advocate Aurora Health. He previously worked in marketing and PR for various Milwaukee nonprofits and received his master’s degree in Corporate Communications from Marquette University. He enjoys the outdoors, cooking, and all things Milwaukee.