Life doesn’t stop when you’re pregnant; you might even find yourself busier than ever preparing for your new arrival. But pregnancy throws up new safety concerns that you may never have thought about before.Is it safe for me to use cleaning products? Are there any chores that would put me or my baby at risk? Worry no more. Here’s your one-stop guide to safe cleaning products and pregnancy.
Light chores are fine
Although you might hope pregnancy is the perfect reason to give up cleaning altogether, there’s actually no safety risk involved in light cleaning tasks. That means you can still do the washing up, dusting, cleaning worktops and making the bed. (Sorry about that!)
Your body’s immunity to bugs is actually lower during these nine months, so it’s a good idea to keep on top of basic hygiene. Just try to avoid using cleaning products with harsh chemicals – more on this in a moment.
Read the labels on products
When you’re cleaning whilst pregnant it’s a good idea to check the labels of any cleaning products you use before you start. Research isn’t clear on the safe levels of exposure to harsh chemicals during pregnancy. Some researchers have found a possible connection between using harsh household cleaning products and childhood respiratory problems. You might prefer to avoid any cleaners with ‘toxic’, ‘poison’, ‘corrosive’, or ‘danger’ on the labels. Especially avoid products that have a harsh smell as these are most likely to be VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) which are harmful to the respiratory tract.
Products that tend to have harsher chemicals in them include oven cleaner, drain unblocker, carpet cleaner and toilet cleaner. If you’re concerned, ask your partner to take over this part of the cleaning routine, and make sure that you ventilate any rooms where you use harsh chemicals so you don’t breathe them in accidentally.
Buy natural, chemical-free cleaning products
Natural, chemical-free cleaning products can be a great alternative to harsh chemical cleaners during pregnancy. Many specialist eco-cleaning products are now available, so you don’t have to compromise on your cleaning standards when you’re expecting.
As well as protecting you and your baby from harm, these products don’t pollute the environment and are more sustainable to manufacture than traditional products and do not produce VOC’s. So it’s a win-win situation.
Make your own products
If you find that you react badly to commercial products during your pregnancy, or the fragrance of manufactured cleaners makes you feel ill, it’s also possible to make your own safe cleaning supplies.
You can make a quick and easy all-purpose cleaning solution from equal parts white vinegar and water, which is good for cleaning counter tops, bathrooms and tiles.
Getting rid of hard water stains in your kettle, bath or shower is easy if you use baking soda, and substituting hydrogen peroxide for bleach is great for removing stains from clothes or for whitening whites.
Now that you’re pregnant, cleaning products can irritate your skin in ways they never did before. Your skin becomes more sensitive because of hormonal changes in your body, so cleaning products are more likely to cause the itching, irritation and inflammation common in contact dermatitis.
It’s especially important to make sure that you wear gloves if you use harsher chemicals, particularly chlorine, detergents and beach. Ideally, get someone else to do these cleaning tasks for you.
Don’t tackle mould yourself
When that nesting instinct kicks in it’s understandable that you want to banish mould from your home as soon as you notice it. But wait! Cleaning mould releases fungal spores into the air that you can inhale, and they could make you or your baby sick.
Get your partner to tackle any mould patches that appear on bathroom tiles or in the shower. If the problem spreads to soft furnishings or wood, it might be time to call in the professionals to get it sorted out properly.
Avoid heavy lifting
While we did say that cleaning whilst pregnant is fine, there are several exceptions to the rule. As you your baby grows it’s important not to put any extra strain on your body, which means no heavy lifting, gardening, going up ladders or moving furniture.
Your centre of gravity and balance changes as your belly grows, so you’re at greater risk of falling over. Later in pregnancy, your hormones soften your connective tissue, ligaments and tendons, so you’re more likely to injure yourself shifting heavy objects.
The rule of thumb is to cut down the weight of anything you move by 20-25% of what you could lift before, just to be safe.
Get your partner to clean out the cat toilet
If you’re a devoted cat owner, you might be horrified to know that during pregnancy your cat’s litterbox is a health risk. Cat faeces contain a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii, which can cause a serious blood infection, toxoplasmosis.
If you can, get someone else to clean the cat litter tray while you’re expecting. If you have no alternative, make sure you wear suitable gloves and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
Don’t clean too much
This last piece of advice might seem confusing, but it’s also important not to over-clean your home while you’re pregnant. It can be tempting to buy antibacterial cleaners for every surface, but research has shown that rather than reducing disease it helps to create antibiotic superbugs like Staphylococcus aureus. Eco-responsible cleaning solutions like ECO.3 if used correctly will make you surfaces clinically clean when used as directed.
Over cleaning isn’t good for your baby either. Studies show that children brought up in over-clean environments are more likely to develop asthma, allergies and other autoimmune disorders.
The best advice for using safe cleaning products during pregnancy is this: use soap and hot water to wash your hands and most of your home. Use safe, non-toxic cleaning products the rest of the time.