Is your clean home giving you COPD?

Do you keep a squeaky clean home?

If you do, and especially if you use a particularly popular household cleaner, listen up… you could be doing some serious damage to your lungs.

Bleach has been the go-to chemical cleaner since the founding of the Clorox Company nearly 60 years ago. I knew when I came home from school, and the house smelled like bleach, that mom had been cleaning all day.

That all-too-familiar smell of bleach works wonders on stains and mildew and even kills weeds. Unfortunately, current research shows that weekly use of bleach and other common household disinfectants may also be killing your lung health…

Study finds bleach products unhealthy

The Guardian recently reported on a 30-year study carried out by Harvard University and the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research, which found that exposure to bleach and other disinfectants weekly increased risk of COPD by over 30%.

COPD is an umbrella term used to group diseases of the lungs, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis, as these lead to narrowing of airways and thus difficulty breathing.

It is interesting that the study looked at the disease incidence in more than 55,000 nurses in the United States. Hospitals are not the only high-risk locations, as schools and corporations, pools, gyms and homes use chlorine and bleach product cleaners as a matter of course. Looking at home cleaning products we can finds bleach in laundry detergent, Clorox wipes, floor mopping chemicals, toilet bowel cleaners, and so on.

Related: The foods your lungs need to be healthy

How many of these kinds of products do you think you have in your right now? If you want to reduce your (or your families or employees) risk of developing COPD—but still keep a clean house — then get rid of the bleach products and replace them with natural alternatives…

Natural bleach replacement alternatives

There are many natural products that are strong cleaners and disinfectants. Let’s take a look at a handful here.

Baking Soda

Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is a favorite natural cleanser. Adding baking soda to water makes a terrific dishwashing soap and oven and counter-top cleanser. Sprinkle it on carpets, let sit for a while then vacuum to remove pet and smoke odors. Add half a cup of the powder to the laundry to bring out the whiteness in the fabrics can replace bleach. You can mix it with vinegar to make a toilet bowel cleaner, too.


Borax (sodium borate) is one of those “old timey” items my grandmother used around the house, and today my girls mix it with glue and lotion to make slime! It is a combination of Like baking soda, you can add Borax to a load of laundry in replacement of bleach. It is also great to mix with water to clean the sink, toilets, counters and stove.

Castile Soap

Castile soap is a natural, vegetable- or olive-oil based liquid that makes a terrific soap. I use it as a body wash. When distilled with water or added to other natural cleansers, Castile soap makes a great natural cleanser for sinks and tubs and showers and floors. It is biodegradable, safe and effective.

Related: 4 ways to naturally relieve COPD symptoms

Lemon Juice

Almost every dish soap includes lemon extract or at least a photo of a lemon on it. So why not just use fresh lemon juice or lemon essential oils as a bleach and disinfectant alternative? Because of its acidic nature, lemons possess terrific disinfectant properties and cleans well. Use fresh squeezed or packaged lemon juice with warm water to clean and disinfect countertops, cutting boards, and bathroom sinks without the chemicals. It leaves behind a fresh scent, too.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil (melaleuca oil) is what gives those chemical “pine” cleansers their unique scent. Tea tree oil, however, is all natural and non-toxic and because it’s so concentrated all you need is a few drops in warm water to clean counters, sinks, tubs and floors.

Related: The vitamin that guards the lungs


Vinegar is that old standby cleaner. Puppy peed on the carpet, use vinegar to kill the smell and clean the stain. Drip coffee on your shirt, use vinegar to get it out. Its pungent odor aside, vinegar is a terrific broad-range cleanser and disinfectant. It’s great for stains, counters, walls, carpets, clothes, dishes and more. If you add some liquid castile soap or some borax or baking soda, you’ve got a terrific bleach alternative and great kitchen and bathroom cleaner and drain clog remover.


Dr. Mark Wiley

By Dr. Mark Wiley

Dr. Mark Wiley is an internationally renowned mind-body health practitioner, author, motivational speaker and teacher. He holds doctorates in both Oriental and alternative medicine, has done research in eight countries and has developed a model of health and wellness grounded in a self-directed, self-cure approach. Dr. Wiley has written 14 books and more than 500 articles. He serves on the Health Advisory Boards of several wellness centers and associations while focusing his attention on helping people achieve healthy and balanced lives through his work with Easy Health Options® and his company, Tambuli Media.