On Friday, my daughter tried to be helpful. Unfortunately, she was helpful by cleaning the downstairs bathroom, the one that the cat uses. More on this later.
Since finding out about my chemical contact and sinus allergies, we removed all allergenic cleaning products from our home, EXCEPT one. My husband felt it was very important to use a household cleaner with bleach to clean the cat’s bathroom. He was so angry and adamant about keeping it, even though we both knew I was allergic, that I agreed it could stay for use in only that one room. About three weeks ago, we had to do some upstairs toilet repairs, and against my wishes, he brought the cleaner upstairs. The smell spread throughout the upstairs, even with closed doors, the window open, and the fan pulling the air upwards through the bathroom and out of the house. We washed the fabric shower curtain and the bath mat and wiped the floor and counter. Since then, I have been experiencing sinus problems, rashes, and eye reactions.
Fast forward to Friday. Not realizing how it should be used, my daughter sprayed that same cleaner all over the floor so heavily that the scent was everywhere, more strongly than before. It didn’t help that the furnace fan recirculates air throughout the house at regular intervals. I told her to stop using it and clean it up, and then went outside and hid in the van (because it was cold and I still don’t have a safe winter jacket) until my husband came home from work, tossed the cleaner, and started to clean out the house. I was near tears. This time everything needed cleaning: every exposed soft surface, all the hard surfaces, throughout the home. You see, a scent in the air means chemical molecules in the air, and these molecules settle on every surface, including your own skin and hair, soft furnishings, tables, chairs, couches, etc. After that future contact with those surfaces can provoke further allergic responses.
My husband was furious about the needed cleaning – as furious as he had been about the thought of giving up the cleaner to begin with. He asked why I hadn’t gone behind his back and thrown it out anyway if it was so bad for me. All I could say was that I was trying to respect the sacrifices he’s made thus far in making changes in life related to my allergies. He had been so angry that I was more willing to take the health risk than to upset him more.
We’ve been taught by chemical manufacturers that we need certain things like bleach and other chemicals to clean properly, and it’s an entire paradigm we need to relearn. The truth is, vinegar, plain soap, and other things like ammonia (individually, not together) will clean most things we need to clean. Plain bleach will work on others. (NEVER USE BLEACH AND AMMONIA TOGETHER!)
Since the weekend-long cleaning, I’ve been feeling better than I had since the first bleach cleaner incident. My sinuses aren’t acting up as much, and my skin isn’t as irritated. Granted I’m still waiting for the magic two to three day window to pass before the big reaction hits, and medicating regularly to try to prevent it, but I’m more comfortable than I’ve been in a month. From now on, liquid castille soap will be used to wash the floor in the cat’s bathroom. If soap is good enough to clean poop off of hands, it’s good enough to clean it off of a floor.
Sometimes it takes a crisis to bring on the required action. Sometimes that crisis also tells us something about ourselves, like the need to stand up for our health and our bodies, regardless of peer pressure. Tell us about a crisis point when you needed to stand up for yourself and your allergies. What happened? What did you do? Comment below.