12 Safe Ways to Clean House While Pregnant

Judy Dutton | Dec 1, 2014 Pregnancy

If you're pregnant, you may be questioning the safety of many things that may have never fazed you before, and housecleaning may be up there on your list. Aren't those toxic chemicals in cleaners dangerous to your unborn child? Should you really be lugging that heavy vacuum cleaner upstairs? Before you kick back in squalor, know that according to Mary Findley, a sustainable living coach and author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Green Cleaning, it is safe to continue cleaning, provided you take a few precautions. Keep these ideas in mind to stay on the safe side of the housecleaning equation.   

pregnant woman cleaning

How did you change your housecleaning routine while pregnant?

Images © Robert Schlesinger/dpa/Corbis; ©iStock.com/pojoslaw

  • Read Labels


    "When shopping for a cleaner, look for the EPA Seal of Approval," says Findley. Since bottles that contain toxic chemicals can have green looking labels when you go shopping, type "MSDS sheet for XYZ cleaner" into your cell phone. That will take you to the MSDS, or material safety data sheet. Cleaners are rated 0 to 4 in areas of health, flammability and reactivity. Avoid any product with ratings above a 1 and if it has more than one #1 rating. Then look for the list of toxic chemicals. Avoid the product if it has any listed.

  • Try Naturally Safe Cleaners


    "Distilled white vinegar, baking soda, and borax are go-to cleaners for a variety of jobs," says Findley. Keep in mind that even though vinegar is safe, it can't be used on every surface like Corian, marble, granite or tile, or composite surfaces. That's because vinegar is an acid; over time it will etch and dull these surfaces.

  • Pour Rather Than Spray


    "Anytime a cleaner, whether eco-friendly or not, is sprayed into the air, the droplets linger for several days before falling to the floor," says Findley. That means you're inhaling them, and that these chemicals can end up in your lungs and other organs, as well as in your baby's system. To protect yourself and your unborn child, pour a cleaner on a cloth then wipe rather than spray.

  • Avoid Air Fresheners


    "Air fresheners, especially the plug-ins, can be highly toxic," warns Findley. "And the fumes are continuously inhaled, which could create sinus infections where none existed before." Plus, think about it: these scents just mask odors. Wouldn't it be better to rid your home of that stench instead?

  • Wear Gloves


    Even organic cleaners are foreign to the body and not something you want on your hands. The solution? Protect yourself by wearing rubber gloves while you clean.

  • Open Windows


    Open windows while you clean to vent the buildup of toxic fumes. There's a reason fresh air is good for you: trees and plants outdoors remove toxins from the air, making it cleaner to breathe.

  • Avoid Mold and Mildew


    "Pregnant women should not be treating mold or mildew," says Findley. "This is especially if it's on exterior walls, since it could be toxic mold and must be handled by a hazmat team." Or if you must treat mold, use vinegar -- since it does a far better job killing mold than bleach -- wear gloves, a disposable face mask, an old long sleeve shirt, long pants, and socks. Remove your clothing in the garage and launder before wearing them again.

  • Don't Do Any Heavy Lifting


    Cleaning is a good aerobic workout so don't shy away from it unless the doctor has you on restricted physical activity; the exercise is good for baby too and keeps your stomach and back muscles strong for delivery.

    But follow the doctor's advice when it comes to lifting heavy items like a vacuum cleaner. Or, if you must lift something, always bend with the knees and never lean over to pick up anything. Keep your feet shoulder length apart to keep balanced and weight evenly distributed by bending the knees a bit.

  • Remove Pet Stains Safely


    "The pet stores and many organic food stores carry enzyme products for removing pet stains from carpet and furniture," says Findley. "They're non-toxic and also excellent to use to remove baby stains and accidents as well." One caveat: don't use a cleaner on the spot first since it will disable the enzymes from being able to do their job.

  • Hold Off on Replacing Carpets, Drapes or Furniture


    Try to not replace any carpets, drapes, or furniture either during pregnancy or for several years after the birth of a child. Why? Because that "new carpet" or "new furniture" smell is actually a ton of chemicals, some of which may be toxic. If you must replace flooring, opt for real wood -- not laminated wood -- and have it nailed down rather than glued. Opt for real wood shades if new blinds are necessary.

  • Avoid Trips and Falls


    "Be aware of how you move to avoid injury," says Findley. For instance, crossing one foot in front of the other to step to the side dusting or vacuuming throws the body off balance; overreaching in any direction causes falls. This is one time when you really want to be careful!

  • Don't Clean the Whole House in One Day


    Does pregnancy have you feeling exhausted? Rather than tackle all cleaning jobs in one day, break down the jobs into segments. Dust one day, clean the bathrooms the next, etc. The entire home is cleaned without you getting overly tired.