Nearly 4 in 10 American adults reported engaging in dangerous cleaning practices to prevent COVID-19, such as washing food with bleach, using household disinfecting products on their skin or intentionally inhaling vapors from cleaning products, according to a recent survey.
A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) follows an earlier study describing an increase in calls to poison control centers regarding exposure to household cleaners, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new report is based on an online survey of about 500 adults from around the U.S. who answered questions about their general knowledge of household cleaning safety and specific practices for preventing COVID-19 transmission. The researchers used a statistical technique called weighting to make their sample representative of the U.S. population.
Most participants had some knowledge of how to clean safely. For example, most said that there should be good ventilation in a room when using cleaning chemicals and that cleaning products should be kept out of the reach of children. Most were also aware that they should wash their hands after using household cleaners.
However, there were dangerous gaps in their knowledge. For example, only about one-third said that bleach should not be mixed with vinegar. This mixture can produce chlorine gas, which can cause irritation of the eyes, throat and nose and potentially lead to breathing problems, Live Science previously reported.