HOW do you clean your home? Or your car? What products do you use to beautify and groom yourself? Everyone knows about the dangers of outdoor pollution, but did you know you, your kids and your pets could be exposed to harmful chemicals inside your own home?

I grew up with Mr Sheen and Mr Muscle as key members of our family as my mum, bless her, always had an annoying knack for spotting even the tiniest specks of dirt or dust, and trusted these cylindrical handy men with her life. The poor dust particles never stood a chance of landing anywhere as the aerosols would blast off, knocking them dead in their tracks. How dare they have the audacity to land in Mrs Krishan’s home!

I remember enduring the shop when the cleaning products needed topped up, aisles of chemicals on offer for every room, eventuality, piece of furniture or upholstery. Mum in her element, us dreading the chores ahead! Thank goodness I’ve not inherited this passion for cleaning from my mum.

I did develop a love for housekeeping and using nice fragranced products when I first moved into my home – from smelly candles to plug-ins and air fresheners. Having a dog meant that I was determined to keep that “dog-smell” out so I ensured that all the products I bought were strong and promising.

It was only two years ago, however, after I attended a course on environmental health, that I learned about the potential damages I was causing to myself – and as I researched deeper I realised that, as a society, we are hooked on toxic products.

This can range from the regular shampoos, deodorants, bath bombs, emollients and make-up we use to the detergents, bleaches and antimicrobial disinfectants that we clean our homes with. Without realising, we are buying into the false advertising that the majority of these are safe, and we are actively creating high levels of pollution indoors, inhaling these into our systems and causing ourselves all sorts of diseases.

Did you know that many of our common household products contain and release chemicals which have been linked to potentially serious health conditions including respiratory problems and even some cancers?

Toxins are everywhere and not just limited to smoking, dust and outdoor pollution. Allergies and skin conditions are also on the rise and I worry it is due to us constantly scrubbing off all the good bacteria, which is designed to protect us, and in doing so we are allowing all sorts of nasty toxins into the system via our largest organ – the skin.

Examples of such chemicals, known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), include acetone, xylene and formaldehyde. Other commonly used toxic chemicals include bleach or ammonia. VOCs are commonly found in detergents, furniture polish, air fresheners, carpet cleaners, oven cleaners, pesticides and paints.

Citrus and pine, for example, can react when they are released into the air to make new chemicals which irritate the airways but can also cause headaches, allergies and skin irritations. We’re still researching the level of impact they have on us at a cellular level.

Those who work as domestic cleaners are perhaps at highest risk of developing serious health effects due to their constant contact with chemicals and indoor pollution across various environments. So, two years ago, after my course, I decided to give my household cleaning regime a makeover.

The first thing I did was gut out my cleaning cupboards and review the products I was using. I started by simply reading the labels on the bottles and was horrified by what I learned. Not only was I exposing myself, but my poor baby and dog were also being harmed in the process. There are various online resources which allow you to search the safety of the chemicals in your products. Doing your own research will be most insightful.

I learned about other ways of cleaning, for example simply using a damp cloth to clean and dust. I went old school too, using warm water and soap, baking powder for scrubbing and vinegar for glass and windows. If I want some fragrance, I use organic essential oils. Not only have I saved a fortune, but I also feel my home environment is cleaner and, more importantly, healthier.

Other tips would be to limit the amount of spray, whether that be cosmetic or household, as vapours pollute the air more. Opt for unscented and allergy-free where possible. Just because it says “green” and “eco-friendly” doesn’t mean it is – so read your labels and choose wisely.

And lastly, ventilate your home on a daily basis. Open those windows and let the air cleanse itself, especially when cleaning.

Thanks to some celebrities, I’m happy to see that cleaning has become a trend, and I too have my favourites who inspire me to enjoy being house-proud. However, there does tend to be a lot of emphasis on brand promotion, which in some cases is harmful.

I’m also delighted to report that my mum has been converted successfully and has detoxed off her products, albeit reluctantly. But when we know better, we must clean better.