(CNN) — Americans are putting their health at risk while trying to protect it.
About a third of Americans surveyed by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have used some kind of risky cleaning practice to stop the spread of coronavirus, the CDC said on Friday.
People have put bleach their food. Others have gargled or inhaled it. And some have washed their bodies with household cleaning and disinfectant products.
None of this cleaning behavior is recommended by the CDC. But this gap in understanding how to safely clean and handle cleaning products during the Covid-19 pandemic may explain why there’s been a sharp increase in the number of calls to poison centers during the pandemic.
The new research, published Friday in the CDC’s weekly health report, was based on an online panel survey of 502 adults in May of this year.
People said they were cleaning more frequently because of the pandemic, but only about half said that they really knew how to clean and disinfect their home safely. And of those people who were surveyed that acknowledged that they used high-risk cleaning practices to prevent the spread of Covid-19, more were likely to report health problems related to cleaning.
The biggest problem area was people’s limited understanding about how to prepare cleaning solutions. Only 23% knew, for instance, to use only room temperature water to dilute bleach solutions.
People were better about using gloves and other protective equipment.
About 71% said they knew gloves were recommended for use with some cleaning materials and 68% said they knew they should wash their hands after using cleaning products. Most people also said they knew that they should keep cleaners out of the reach of children, but only 54% knew that hand sanitizers should be kept in a place that children couldn’t get to.
The CDC recommends that people always read the instructions on cleaning products. When cleaning, wear gloves or other protective gear. Don’t mix cleaning chemicals.
The CDC also said it will be important to continue education campaigns to help people better understand how to safely clean while they are home.