Do you struggle to clean glass and mirrors with the typical blue coloured window cleaning sprays from the store? For people with asthma, glass cleaning sprays can be very irritating and trigger asthma symptoms. Especially in confined spaces like the bathroom. Fortunately there are some easy ways to get sparkling clean glass without inhaling all the fumes. We’ve put together some of our favourite allergy and asthma friendly cleaning products for glass, mirrors, windows and even your phone screen and glasses.
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Why can some window and glass cleaning sprays trigger asthma?
You are probably familiar with the window cleaning sprays sold in supermarkets and stores. Often they are bright blue. Popular brands of window cleaner spray contain ammonium hydroxide (“ammonia”). Ammonia is a type of volatile organic compound (“VOC”) and is a common asthma trigger.
Glass cleaning sprays often containing other chemical agents too, as well as colours and fragrances to give that “freshly cleaned” smell.
These sprays can be particularly problematic if you are using them in a confined space like a bathroom. Even with windows open and a fan on.
What about natural or homemade glass cleaners?
In recent years there has been a dramatic increase in the number of commercially produced “natural” and “plant based” home cleaning products. This includes natural glass cleaning sprays, often marketed as “ammonia free”. Just because something is natural doesn’t mean it is going to be allergy and asthma friendly. Any product that is used as a spray or aerosol can be a potential trigger.
Popular homemade options for cleaning glass include:
- a mixture of half vinegar, half water and a small amount of dish cleaner;
- using warm soapy dish water alone;
and using cloth or newspaper to wipe.
These methods of cleaning glass are less likely to be an asthma trigger as they don’t involve chemicals with the same level of VOCs. However, even these homemade cleaning solutions can cause some irritation in people with asthma and allergies. The smell of vinegar is quite strong and astringent and is enough to make me cough. If you are susceptible to hand eczema, even just dish soap can aggravate this, especially if not using gloves.
What if you could just use water?
Asthma friendly cleaning products for glass without chemicals
Yes, it is possible to get sparkling clean glass and windows with just water and a microfiber cloth.
What is a microfiber cloth?
Microfiber cloths are becoming more and more popular. They are made from very fine synthetic material (polyester and polyamide). The small strands of material make the fabric soft and light, but also capable of absorbing a lot of moisture. It also lasts well and can be reused often without falling apart. This makes microfiber perfect for many types of cleaning.
How to use a microfiber cloth to clean glass
Some microfiber cloths are designed specifically for cleaning glass. These clothes have a “fishscale” type texture on one side for cleaning and removing dirt, and a smooth side for drying and polishing.
To use, just dampen the cloth with warm water first and use the rough side to clean the glass surface. Then reverse the cloth and wipe with the smooth side for a streak free finish.
If you are cleaning external windows or very dirty glass surfaces, it’s a good idea to wipe down with an ordinary cloth or sponge first to remove the excess dirt and grime.
Best microfiber cloths for glass
There are many glass cleaning cloths available, but these are two of our favourites.
White Magic Eco Cloth Glass & Window
Here in Australia, we love the White Magic Eco Cloth Glass & Window. This white cloth is designed specifically to clean glass with one side for scrubbing and the other side for polishing to a streak free finish. It can also be used on stainless steel finishes, and won’t scratch the surface while cleaning. The microfiber cloth can be washed up to 500 times in the washing machine. We have had ours for a very long time and they clean up really well.
The other bonus is that White Magic support Asthma Australia by donating a percentage of profits, so we feel good about cleaning without chemicals and supporting a great cause. White Magic products are available from Amazon and from Aussie Health Products.
MR SIGA Ultrafine Microfiber Cloths for Glass
Mr Siga’s ultrafine microfiber cloth for glass also gets amazing results on all glass surfaces, including our dirty windows and mirrors. I prefer these for windows as they are slightly bigger than the White Magic cloths. Mr Siga’s glass cleaning cloths are also non-abrasive and won’t scratch the glass while your clean. And they are also machine washable and can be used time and time again. They also come in a big multi-pack, so I always have one on hand while others are in the wash.
Microfiber glass cleaning cloths have lots of uses
You can use microfiber glass cleaning cloths for more than just windows. Try them for cleaning:
- shower screens;
- glass table tops;
- reading glasses;
- phone screens;
- glassware (especially for polishing wine glasses);
- car windscreens; and
- stainless steel finishes.
Environmental concerns with microfiber cloths
Using microfiber gives fantastic results for glass cleaning, just using water. And microfiber cloths can be washed and reused many times over, making them seem a more environmentally friendly choice. Unfortunately microfiber cloths are made with synthetic materials like polyester and polyamide – in other words, plastic. With increasing concern about microplastics entering our waterways and oceans, many people are looking to reduce their use of microplastics. And that includes finding alternatives to microfiber cloths.
Environmentally-friendly alternatives to micorfiber
Probably the closest thing to a microfiber cloth for cleaning glass is a bamboo cloth. Bamboo is a natural fibre that will biodegrade. It also produces naturally soft and lint free fabric that is great for cleaning and polishing glass. Bamboo cloths are more delicate than microfiber, so follow the care instructions closely. Many bamboo cloths are hand-washable only without using hot water or any type of bleach.
Another alternative to a microfiber cloth is a good quality terry cotton cloth. The woven loops in this fabric make it excellent for cleaning and the cotton absorbs moisture well. Make sure to use good quality cotton terry cloths as poorer quality terry can leave too much fluff and lint on the glass. Cotton cleaning cloths are also biodegradable.
It’s also possible to clean glass with good old fashioned newspaper. Unlike paper towel that leaves streaks and paper ‘dust’, newspaper usually achieves reasonably good streak free results. If using newspaper to clean your windows, use a window squeegee or separate damp cloth to remove any excess dirt first. Newspaper works more effectively with the water and vinegar solution, but can be used with just water. Some newspaper can make a mess if the ink smudges, and can potentially scratch.
More practical tips for managing asthma
If you are living with asthma, you can find more practical tips for living well in our posts:
- Enjoy beautiful greenery inside: indoor plants for allergies and asthma
- The unusual phenomenon of thunderstorm asthma
- Pulse oximeter for asthma: do you really need one?