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When Being Clean Is Unhealthy

December 19, 2012, 6:06 PM by Casey Wonnenberg

When Being Clean Is Unhealthy

You likely try hard to keep your home clean for you and your children, thinking the cleaner, the healthier for your family. But that's not necessarily the case.

Research shows being too clean might actually lead to health problems.

Amanda Mack knows it's not necessarily easy maintaining a clean environment, especially with an 11-month-old running around.

"He's so busy. He's into everything, into everything," Mack said.

And the last thing Mack wants is her child to come into contact with a virus, such as a cold or RSV.

"We vacuum all the time," Mack said.

But being too clean can be bad for your kid.

"The thing with the hygiene hypothesis is that by being too cleanly and not exposing kids to germs and stuff when they're young, the risk is they'll have more troubles with allergy and asthma and autoimmune problems," Avera Dr. Sam Schimelpfenig said.

Dr. Sam Schimelpfenig says how well you clean should also depend on what types of germs are in the area.

"If it's for something like flu or RSV, for them not to pick that up, that's definitely a good thing for little kids.  But not every germ is necessarily a bad one," Schimelpfenig said.

So how do you maintain a healthy balance? Schimelpfenig says you should still wash your hands and your child's hands before you eat, after you go to the bathroom and after you leave a public area.

"Just regular soap and water ought to be just fine. For a surface, an antibacterial wipe is probably going to do a better job. For a grocery cart handle, you really want to make sure you get rid of the flu bugs and those kinds of things," Schimelpfenig said.

Schimelpfenig also says to just use common sense and don't go overboard.

"We wash our hands a lot and dust and vacuum and keep up on that, but we're not overly fanatical about it," Mack said.

Mack and her husband hope that will allow 11-month-old Owen to be as healthy as possible.

"He really is just everything to both of us. We have so much fun and our world has really changed a lot since he's been here," Mack said.

Schimelpfenig also recommends making sure toys are clean when multiple kids are playing with them.

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