Home is where the health is…
We’ve all been there. Maybe you go a while between dustings. Let the dog sleep in the bed. Watch moisture bead up on the bathroom window. Sometimes these things are easy to ignore. Unfortunately, these innocent-seeming habits could be making you and your family sick.
While you likely know that your cleaning supplies could be secretly making you sick, you may not know how much damage not cleaning could be doing. It could be that you’re cleaning enough, but not cleaning your cleaning supplies. It’s tricky – but following these important tips can help keep you and your family safe and healthy.
Your home has too much moisture
While moisture in the home is normal – bathing, cooking, and even breathing all contribute – excessive moisture is not, according to expertmoldtest.com. Mould loves humid environments, and if there is excessive moisture in the home, it’s bound to grow, especially in corners and ceilings. The Center for Disease Control warns that mould can cause nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing or wheezing, eye irritation, or, in some cases skin irritation.
You’re vacuuming without a HEPA filter
Research from MIT reveals that air pollution causes about 200,000 early deaths per year in the United States alone, and it worsens asthma and allergies. That’s why you may want to invest in a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter vacuum to prevent tiny particles of dust from being blown back out into your indoor air. “I tend to go toward whole-house filtration, so the first thing I’d recommend is installing a HEPA filter in your home’s HVAC system,” says Dr James Sublett, an expert in allergy and immunology.
You’re forgetting to change the vacuum filter
If you’re using a HEPA filter, you’ll want to make sure you’re changing it every six months or when you notice signs of wear and tear. This will ensure an effective filter, while also preserving the life of the machine.
You’re not cleaning vents and ducts
Vents might not be in your line of vision quite like dirty dishes, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need cleaning, too. Vents are home to a ton of dust from the air, and when you turn on the heat or air conditioning, all those dust particles are redistributed throughout your house. You can take off the vent cover and clean out the grime you can reach, but you’ll want to enlist a professional to thoroughly clean your ducts. The professionals use compressed air and air agitators to clear out hard-to-reach dust.
Your bathroom has poor ventilation
Are you keeping the window open or using the fan when showering? You should! Excess moisture can not only cause your paint and wallpaper to detach, but it encourages mould, which can thrive and multiply indoors, damaging your house and potentially your health, according to the EPA.
You’re using the wrong household cleaners
As you spray cleaner around the house, it settles on all types of surfaces. Plus, you inhale it as you spritz. In a COVID-19 world, people are cleaning more frequently than ever. The right cleaners are crucial to not only protect against the virus but protect you from being exposed to the harsh chemicals.
Further, common household chemicals – bath products, dish soap, bleach º can damage your airways and lungs. The Environmental Working Group’s investigation of more than 2,000 cleaning supplies revealed that many substances in them are linked to serious health problems like asthma, allergies and even cancer.
You’re not dusting correctly
Vacuuming once a week and wiping down countertops means you’re only making a dent in the dust around your house. It builds up every single day, and the more time you let go by without wiping it up, the more you’re exposing yourself to harmful particles. Use a damp cloth to gather dust as opposed to using a duster (or a dry cloth), which will only spread the dust around and trigger allergies. Also, be sure to dust from high to low.
You’re ignoring your gutters
Leaky gutters are another cause of moisture buildup, allowing excess water into your walls, garage, or crawl space. If your gutters aren’t covered, you’ll want to make sure you clean them out regularly.
Your bedroom is musty
Although you vacuum and dust, you actually need to move your chest of drawers, desks, and other furniture to thoroughly clean. Pull your bed away from the wall, and you might be shocked to see just how much crud is collecting just behind your head. And remember to regularly wash your bedding – once every one to two weeks – and make sure you have a good mattress protector. Turn your mattress every couple of months, and vacuum it when you do.
You wear your shoes inside the house
You wouldn’t roll around a public bathroom, but nearly everyone would walk around one and then walk around their house in the same shoes. Given that you roll on your carpets with your kids or the dog and put your feet up on the coffee table, you might want to leave the shoes at the door. Researchers from the University of Arizona found that shoes can track in 400,000-plus bacteria per shoe, including E. coli, a strain that’s known to cause nasty gastrointestinal distress.
You’re surrounded by wind-pollinated plants
You may unknowingly be inviting allergens into your garden that cause your stuffy nose, watery eyes, sneezing and breathing trouble. If you have allergies, the Old Farmer’s Almanac recommends avoiding the following:
Large shade trees such as oaks, maples, and beeches
Most lawn grasses
Common weeds such as lamb’s-quarter, pigweed, and ragweed
You have too much stuff
You love throw pillows, coffee table books and knick-knacks: All these things collect dust, dander and pollen, and they can contribute to poor air quality in your home. Unless you plan on constantly moving and cleaning all of this, you should consider minimising your furnishings and collections.
You let your pet sleep in your bed
They’re cosy, loving, and even help you sleep, but if you’re walking your dog around the neighbourhood, you can bet they’re carrying a lot of dirt, germs and even insects (think ticks) into your bed. Not only that, but pet dander traps allergens, which means you’re subjecting your sleeping space to those allergens.