Winter is here (yes, our Florida version of it!) and that means cold and flu season is now in full swing. And while you’re likely doing your part to stay healthy in public, you may find yourself dealing with an illness brought on by your own home. Headaches, breathing problems or digestive issues can all be signs that it’s actually your own home that is making you sick.
Here are 6 things in your home that can make you sick.
Mold and Mildew
Particularly troublesome in warm, humid rooms such as the laundry room or bathroom, mold and mildew are notorious for causing breathing problems. Lingering in your shower or sink, most mold found in homes is surface mold, or mildew. When left to flourish mildew can leave you feeling quite ill causing major respiratory upset. Be sure to remove any mold or mildew so you can breathe easy.
Central air conditioners recycle indoor air. In other words, it pulls in the air already in your home, filters it and pushes it back out. This means that toxins that are in your home end up staying there. To avoid this, open the windows when possible. This allows fresh air in and bad air out. Additionally, work to avoid adding irritants and toxins to the air. Limiting your use of toxic cleaning chemicals, keeping your home free from mold and banning cigarette smoke inside are all great starts.
Remote controls are notorious for harboring viruses and bacteria. They are handled frequently and by many different people. This coupled with the fact they are rarely cleaned and you have a recipe for illness. Wiping down remote controls should be part of your regular cleaning routine. The same goes for door knobs and lightswitches. These items should also be cleaned after anyone in your home is sick.
Poor food handling in the kitchen can lead to digestive upset. In fact, foodborne illnesses are one of the most common health hazards in homes. When preparing food, be sure to practice good handwashing, especially when handling meat or other foods prone to harboring bacteria. Additionally, be sure to store foods properly and mark the date on leftovers.
Not only can food cause health concerns in the kitchen, but so can your equipment and utensils. Cutting boards can be particularly troublesome. Microscope cuts are created anytime you use a cutting board. These cuts collect bacteria and can be difficult to clean. Use separate boards for meat and produce to avoid cross-contamination. Sponges, dishcloths and the sink also frequently contain nasty bacteria like Salmonella and E.coli. Wash these items frequently and thoroughly.
You wear your shoes all day. Through mud puddles, in public restrooms and at the gas station just to name a few. Needless to say, your shoes collect a lot of pesky germs throughout the day. To avoid traipsing these contaminants throughout your home, remove your shoes immediately upon returning home. Ask visitors to do the same. To take things a step further, wash your hands after returning home from errands. This will wash away all the bacteria and viruses you picked up from door handles and shopping carts.
If you’re not washing your sheets at least every other week, you’re putting yourself at risk for illness. Bedsheets have been found to contain Salmonella and E.coli, both are nasty bacteria that can cause major digestive upset. Not to mention the dead skin cells, sweat and body oils that gather on your sheets. To keep germs at bay, wash your sheets regularly. Additionally, avoid eating in bed or placing “dirty” items like your cell phone on it.