27 Mistakes That Are Making Your Home Unhealthy
Finally defeat those allergens. Here's how to control the dust, mold, pollen and other contaminants that are making you sneeze.
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1. Wearing Shoes Inside the House
Not only is wearing shoes indoors a health risk, but it can also increase allergens. Wet leaves bring in mildew, and pollutants from grass often get trapped on the bottom of shoes. Take your shoes off outside, or put them in a washable tray as soon as you walk in the door.
READ MORE: 10 Super-Simple Ways to Detox Your Home
2. Not Wiping Down Your Bags
Just think about all of the floors that your backpack, briefcase or purse touches in the span of a single day. Gross, right? Instead of bringing all that bacteria into your home, sanitize your bag with a disinfectant wipe and then hang it up in your entryway or closet.
3. Keeping the Temp Too High
Dust mites and mold love to live in warm climates. Keep your thermostat around 70 degrees to help keep them at bay.
4. Vacuuming Without a HEPA Filter
Use HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters to prevent tiny particles of dust from being blown back out into the air.
READ MORE: How to Clean Your Vacuum Filters
5. Forgetting to Change the Vacuum Filter
Changing the filter is an essential part of keeping dust out of the air and preserving the life of the machine. Change the filter once it's showing wear and tear or every six months if you're using a HEPA filter.
READ MORE: When to Change Things Around the House
6. Forgetting to Change the AC Filters
Never run your heating or air conditioning system without filters, and be sure to change them at least every three months.
7. Not Keeping a Barrier Between You and Your Bedding
Use zippered dust-proof casings for pillows and mattresses. The pore space of such casings is so small that dust mites and their waste products can't get through.
8. Letting Your Pet Sleep in Your Bed
Your favorite part of the day may be snuggling up to your fur baby, but pet dander traps allergens — which means you're inviting those allergens to your bed. If you can't resist the cuddles, then you should completely shave your dog. Just kidding — just be sure to bathe them once a week.
9. Too Many Textiles in the Bedroom
Carpeting, rugs, pillows, upholstered headboards and chairs are all dust catchers. Consider minimizing furnishings for an easier-to-dust environment.
10. Too Many Textiles in Your Living Area
The living room is the same as a bedroom. Keep upholstery to a minimum to reduce the amount of dust mites.
11. Burning the Wrong Candles
When was the last time you checked the label on your favorite scented candle? Though they smell divine, scented paraffin candles can release foul toxins like toluene and benzene, which have been linked to asthma and other lung conditions. Consider switching to candles containing beeswax or soy, which are safer and more natural.
12. Installing Wallpaper in the Bathroom
Patterned wallpaper is a beautiful addition to any room, but installing it in wet rooms (bathrooms and kitchens) can increase the risk of mildew. Opt for tile or textured paint that's mold-resistant.
13. Not Ventilating Your Bathroom
Running the exhaust fan (and making sure it's vented to the outdoors) helps remove moisture from this naturally humid room.
14. Not Replacing Your Shower Curtain Liner
Mold and mildew love to grow on our shower curtain liners. When yours is starting to look like it's in bad shape, toss it in the washer or replace it with a new one.
Get the How-To: How to Clean Your Shower Curtain (and Keep it Clean)
15. Overlooking Your Shower Head
While you're deep cleaning the bathroom, don't forget to disinfect your shower head; several studies have revealed that dirty shower heads can host Mycobacterium avium, a bacteria linked to pulmonary diseases. We suggest filling a plastic bag with white vinegar, wrapping your shower head in the bag and leaving it to soak for about an hour.
16. Ignoring Your Bathmat
Think about it. You step onto your bathmat completely wet on the daily. To keep it fresh (and to keep mildew away), hang it to dry after every use, and stick it in the washer once a week.
17. Not Washing Your Makeup Brushes
We know that cleaning your makeup brushes and face sponges feels like such a chore, but these tools can harbor bacteria and lead to breakouts or more serious skin conditions. Use dish soap or baby shampoo to wash them at least once a week.
READ MORE: How to Clean a Beautyblender
18. Not Following Your Nose
If you detect a musty smell in your home, inspect closely until you find the source of the smell. The sooner you find the mold, the easier it will be to remove. Basements and garages tend to be hot spots for mold growth.
19. Not Using the Exhaust Fan When Cooking
If you love cooking, all that steam from the stovetop will produce excess moisture. Turn the exhaust fan on to reduce it, helping to decrease the chance of mold.
20. Using That Sponge Over and Over Again
Sponges are porous, perpetually damp and notoriously pick up bacteria like salmonella and listeria like nobody's business. Replace yours about every two weeks or, better still, switch to a plastic or silicone brush.
21. Not Cleaning Out Your Coffee Maker
As much as we hate to admit it, we're all guilty of not cleaning our coffee makers on a regular basis. To prevent mold and bacteria from building up inside, wash removable parts with dish soap and then run white vinegar through the water tank.
READ MORE: How to Clean Your Coffee Maker
22. Not Organizing Your Home Office
Clutter can harbor a plethora of dust mites — this includes stacks of papers, old magazines and office equipment. File paper inside a cabinet to stay organized and keep dust away.
23. Letting the Trash Pile Up
You could attract some unwanted guests (like mice and roaches) inside your home if you let your trash pile up. Their droppings can worsen your allergies, so make sure you stick to a routine of taking out the trash.
24. Displaying Houseplants
You may enjoy your beloved fern, but houseplants encourage mold growth. Mold spores live in warm, wet dirt, so limit the amount and time you display them.
25. Not Attending to Your Gutters
Leaky gutters can cause excessive moisture to enter your basement or crawl space. If you don't have covered gutters, frequent litter removal is a must year-round.
26. Avoiding Protective Wear While Gardening
Even if you aren't highly allergic to pollen, it can still irritate your eyes, nose and throat. To prevent this, always wear a mask and gloves while working in the yard.
27. Inviting Allergens Into Your Yard
Avoid plants that are wind-pollinated — grasses are among the worst pollen offenders.