3 things you might not realize are affecting your health at home

Homesickness can take on a new meaning for you once you realize that some of the ordinary things around your home may be affecting your health.

While the home can be a safe place, if it’s not cleaned properly, it can also be a petri dish of substances that can make you sick.

With so many things to worry about, it can be easy to overlook the little things, but even those little things can take a toll on your body.

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“People have to really pay attention to good old fashioned cleaning just to stay healthy,” says Mike Bidwill, president and CEO of Neighborly, a network of home service brands.

Here are some things in your home that are practically invisible, or that require a closer look—and can affect your immune system.

3 things in your home that can make you sick

  1. Unclean air filters
  2. musty
  3. Germs especially in bathrooms or kitchens

Unclean air filters

If you’re not changing your air filters often enough, Bidwill says, it’s likely degrading the air quality in the home.

He adds that an unclean air filter can trigger allergies and provide less ventilation in your home, which reduces protection against respiratory viruses.

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“It’s about the simplest thing a homeowner can do to maintain indoor air quality, especially during flu season and [with] Other circulating respiratory viruses,” Bidwill says.

Even in the warmer months, dust buildup in filters can exacerbate your allergy symptoms because pollen and mold can seep into the unit and redistribute throughout the house, he says.

Bidwell recommends changing the air filter every three months, at least, to prevent these outcomes. If you have a pet or suffer from allergies, he suggests replacing them every 60 days.

Exposure to mold

Mold isn’t as much of a concern in homes because it’s more prevalent outdoors, according to Dr. Andre Speck, assistant professor of medicine and director of the Invasive Fungus Clinic at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Indeed, mold is everywhere that people have occupied; Spies says the damage lies in large doses indoors.

“Some people in their homes can have very high levels of mold. Most commonly, what you’ll see is an exacerbation of allergies and asthma,” says Speck.

He adds that this often happens in people who are already prone to allergies and asthma.

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According to Doyle, common places in the home where you can see mold live are:

  • Where the tiles meet the sink in the bathroom
  • around or inside appliances, especially front-loading washing machines
  • Under sinks, especially cabinets under the kitchen sink
  • Bathroom cabinets near or under the sink

With a solution of bleach and water in a spray bottle, you can probably clean mold off hard, non-porous surfaces while wearing rubber gloves and eye protection, says Bidwell. “Saturate it well and let it sit for one to two hours,” he says.

It’s important to make sure to dilute every six to eight ounces of bleach with a gallon of water, he advises.

smooth surfaces with mold Throw it in, Bidwell adds, including drywall and insulation. Speke strongly advises against using bleach on wood surfaces; Instead, he suggests using vinegar to stop mold growth in those places.

If cleaning mold in your home feels out of your control or mold has spread too far, both experts recommend hiring a professional to get the job done.

Germs on hard surfaces

During flu season, Bidwill encourages you to wipe down the hard surfaces in your home frequently. This includes doorknobs, light switches, knobs, keyboards, toilets, and remote controls.

“By the way, those [products] You need a few minutes to operate. You can’t just spray it on and then dry it right away.”

He adds that you should also pay closer attention to rooms like kitchens and bathrooms, where the most germs tend to accumulate, especially if you have kids at school who might be bringing viruses home.

“It’s a good thing to walk around and check these things out sometimes,” Bidwell says.

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