Your dirty bed sheetsistock/MitshuThere's something delicious about falling into a cozy bed after a long day, but the icky details about dust mites dwelling in your bed sheets may leave you opting for the couch instead. According to refinery29.com, the average person sheds roughly half an ounce of dead skin every week, which stays in your sheets and becomes prime feeding material for dust mites. The fecal matter and other debris they leave behind can lead to some scary effects, exacerbating eczema, seasonal allergies, skin irritations, and more. (Here are other important things allergists wish you knew.) To keep these critters out of your snooze space, be sure to wash your bed sheets in 60-degree water at least once a week.
Contaminated heating and cooling ventsistock/BanksPhotosIf all of a sudden you begin feeling extra allergenic or sick for no apparent reason, contaminated heating and cool ducts may be to blame. The Environmental Protection Agency explains that a little bit of dust in these pipes is normal and largely harmless, but in some cases mold and other debris can build up, wreaking havoc on your health. Experts are still trying to determine whether or not cleaning the ducts prevents these health problems, but the majority agree that removing mold and other toxins from pipes that have become highly contaminated is a smart move. All homeowners should know about these critical maintenance moves.
Your old vacuumistock/gilaxiaYou probably consider your vacuum to be a staple cleaning tool in your home, but as it turns out, it may be doing more harm than good. A study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology tested 21 different vacuums—varying in brand, price, and age—and found that every single one released some dust, bacteria, and allergies into the air. This pollution was much more severe with older vacuums, and those that were not equipped with appropriate filters. The best way to prevent dirt and dust from flying back into your indoor air is to buy a vacuum equipped with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, and clean it regularly. If you live near a source of air pollution, such as an airport, a factory, or a busy highway, consider using an indoor air purifier, such as the Rowenta Intense Pure Air, to filter out chemicals as well as pollen that could otherwise trigger symptoms for people with allergies, asthma, and conditions like COPD.
Your pet's furistock/Tumble_weedFurry friends can be as loved and valued as human family members, but unfortunately, the dander they leave behind has the potential to make you sick. Made up of microscopic bits of dead skin, pet dander is notorious for causing people to sneeze and sniffle, especially people with pet allergies. According to the American Lung Association, the best way to prevent your allergies from flaring up around your pet is to keep it off of your furniture, fabrics, and carpets as much as possible. You should also be sure to dust and clean your home often, to stop dander from piling up. Check out the secrets your pet won't tell you!
Household cleaning products
istock/JevticThe majority of household cleaning products are packed with loads of potentially harmful chemicals that can cause a slew of different problems to your health. The most concerning products are those that contain cancer-causing carcinogens, such as certain laundry detergents that contain formaldehyde, and jewelry cleaners, which often carry the toxic chemical perchloroethylene. Fortunately, there are plenty of natural, harm-free ways to keep your home clean and shiny. Natural ingredients like lemon, cooking oil, vinegar, and baking soda will all get the job done, while keeping your health in check. These are the green cleaning products the pros love.
Secret strips of mold
istock/GoodLifeStudioHidden patches of mold can lurk in all different areas of your home, from your shower head to your drywall to your basement. According to ABC News, mold tends to build up in damp areas, especially if there's not much airflow or room for the moisture to escape. The potential effects of these hidden stretches of mold are frightening, as exposure can lead to nausea, headaches, nasal congestion, and more, and it can further exacerbate asthma symptoms. To rid your home of mold and protect yourself from its dangers, the EPA recommends using detergent and water to scrub the mold off of any hard surfaces, and increasing ventilation in the area as much as possible to prevent any further contamination. Plus, if you have small children in the home, check out these six ways to rid your kids' toys of mold.