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Never before has the importance of staying healthy been so keenly felt as during the past year. The British population has been advised — and at times legally required — to “stay at home” to prevent themselves and others from contracting COVID-19. That said your house is making you sick.

damp in corner of a white room

But how healthy is your home? Could it be responsible for those persistent aches, pains and sniffles? And more to the point, what can you do to make your home a more healthy environment? 

Toxic Dust

The dust in our homes may look harmless, but it often contains an unhealthy mix of chemicals from the products we use. These chemicals can lead to serious health conditions such as asthma, cancer and infertility.

Keep dust at bay by vacuuming and wiping down surfaces regularly. Don’t ignore those hard to reach spots — use hoover attachments, feather dusters and any tools you need to prevent the build-up of toxic dust.

Mould

Hidden leaks, heating systems and poor ventilation can all contribute to mould forming around the home. Moulds produce allergens, irritants and sometimes toxic substances, all of which can lead to unpleasant symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, sore eyes and skin rashes, as well as severe allergic reactions and asthma attacks. So with mould, your house is making you sick.

Mould is caused by excess moisture, so the first step in eradicating and preventing it is to identify areas in the home where conditions are ripe for it to form. The warm, noisy and dark space under sinks and in the shower or bath are common places for mould to form. If it has been left untreated for a long time, you may need to hire a professional to remove it. Damage caused by serious mould, damp and rot can cost thousands to repair and is a major red flag for house buyers. So if you’re seeking a quick house sale, tackling mould should be a priority.

Dust Mites 

These microscopic bugs can be found in every home and you’d probably be horrified to discover how many live in your favourite sofa and even your bed. They love humidity and warmth, so anything your body comes into regular contact with is probably riddled with mites. Some people can live in blissful cohabitation with these pesky critters and experience no negative impact on their health. For others, for example, those with allergies, asthma or other respiratory conditions, mites can exacerbate symptoms and make daily life unbearable.

The only way to keep dust mites under control is to regularly wash fabrics such as bedding and towels at a high temperature. You can also buy bedding specially designed to prevent mites from getting through to your pillow or mattress. If you have carpeted floors, vacuum at least weekly and keep surfaces free of dust.

Plastic Pollution

If you use a lot of plastic containers in the kitchen, chemicals such as BPA and phthalates can seep into your food when it is reheated. The jury is out on how harmful these chemicals are to our health, but the increase in regulations in the US around the use of BPA and the growth in “BPA-free” products suggest mounting concern over their use in products designed for food storage. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has deemed BPA products safe to use, but research conducted in the US has linked the chemical to neonatal and infant brain and reproductive harm.

Keep the use of plastic in the kitchen to a minimum. Look carefully at “BPA-free” products — the manufacturers will probably have replaced one chemical with another. Opt for natural materials such as beeswax wraps or store food in glass jars. 

Chemical-Filled Cleaning Products

Most of us have at least one cupboard or under sink area filled with chemical-filled cleaning products. We all know that keeping our homes clean and germ-free is one of the best strategies for keeping illness, including the coronavirus, at bay. But are these products doing us more harm than good? Your house is making you sick with these.

Surely cleaning products designed for the home are safe to use? Problems often arise when chemicals that are safe to use on their own are mixed with other products to create a harmful substance. Some of the most dangerous household cleaning combinations include bleach and vinegar, which together make chlorine gas. Ammonia and bleach produce a super-strength solution and mixing different drain unblockers can cause an explosion. 

To stay safe and protect your health while keeping your home clean, follow the manufacturer’s instructions, do not combine products and stick to natural ingredients where possible. For example, vinegar mixed with water is an effective way to clean windows and glass. 

There are many ways your home could be making you sick, from mould and dust mites to the overuse of plastic and harsh cleaning products. Cleaning regularly and minimising the use of chemicals can help you to maintain a healthy living environment.

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