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11 Overlooked Things at Home that are Potentially Making You Sick

Constantly having allergies or falling sick? These things in your home might be the cause of it.

1. Bathroom tile grout: Because of the porosity of grout, they tend to absorb anything that comes their way. Left unchecked, it can trigger mould growth. Mould, in larger amounts, can become harmful to our health, causing us to develop respiratory symptoms or allergies. The best way to keep mould at bay is through prevention by keeping moisture in check. Consider installing ventilation fans in the bathroom or just making sure your bathroom is well-ventilated especially after a hot shower. Wipe down your wet tile areas as often as you can with a wall squeegee and don’t wait until your grouting is dirty before cleaning them

Design: Dots ‘n’ Tots Interior Design

2. Rugs: Rugs, especially high-pile ones, can house all sorts of dirt, grime, dead insects or dust mites if you don’t regularly clean them. We recommend vacuuming them at least once a week. Don’t neglect the backside of your rug when vacuuming. If you are deep cleaning your rugs, make sure you use a shampoo that is specifically for carpets and rugs and follow the directions on the bottle. Sending rugs for a professional clean? First find out about the cleaning products they use. Some professional cleaners use harsh chemicals that can pose health and safety concerns.

Design: Happe Design Atelier

3. Kitchen sponge: Studies have found kitchen sponges to be dirtier than the toilet, harbouring tons of bacteria that can transfer to your dishes, chopping board or anything else you clean with your sponge. While we can’t say the same for everybody’s sponge, it is definitely not cleaned or replaced as often as it should. Experts recommend changing your sponge at least once a week. Use it only just for dirty dishes rather than your entire sink and countertop. Make the habit of rinsing your dishes under running water first before sponging them so you can reduce food debris, raw meat juices or any other grime sticking onto the sponge. Rinse your sponge well after use and leave it out to dry rather than have it sit in a container of soapy water.

4. Dish Drainer Rack: Like the kitchen sponge, your dish drainer rack is probably equally gross, thanks to the fact that it’s always damp. If your rack comes with a drip tray at the bottom, the standing water there makes it the perfect breeding ground for mildew, mould and other organisms like mosquitoes. Don’t want to be the next dengue statistic? Empty the tray at the end of every day and give it a quick rinse under the sink to get rid of any slime. Consider alternative dish drainers like a dish drainer mat or an over-the-sink roller mat that lets you dry your dishes over the sink. Or get a rack with a sloped tray so there won’t be any standing water.

Design: Starry Homestead

5. Cutting board: How many cutting boards do you have in your kitchen? Likely only one. This is problematic as it can lead to cross contamination between the different foods we cut, causing food poisoning. You will want at least two cutting boards—one for chopping raw food and the other for ready-to-eat and cooked food. You can get a third one to separate for cutting meats and vegetables. Wash the cutting boards thoroughly after every use to prevent bacteria from growing on them.

Design: 13th Design Studio

6. Mattress: Like rugs, mattresses are a hotbed of dust mites since these pests feed on the dead skin cells of humans. These mites can trigger a host of allergies (some symptoms include runny nose, eczema and watery eyes) and asthma. The solution? Get a mattress protector over your mattress which not only helps to prevent dust mites getting into your mattress but also enables you to wash the protector regularly. Don’t neglect changing your bedding often—at least once every two weeks—and air your pillows and bolsters out in the sun every once in a while to help eliminate germs and bacteria.

» Read more: 8 Tips for a Bedroom That Gives You 8 Hours of Quality Sleep

Design: D’ Initial Concept

7. Door handles and light switches: These places are some of your home’s high touch points and often neglected when it comes to cleaning your home. They need to be disinfected and cleaned regularly even if they don’t seem dirty. At least once a week or more often if there’s someone who’s sick at home. First, use a cloth to remove any dirt and grime then spray a disinfectant over the surface. Wipe away any excess liquid with a clean cloth after the disinfectant is allowed to sit for a while on the surface.

8. Refrigerator: Your refrigerator can make you sick if you are not storing food or groceries in a proper manner or if you don’t clean your fridge as regularly as you should. Always store cooked food and leftovers in the top shelves, dairy in the middle compartments and raw meats in the lower shelves. Doors are reserved for beverages and condiments like ketchup and oyster sauce. Don’t store perishables at the doors because the temperature there fluctuates which can cause your foods to go bad quickly. When it comes to storing vegetables and fruits, store them at the crisper drawers and store like with like to maximise freshness. Never overstuff your fridge as that will bring the temperature of your appliance down and cause foods to go bad inside.

Microbes also grow on spilled food left uncleaned, mouldy food left forgotten in the fridge or sticky lids from sauce bottles. So make sure you clean out your refrigerator often—once every other month is ideal. Empty your fridge, wipe down sticky jam jars and grimy containers. Remove inner compartments and shelves if you can, let them cool a while before running them down with warm water and soap. Wipe down the insides of your fridge with natural cleaning agents like a mixture of white vinegar and water or baking soda and water and then going through again with a clean cloth before replacing everything back.

9. Washing machine: Your washer doesn’t clean itself. Detergent and moisture build-up can lead to mildew and mould growth within the appliance. Some tell-tale signs of a mildew and mould infestation in your washer: musty smells on your laundry or on the washer itself and unexplained stains and spots on your clothes. Leave the door of the washer open after every wash to dry up the moisture. Once every month, run the clean tub cycle with a tub cleaner or a cup of white vinegar. Wipe down the rubber seals on the door with a clean damp cloth. Front loaders are also more susceptible to mould growth so you will want to take on a more regular cleaning schedule if you are opting for a front loader.

» Read more: Top 8 Easy Maintenance Tips To Extend The Life Span of Your Washing Machine

Design: Schemacraft Interior

10. Indoor plants: For fans of the jungalow trend, your houseplants may be making you sick by exposing you to mould, which can trigger allergies on some people who are particularly sensitive. Mould growth happens when you overwater your plants or they lack sunlight. To prevent this from happening, only water your houseplants when the top of the soil feels dry. Make sure your plants get enough sunlight and ventilation and that there’s proper drainage. Place a layer of sand or tiny pebbles at the bottom of the pot to prevent soil from clogging up the holes.

Design: D5 Studio Image

11. Home fragrances: While scent is so important in completing the experience of your home, the chemicals (e.g. phthalates) present in some home fragrances can be harmful to your health when exposed to it in the long term. Instead of resorting to chemical-laden home fragrances, opt for natural, homemade options like a stovetop potpourri of your favourite spices. Use baking soda, coffee beans to get rid of musty smells and ventilate your home frequently to freshen things up. If candles are your home fragrance of choice, make sure you’re getting natural candles made from beeswax or soy wax rather than ones made from paraffin wax.

» Read more: Ask the Experts: A Visual Guide to Scented Candles


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