Whether it’s an old habit that we can’t break or we simply forget to be proactive, there are many things we do on a daily basis that leave germs and dirt in our homes. If you’re guilty of any of the following, start the new year off right by focusing on making the surfaces and air quality of your home healthier.
1. Wearing shoes in the home
Thousands of toxins, debris, and dirt collect on your shoes. In fact, in a recent study, 10 people wore brand new shoes for two weeks. By the end, 421,000 units of bacteria were found on the outside of the shoes, and 96 percent had fecal bacteria on them. You most certainly do not want to drag these onto the floors of your home, where your children and pets play. Take your shoes off outside or in the mudroom, and place them in a non-absorbent shoe tray. Don’t forget to clean the tray on a regular basis as well.
2. Failing to change the HVAC filters
Having a clean, properly functioning furnace and air conditioner are vital to good indoor air quality. The filters should be changed every 90 days.
3. Not sanitizing door knobs
Everyone in the home touches door knobs, including the door knob inside the bathroom door and the handle on the front door. Wipe them with a sanitizing wipe to kill germs that may have been on their hands.
4. Using the same kitchen sponges for too many days
Kitchen sinks have been shown to be dirtier than toilets in various studies, especially because the dampness is a breeding ground for bacteria like E. coli. A 2017 study found that sinks and sponges harbored fecal bacteria in 44 percent of homes, and 15 percent of homes tested positive for E. coli, mainly in the kitchen sinks. If you wash your dishes by hand, regularly wash the sponges as you’re doing so. Replace the sponges frequently, as germs and food waste will collect on the sponges.
5. Overcrowding your home with pillows and rugs
Having too many rugs, pillows, throws, and blankets in the living room will trap allergens, which can irritate the lungs of individuals who have asthma or allergies.
6. Failing to clean your blinds and curtains
You may only think of cleaning the blinds and curtains occasionally, but if your windows are open, those blinds and curtains collect all those outdoor allergens and dirt. They also become dirty from natural indoor dust, food residue, and multiple hands handling them.
7. Using the same shower curtain for too long
Mold and mildew quickly collect on shower curtains, creating a dirty appearance and poor air quality in the bathroom.
8. Mowing the lawn or gardening without a face mask or gloves
Mowing the lawn releases many allergens that can make it difficult to breathe, and there are many particles in dirt or poisonous plants in the ground that can irritate your hands.
9. Letting Max run back into the house without wiping his paws
Your dog will track mud into the home faster than you can say stop, and if he’s allowed on the furniture, that dirt will rub off onto the couch. Leave a towel near the dog’s entry door, and place a mat down inside the home where you can wipe him down.
10. Not clearing the litter box daily
We won’t get too detailed here, as it’s more than obvious why you should clear the litter box every day. As you do, remember to sanitize the area around the box to clear any debris or dust.
11. Allowing your pets to sleep in your bed with you
Pet dander is a common allergen, and the aforementioned dirt can easily be transferred to your bed. If you enjoy allowing your dog or cat to sleep in your bed, make extra efforts to bathe them regularly.
12. Failing to regularly vacuum
Carpets have gotten an extremely bad reputation in recent years for collecting and trapping allergens, but as long as you vacuum and dust regularly, you should be able to maintain a relatively clean environment in your home.
13. Allowing dust to collect on your hardwood floors
If you have hardwood floors, remember to dust and polish them regularly. While carpets may trap dust and debris, hardwood floors let them loose. That means you still have to at least sweep or dust them daily to get rid of the toxins.
14. Forgetting to dust the top of the ceiling fan and other light fixtures
The last thing you want to do is have your ceiling fan spray dust all over the room, causing everyone in the house to sneeze. Don’t forget to step up on that ladder to clean the tops of the fans and light fixtures.
15. Having too many paper products throughout the home
Books and print mail throughout the house may contribute to a musty odor, dust, and even termites. If you do enjoy collecting books, fan them out every now and then.
16. Sleeping directly on a mattress or pillow
Use sheets and pillowcases to keep your own skin and hair out of your pillows and mattresses. Wash them once a week at the very minimum, and use chemical-free, allergen-free detergent.
17. Failing to remove and clean the range hood filter
Remember to turn on the oven fan to suck up moisture as you’re cooking, but it’s also important to remove the range hood filter and clean it.
18. Neglecting the oven knobs
As you’re cleaning the stovetop and inside of the oven, don’t forget the oven knobs. The knobs are full of grease, food debris, moisture, and even germs from your hands.
19. Cross contaminating foods or not disposing of expired foods
Keep raw meats away from foods that are eaten raw, such as vegetables. Regularly go through your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry to toss foods, spices, and condiments that may have expired. (Review additional food poisoning prevention tips on the Centers for Disease Control website.)
20. Keeping expired medications in the home/not using a childproof cap
If your medications are expired, take them to the local police station for safe disposal during a Drug Takeback Day. Several police stations leave the receptacles available for use all year. Do not flush medications down the toilet or dilute them in the sink, as this will pollute rivers and lakes. You also shouldn’t simply toss the container in the trash can, because the label reveals private information. Finally, be sure to use a childproof cap if you have children in the home in order to prevent accidental poisoning.
21. Neglecting to sanitize remote controls
What do popcorn butter, pet dander, dust, particles from coughs and sneezes, and pizza grease have in common? Well, they’re all on your remote controls, of course! Wipe them with a sanitizing wipe daily.
22. Not regularly washing decorative pillows and throws in your living room
They have been used to warm your feet, bundled under your head, tossed on the floor, trampled on by your dog, and dragged by your toddler through the house.
23. Turning a blind eye to infants chewing on unsanitary toys
It’s natural and even healthy for them to explore with their mouths, but make sure what they’re putting into their mouths is sanitary and does not pose any choking hazards.
24. Not washing the things that are used to wash things
Your dishwasher, laundry washer, gardening hose, mop, and mop bucket work hard to keep your home clean, but what’s the use if they are not clean?
25. Not cleaning the things that are used to hold trash
That includes the trash cans in the bathrooms, kitchen, living room, and garage as well as the industrial trash receptacle outside.
26. Turning off the garbage disposal switch too soon
Allow the garbage disposal to run long enough to thoroughly grind food waste, or you may attract fruit flies or other insects.
27. Unnecessarily leaving food waste in the garbage can
As long as the waste is suitable for the garbage disposal, consider grinding it to get it out of the trash can in order to prevent odors.
28. Leaving the bottom of furniture dusty
As you’re vacuuming or sweeping, don’t forget to get under the furniture. If you must, move the furniture out of the way occasionally in order to give the ground underneath a more thorough clean.
29. Overlooking things you see every day
Over time, those pictures and decor blend into your home, so it’s easy to forget to dust or polish them.
30. Not dusting your plants
Having live plants in the home is a double-edged sword. Plants improve indoor air quality, but they themselves can collect dust and insects like mites. Clean the leaves by gently wiping them with cloth or cotton moistened with water.
31. Brewing a cup of coffee and never looking back
Dirt and mold can collect in many areas of your coffee brewer. Clean the washable parts regularly.
32. Allowing splashes of food to collect in the microwave
Clean the inside of the microwave immediately after a spill to keep the particles from hardening, which would make it harder to clean.
33. Not noticing every area of the toilet when cleaning it
You probably keep at least one eye closed while you’re scrubbing the toilet, but open it up. There are many nooks and crannies in and around the toilet that require your attention if you want to keep it clean.
34. Eating over your keyboard
All those crumbs in between the keys of your keyboard, as well as the grime on your monitor, contribute to an unhealthy environment in your home. Use an air duster to blow out the crumbs and dust, and then wipe the monitor, keyboard, and mouse with a microfiber cleaning cloth.
35. Forgetting to clean the toothbrush holder
You place your toothbrush in a toothbrush holder to keep the toothbrush sanitary, but is the toothbrush holder clean enough? Wash the holder with soap and water every few days.
36. Leaving liquids on the garage floor
Many people enjoy repairing vehicles or practicing their favorite hobbies in the garage, but that often leads to spilled oil or other chemicals that pollute the garage and pose a slipping hazard. Keep Floor-Dry or a container of dry, clean cat litter on hand to toss over the spills. After it soaks up the liquid, sweep up the litter and dispose of it safely.
37. Not whisking the couch prior to vacuuming
Stray kernels of popcorn, dust, and other dirt collect on and in your couches. Dust them off before you vacuum.
38. Using harsh cleansers
Many household cleaning products, detergents, and bleaches can irritate your eyes, lungs, and hands. Opt for all-natural cleaning products to keep the air cleaner, safer, and fresher.