You haven’t washed your kids’ toys
It’s not just cold and flu germs that linger on your child’s toys – although that can happen, especially after play dates. But toxic dust can settle on playthings as well. “Make sure to wash kid’s toys and stuffed animals frequently to minimise dust that collects on these surfaces,” says Samara Geller, a senior research and database analyst at Environmental Working Group (EWG). But, don’t feel you have to use harsh cleansers on your children’s toys. “Children can be especially sensitive to chemicals in cleaning products,” Geller says. Cleaning them with soap and water, or putting them in the washer if they can be machine-washed, will do.
You don’t have a mattress protector
Your sleeping space can also be a “hotbed” of dust mites, which are a trigger for allergies and asthma, according to the American Lung Association. The tiny pests, which feed off dead skin cells from humans, like to settle and nest in bedding. “The most important thing for dealing with dust mites is to have a mattress protector cover over the mattress, which then prevents dust mites from going into your mattress,” Maker says. “Then you can just wash the mattress protector from time to time. Number two, changing your sheets frequently is the best way to keep dust mites at bay.” Wash in the hottest water possible to make sure you’re killing the bugs, she says.
Your house is too clean
It is possible to go overboard with your cleaning – a certain amount of germ exposure is actually healthy. “When we over-disinfect our house and get rid of too much bacteria, it backfires on us,” Maker says. “Soap and water is a super-effective cleaner that will protect us from most things,” and what it doesn’t remove will give our immune system a healthy challenge, she says.
There’s another issue with antimicrobial cleaning products and disinfectants, says Geller: They encourage the creation of bacteria that can’t be killed. “Disinfectants may facilitate the growth of antibiotic-resistant superbugs, and the ingredients in many are harmful to human health and the environment,” she says. “Most routine cleaning does not require disinfection – simple soap and water are enough to remove most household dirt and organic matter.”
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