Common Household Mistakes That Are Harming Your Health

Monica Gray - January 31, 2023

Breaking a habit can take anywhere from 21 to 250 days, but did you know that some everyday household habits may be silently damaging your health? From not washing your hands often enough to wearing shoes inside the house, it can be difficult to keep track of all the ways we may be exposing ourselves to harmful germs. But don’t worry, Home Addict is here to help. By making small changes to your daily routine, you can improve the safety and cleanliness of your home and promote a healthier lifestyle for you and your family. So, let’s take a closer look at those lesser-known habits and start making positive changes today.

potiondrinkeronline/ Reddit

Those Wet Towels Aren’t Rugs

If you’ve grown accustomed to tossing your towel on the floor after a shower, try and break that harmful habit. The towel doesn’t dry properly, and it leads to bad smells. It also makes your bathroom much dirtier and becomes the perfect place for mold and mildew to grow. On a damp surface, mold and mildew can grow in as little as 24 to 48 hours. If it’s Monday morning, and that towel you threw on your floor during your Saturday morning hangover is still there, it’s time to pick it up and wash it (FEMA).

born_to_runner_up/ Reddit

The Stove Knobs Need Love, Too

You probably already clean your stove religiously. After cooking a messy meal, you can’t ignore the pasta sauce or onions that fall out of the pan and onto the stove. And while many of us are pros at cleaning the stove, we often neglect the stove knobs. They’re just as important as the stove itself, and ignoring their cleanliness is harming your health. Think about how often you touch the knobs, and how often you splatter food while you’re cooking? To clean them, remove them and dunk them in hot water full of antibacterial soap. Do this about once a week. In a study conducted by NSF, they found that 27% of stove knobs contained mold and yeast, and 14% contained coliform bacteria (My Move).

Reddit/ SenorDuck96

Say Goodbye To That Old Sponge Once A Week

We hate to break it to you, but that old sponge that harbors so many memories of washing dishes also harbors a ton of bacteria. It’s the object in your home that holds the most bacteria, and studies have found that almost all sponges had E.coli, 15% had Salmonella, 86% had mold and yeast, 77% had coliform bacteria, and 18% had staph bacteria. To minimize the build-up of bacteria, it’s recommended to change your sponge once a week. To prevent harming your health and risking disease, buy sponges in multipacks. This will help you replace that dirty sponge and is more cost-effective (MDLinx).

Huffington Post

Too Much Cleaning Product Is Bad

Most of us probably never follow the instructions on cleaning product packaging. But they’re there for a reason. Using more spray cleaner, wood polish, and detergent than is necessary causes a build-up of the product on surfaces. This means you’ll have to clean more often and use those harmful products again and again. Using too much can irritate your eyes and throat, and release dangerous chemicals into your home that you’re breathing in day after day. It’s better to use a more natural alternative, like white vinegar and lemon juice (Lung).

JudgeREEEE/ Reddit

Straighten That Bunched Up Shower Curtain

The last thing you want to do after taking a nice shower is straighten the damp shower curtain. But it’s important to let it dry, just as it’s important to leave your towel hanging out to dry. Leaving it bunched up encourages the growth of mildew and mold, which can harm your health over time. Mildew tends to be white, gray, or yellow, and mold is black or green. Mildew can easily grow in any space that has gotten wet, like your shower curtain. It can also build up and grow in the folds of the shower curtain. If you already have mold in your curtain, purchase a new one and start these healthy habits today (Healthy Tipping Point).


Relocating Your Dust To The Floor

Dusting after you vacuum is creating more hard work for yourself. It’s like eating food off of a plate you just cleaned and then putting it into the cupboard. When you dust, particles fall from your furniture to the floor. If you’ve already vacuumed, then all you’re doing is relocating the dust from the top of your furniture to your floor. Wait to vacuum until after you’ve dusted everything (Love Property).

Organized Housewife

Clean Those Door Handles

Think about how often you touch your door handles. Between a family of five, it’s probably dozens of times per day. Harmful microbes linger on the doorknobs, which easily transfer from one person to another. Make it a habit to disinfect your doorknobs once per day to stay on top of your and your family’s health. At any point, there’s an average of five different types of germs living on your door handle. It only takes 30 seconds to clean a doorknob, and the effort is worth it (House Digest).


Burning Harmful Items

Before you start tossing everything left and right into your fireplace to counteract that winter chill, check that it’s safe to burn. Colored paper increases flame temperature and may emit toxic fumes. Other things that are more self-explanatory include wet wood, plastic, and cardboard. Oftentimes, cardboard is treated with chemicals, which could potentially release hazardous fumes into the air (Health News Hub).

Shared Threads

Pluck Out That Dryer Lint

Make it a habit to pluck that lint out of your dryer. When lint builds up in the filter, it restricts airflow and doesn’t dry your clothes as efficiently. This is harmful to your health because it can increase humidity, thus increasing mold and mildew in the walls near your dryer. Not only that, but it poses a fire risk. After every single load of laundry, get that lint out of the filter. You could even hang up a sign if you’re the sort of person who finds it difficult to remember. You can even make homemade lint paper from all the lint you’ve collected. This is a fun activity to do with your kids (Love Property).


Did You Know Your Toilet Water Sprays Fecal Matter?

Just as women always have to remind men to put the toilet seat down, we all have to remember to close the toilet seat lid before we flush. When we flush with the lid open, we’re sending super-fine sprays of fecal matter and bacteria-filled water into the air. Once you know that piece of information, you’ll never flush the toilet with the seat open again. This can get on our exposed toothbrushes, sink handles, and bath soap. Not only that, but the water also includes pathogens that are harmful to your health (USA Today).

plathdad/ Reddit

Reusing Old Non-Stick Pans That Are Falling Apart

If your non-stick pan looks like an abstract Picasso painting, then you should probably throw it away. Over time, the Teflon coating on non-stick pans breaks down. Utensils may have left a zig-zag of marks, further tearing the coating. The coating ends up in the food you cook. These are toxic chemicals that are horrible for your health. It’s better to replace the pan at the first sign of wear and tear (Healthline).

The How To Home

Using One Disinfectant Wipe For The Bathroom

Not only may we be using disinfectant wipes too quickly to clean our bathroom, but we’re not using enough wipes. One wipe doesn’t contain enough disinfectant to clean your whole bathroom. You need to use one for the shower, one for the sink, one for the toilet, and so on. If you want to be environmentally friendly and avoid using more than one to be a greener person, you can purchase biodegradable wipes that are plastic-free. These break down faster in dumps than wipes containing plastic do, and are certainly better for your health. You can even make your own homemade disinfectant wipes using only two ingredients, isopropyl alcohol and hydrogen peroxide, and optional essential oils (Nice N Clean Wipes).


Leaving Your Laundry In A Pile In The Washing Machine

Putting a load of laundry in the washing machine before you head to work might seem like a good idea, but it’s harmful to your health. Multitasking seems preferable when you’re on the go, but leaving your wet clothes in a pile in the machine makes favorable conditions for mold to build up. Your clothes will also smell worse, and you’ll have to end up washing them again to get rid of the bacteria and smell. We recommend putting the laundry on the right when you get home from work, and then cooking dinner or cleaning the house at the same time until it’s ready to dry. That way, you’re still multitasking but won’t leave your clothes in a wet pile all day (Martha Stewart).

Gutter Cleaning.

Don’t Neglect Those Gutters

Just because it’s a gutter, doesn’t mean you should forget about them. If you constantly neglect your gutters, it may lead to water seepage and issues in the structure. This is not only harmful to your health, but it can cause more significant problems in the future that are a lot more time-consuming. The dirt and rocks that pile up in the gutter may eventually block your gutter drainage. Try and clean your gutters twice a year, or up to four times per year if your house is surrounded by trees. You can make it a fun afternoon in the sun. It doesn’t have to feel like work (Gutter Maintenance UK).


Throwing Your Food Down The Sink Causes Disgusting Bacteria Growth

Better yet, throw your organic food in a compost bin. Don’t throw it down the sink. It’s an easy habit to wash away that excess plate food down the sink, but this can cause blockages and make favorable conditions for the growth of bacteria. Food scraps, grease, and other organic matter can accumulate in the pipes and traps of a sink, leading to unpleasant odors. Throw your leftover food into the bin and then wash your plate. It’s a little bit more time-consuming, but it’s better than having blocked drains (Love Property).


Using Too Much Bleach Can Be Dangerous For Your Health

You may find it easy to clean your entire house with bleach, but overdoing it can be harmful. Just as eating too much salt is bad for your health, cleaning your house with too much bleach is harmful to your health. It’s corrosive to the skin and eyes, and breathing in the fumes may eventually damage your lungs. This happens by a build-up of fluid that may lead to severe shortness of breath. Make sure you dilute the bleach with water or use an eco-friendly bleach that’s better for the environment (Michigan).

Good Housekeeping

Don’t Leave Food Out For Your Four-Legged Friends 24/7

As much as we want to feed our four-legged friends all the time, it’s harmful to your and your pet’s health to leave food out in the bowl. It becomes a breeding ground for germs. Make sure you wash their bowls with soap and hot water to remove any of these germs. Even though it’s another thing to add to the list, the efforts are worth it. Studies have shown that pet bowls are the third most contaminated item in the household, and become a breeding area for E.Coli and Salmonella (USPCA).


Open Those Windows In Winter

As much as you want to keep your windows shut in the wintertime, it’s important to open them every so often. You need to keep the air flowing through your house year-round. This helps prevent dampness problems and mold and mildew from building up. This also prevents condensation from building up. This provides ample air exchange and helps ventilate your home by providing fresh air. Get rid of that contaminated, stale air by opening a window for a few minutes. You’ll notice the fresh air straight away (Simons Windows).


Hot Showers Breed Mold & Mildew

There’s nothing better than a long, hot shower after a hike in summer or going outside in winter. It can also be hard to step out of a hot shower and into a chilly home, but keeping the hot water constantly running is bad for your health. This creates a moist environment where mildew and mold will thrive. The water collects on your walls and drips down your floors. They’ll enjoy your hot showers as much as you do. Limit your showers to 15 minutes at most, and always open a window afterward to let the cold air in (Tricity Appliance).

The Washington Post.

The Bottoms Of Your Shoes Can Have Germs Such as E. coli & Salmonella

In Asia, leaving your shoes outside is not just a tradition but also a hygienic practice. By removing your shoes at the front door, you can prevent the transfer of thousands of bacteria from your shoes into your home. A study by a professor at the University of Arizona found that, on average, our shoes carry 421,000 units of bacteria, with nearly 3,000 units located inside our shoes. This highlights the importance of leaving your shoes outside to limit the spread of harmful germs in your living space. (Patho3gen).

Clean Remote.

Wipe Down The TV Remote

Just like your doorknobs, your TV remote also needs to be wiped down. Think about how often you and your family touch the remote. Every time, a host of bacteria transfers from your hand to the remote and then stays there. Remove the batteries and use a disinfectant cloth to clean the remote. Run the cloth between the keys to making sure you get the dirt that’s wedged underneath the buttons. You can also use a Q-tip to get the bits that are hard to reach. Not only will it remove germs, but it’ll look and smell cleaner, too, especially when you get the dirt wedged in between the buttons (Love Property)

Killentyme55/ Reddit

Piles of Dishes In The Sink Is Breeding Bacteria

If you’re a procrastinator, we have bad news for you. Just like the kitchen sponge, the kitchen sink has tons of E.coli. After a study conducted by the University of Arizona, it turns out that the sink has more E.Coli than a toilet. If you leave the dishes in for an entire day, or overnight, it allows for tons of bacteria to grow. You don’t want to eat dishes that were exposed to health-harming bacteria. Bacteria can survive up to four days after you used the dishes, which can spread around your kitchen and contaminate the rest of your house (Taste Of Home).


Put That Extra Food In The Fridge, Not The Oven

Your oven has one purpose, and it’s for cooking. It’s not a storage unit. Try and get out of the habit of storing pots, pans, and dried goods in your oven. If someone accidentally switches the oven on to preheat it, without realizing there’s a plastic bag of bread inside, this could potentially start a fire and emit harmful, toxic fumes into the air. You wouldn’t want to try dealing with a melted piece of plastic while you’re also trying to cook a big dinner for guests or your family. Melted plastic will also leave a horrible smell in your home that’ll take days to get rid of. If you need to store something in the oven, leave a note hanging over the oven door to easily remember to take it out. But try and avoid it altogether. Or, like this Reddit user, don’t accidentally leave your phone in the oven (My Recipes).


Drain Cleaner Fumes Could Be Dangerous

It may sound like it’s helping, but too much drain cleaner is harming your health and home.drain cleaner fumes can be harmful to human health. Drain cleaners contain strong chemicals, such as lye and sulfuric acid, which emit toxic fumes when used. Inhaling these fumes can irritate the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs, and cause symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. In severe cases, exposure to drain cleaner fumes can lead to chemical burns, lung damage, or even death. The drain cleaners also erode pipes. For a healthier, more environmentally friendly alternative, pull out the plunger, pour white vinegar and baking soda down the pipes, and then wash with hot water an hour later (Love Property).

imnotmarvin/ Reddit

Empty The Vacuum After You Clean

It may seem mundane, but you must empty your vacuum after you clean your house. Yes, it’s annoying, considering you just spent an hour cleaning up the floor, but it’s a necessary way to stay on top of your health. If you allow dust and dirt to build up in your vacuum cleaner’s bag, it may not work properly. This is frustrating when it happens in the middle of a cleaning session. It’s also recommended to change the filter on your vacuum every three to six months. If you use your vacuum more often then it’s recommended to change it even sooner, especially if you’re more prone to allergies (Think Crucial).

wourder_Leone/ Reddit

Scrub Those Hands

They’ve taught us to wash our hands ever since kindergarten. It’s ingrained in our brains, and yet, we still don’t wash our hands when we get home. Imagine all the doorknobs, cash, handles, sink knobs, and more you’ve touched just walking around? COVID taught us a new understanding of hygiene, but we have to keep at it. As soon as you step through the front door, it’s important to wash your hands for at least twenty seconds. Rub your hands with soap and hot water, lather them and cover every part of your hand to ensure a deep clean (CDC).

Cac4392/ Reddit

Never Wash Your Bedsheets? Change That Habit

It’s obvious when clothes need to be washed. They become visibly dirty and smelly. But what about your bedsheets? They need to be cleaned frequently, too. Germs will inevitably build up, and the longer you wait to wash them, the more germs there are. We should wash our bathroom towels every three to four days, and our sheets weekly. This will prevent mold and fungi from building up over time. If you have a furry friend who loves to join you on your bed for cuddles, then you should wash your bed sheets even more often, like every three to four days. Or, if you’ve recently been sick with a fever, it’s also a good idea to wash the sheets (Sleep Foundation).


Stay On Top Of The Smoke Alarm

It’s a no-brainer, but the smoke alarm could save you and your family’s life. There’s a reason we have smoke alarms in our homes. They need to be tested once a month. All you have to do is press the button and listen to the alarm. Also make sure you replace the batteries once per year, to make sure they’re working at their highest potential. At the same time, you could discuss your home fire plan with your family. This is a game plan in case there is a fire in your home. Talk about an exit strategy and ways to prevent fires from happening (Franklin Ma).

erinohhhhhh/ Reddit

Switch Up The Chopping Boards

Using the same chopping board for vegetables and meat is a big no-no. This increases your risk of transferring bacteria from raw meat to your vegetables. To prevent harmful microbes from invading your dinner, make sure you use different cutting boards for your food. You can color code the boards or label them. Also, make sure you thoroughly wash and dry the cutting boards when you’re finished. It’s also important to replace wooden chopping boards when they become warped or grooved. Bacteria may accumulate and grow in the seams of the board, so you must make sure it stays clean. Try and avoid using cutting boards that are built into your countertop, since bacteria and dirt can get trapped underneath the edges (Linkedin).

jibbit/ Reddit

Painting Over The Rusty Railing

Instead of painting over the rusty railings in your garden or balcony, it’s better to replace them. By just painting over it, you’re not solving the problem, just masking it. Rust prevents new paint from taking hold, so it won’t last very long. The rust bleeds through the paint and discolors it. Or, take off all the old paint and start from scratch. If you have the budget and the time, it’s best to just replace the railings altogether. That way, you have a fresh start and can select a railing that looks best with your home. It’s always fun revamping the exterior of your property. You and your family deserve a new start and a different style (Love Property).