Habits that make your home unsafe and unhygienic

Did you know that after just one day of use, our towels can harbour 17 million counts of bacteria.. PHOTO | COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • We have formed habits over a lifetime we think are harmless. For instance, we do not think twice about going to bed while our devices are charging, which is actually a potentially fire hazard. 

How often do you change your towels? Did you know that after just one day of use, our towels can harbour 17 million counts of bacteria? According to microbiologists, bathroom towels need to be washed at least every three days because they are exposed to fecal bacteria and other germs that sometimes get sprayed in the air when one flushes the toilet. 

To completely kill bacteria on your towels, eliminate bacteria, dirt, dead skin cells and allergens, wash your towels in hot water and let them dry completely before using them again.  

If you have sensitive or acne-prone skin, you may want to wash your towels after every use to lessen irritation. What other seemingly common habit is endangering your health?

Charging your phone on your bed

Charging your electronic devices on your bed  does not only lead to sleep disruptions but it is also a fire hazard. Electronic devices, including smartphones and laptops often generate heat while charging and placing them on a flammable surface such as a bed or pillow increases the risk of overheating and potentially causing a fire.

Consistently charging your phone on a soft surface can also hinder proper heat dissipation, which may affect the long-term health of your device’s battery. To ensure safety and improve your sleep quality, charge your devices on a hard, flat, and non-flammable surface such as a nightstand or desk.

Not cleaning door handles

Door handles are some of the most frequently touched surfaces and yet when we clean our homes, we forget or just wipe them lackadaisically. They are touched by every family member and every house guest, each leaving their own share of harmful microbes that can be easily transferred from one person to another.

To keep germs and viruses in check, disinfect your door handles at the end of every day with an antibacterial product with an alcohol content of more than 60 percent.

Wearing shoes indoors

It does not matter how clean your shoes may seem to you, but if they have been outside, chances are they have some form of contamination. These can include dirt, pesticides, chemicals and even fecal matter. For a cleaner and healthier home, experts recommend a shoe removal policy at your front door. 

Provide a designated area for shoes, such as a shoe rack or mat, to make it convenient for family members and guests. Additionally, regularly cleaning and disinfecting the area where shoes are stored can help minimise the spread of bacteria.

Neglecting your gutters

Gutters are designed to channel rainwater away from your home’s foundation and walls. When gutters become clogged with leaves, debris, or dirt, they are unable to perform this function effectively. Water may overflow, leading to water seepage, basement flooding and damage to the building’s foundation. 

Clogged gutters can also become a breeding ground for pests such as mosquitoes, ants and even rodents. Keeping gutters clean reduces the risk of pest infestations.

Regular gutter maintenance can help you avoid costly repairs and protect your home from water damage. If you are unable to clean your gutters yourself, consider hiring a professional gutter cleaning service to ensure the job is done correctly and safely.

Painting over rust

When you spray paint over rust, you may be able to successfully cover it up, but that does not mean the problem will go away for good. Rust develops progressively, and it can cause a lot of problems for metal items and surfaces. Even after you spray paint over rust, it may continue to spread and weaken the surface of your metal. 

The longer you wait before addressing rust development on a metal surface, the more widespread it will become and the more it will compromise the structural integrity of your metal.

Ultimately, spray painting over rust masks the issue, without doing anything to remove it or stop it from developing further. Before you paint a metal surface damaged by rust, make sure you clean and prepare the surface with effective rust removal products.

Using an old non-stick pan

As the non-stick coating deteriorates, there is a risk of small particles or chemicals from the coating being released into your food. While non-stick coatings such as Teflon are generally considered safe at normal cooking temperatures, when they deteriorate or overheat significantly, they can emit fumes or particles that may pose health concerns. 

Ultimately, the lifespan of non-stick cookware can vary based on usage and quality. High-quality non-stick cookware may last longer than lower-quality one. If your trusted pan has started sticking when you cook or it cooks unevenly, it is time to replace it.

Flushing the toilet with the lid up

When you flush a toilet with the lid open, a phenomenon known as “toilet plume”  can occur, which can send tiny water droplets and particles, potentially containing bacteria and viruses, into the air. To prevent the spread of germs, always close the toilet lid before flushing.

Regular cleaning and disinfection of the toilet bowl, seat and surrounding surfaces can help maintain a clean and germ-free bathroom. Use a disinfectant cleaner and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper disinfection. It is also advisable to store personal items such as toothbrushes and towels at a safe distance from the toilet to avoid potential contamination.

Leaving laptops charging unsupervised

Let us face it, we all have that laptop that requires hours of charging to be able to function.

However,  while it might seem as a good idea to leave it charging while you do other things, chances are when left plugged into its charger for a long time, both can overheat and potentially starting a fire. 

To prevent such accidents, never leave your laptop charging unsupervised for long periods, especially overnight or when no one is home.

The junk drawer

Why do we even have a drawer dedicated to junk? By definition, junk would be things we do not need anymore, so why are we keeping them? But we do, and most household have that drawer or cabinet full of odds and ends that could not be stored anywhere else.  

However, this space has a way of hiding the things you store there when you need them most. To clear the junk drawer, set an afternoon aside and decide where everything should go. Consider investing in some handy storage solutions such as baskets or over-the-door hanging organisers.