These Common Household Items Are Making Your Home Unhealthy

Couch The dangers of your living room couch go beyond living a sedentary lifestyle. To begin with, most couches are sprayed with flame-retardant chemicals and made… Samantha Davis - September 30, 2022

It seems that the closer you look around you, the more dangers you’ll find lurking in your home. This includes things hidden in the four walls of your home. Some of these things are easy to overlook, particularly because things like toxic fumes, hidden mold and mildew growth, chemicals and toxins, and bacteria aren’t always visible to the naked eye. But fear not! We’ve compiled a list of items/places that are making your home unhealthy. This includes surprising places to find germs as well as the dangers of the materials used in things like your carpet and couch. Lucky for you, we’ve also gone over things you can do to reduce your exposure to these things.

Painting in an enclosed area can cause breathing problems and headaches. Time.

Paint Fumes

Painting is one of those DIY tasks around the house that can really change your living space. Plus, when you’re looking for a DIY project to tackle, painting is pretty easy to do yourself and a great place to start. The problem is that while painting can renew your living space, it can also introduce unhealthy paint fumes into the air.

Wearing protective gear and choosing low VOC paints reduces exposure to fumes. ISHN.

The harmful fumes given off by paint are called VOCs (volatile organic compounds). VOCs irritate the nose and throat and can cause symptoms like dizziness, difficulty breathing, and even fainting with prolonged exposure. Buying no-VOC and low-VOC paint and painting in a well-ventilated space by opening doors and windows reduce your exposure.

Textiles you’re wearing or around every day could be damaging your health. Bright Side.

Too Many Textiles

Many people overlook textiles as something that could be causing them harm. However, the clothes you wear could also be a hazard to how well you breathe and how your skin feels. For example, the popular fabrics like polyester and nylon don’t let skin breathe and can worsen eczema symptoms and cause skin rashes. Leftover dyes also stain skin and cause irritation.

Different textiles can be skin and lung irritants. Shutterstock

Some textiles are even hazardous to your health. The fabrics rayon and acrylic emit chemicals that cause symptoms like headache, nausea, and dizziness, and can even cause limb weakness and difficulty breathing. They are also harmful to the environment, from the beginning of the manufacturing process to the many years that textiles spend polluting landfills once nobody wants them anymore.

Old vacuum cleaners come with a host of issues. Shutterstock.+

Older Vacuum Cleaners

Most people vacuum their carpet to remove dirt, dust, hair, and other particles that build up over time. Unfortunately, a study published in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology tested some of the leading brands on the market and found that most vacuum cleaners release fine particles of dust and bacteria into the air, which can cause respiratory symptoms and illness.

Newer HEPA vacuums are more likely to be effective at removing dust. Allergy Consumer Review.

Additionally, while newer HEPA vacuum cleaners are supposed to reduce dust and pollen in the air, some don’t actually do what they are supposed to. That being said, as long as you are using a new HEPA model, then vacuuming is at least somewhat effective. As long as the vacuum is working efficiently and cleaned regularly, it does more good than harm.

Dirty Shower Heads

There are some areas that are all too easy to overlook when you’re cleaning your home. Researchers at Manchester University tested shower head bacteria from various residential bathrooms and found that shower heads are a breeding ground for bacteria. They found significant levels of bacteria, including bacteria that causes eye or scalp infections and the bacteria that causes Legionnaire’s disease.

Cleaning an unclean shower head before use is best practice. The Home Depot.

So, what can you do? To begin with, you should clean your showerhead regularly, and not just the parts you can see. You should also be rising the water before you use. Lay the shower head on the floor of the shower or place a bag around it to reduce splatter, helping that bacteria get rinsed down the drain.

Dirty towels are worse than you realize. Shutterstock.

Reused Towels

While reusing your towel might seem like the practical thing to do, reusing it too much can be harmful for your skin. Even right out of the shower, you are wiping away water and dead skin cells when you dry off. The microorganisms that live on your skin then have something to feed off, making you more susceptible to skin irritation and infections.

Wet towels are also a breeding ground for mildew spores when they aren’t properly dried. ABC 7 Chicago

The obvious remedy for this is regularly washing your towels, but how often? Experts recommend that you don’t reuse towels any more than three times. You should also be towels have dried properly by hanging them up after drying, otherwise they are more susceptible to mold, mildew, and other bacterial growth.

This picture shows the spread of germs around the average bathroom hand dryer. Unisan UK.

Hand Dryers

The hand dryers in bathroom might seem like a convenient, more eco-friendly way to dry your hands than paper towels. Unforuntately, they spread a lot more germs than paper towels do. Instead of just drying your hands, research shows that these air dryers blow bathroom bacteria floating around in the air back onto your hands.

Paper towels are the better, more sanitary way to dry your hands in public restrooms. Better Business Center.

Research conducted at Cambridge University tested the spread of certain bacteria around a hospital following participants using either a hand dryer or paper towels. It was found that hand dryers spread bacteria to your hands, as well as your clothing. Then, it transfers to other surfaces you come into contact with. This means paper towels might be the best way to go after all.

If you don’t close the toilet when you flush, you’re spreading germs all over your bathroom. Today.

Bathroom Surfaces

Do you know that you should keep the toilet lid closed when you flush? Even though the intention of flushing is to make the bacteria from waste disappear, research from as early as 1975 found that flushing creates a “toilet plume”. This plume exits the toilet into the air of the bathroom, contaminating surfaces like your bathroom sink, hygiene products, and even your toothbrush.

Flushing with the lid open creates a toilet plume around your toilet. Envirox.

The original study found flushing was a major source of E. coli bacteria and that it could stay on bathroom surfaces for as long as six hours. Furthermore, an update was published in 2015 in the American Journal of Infection Control. Researchers noted bathroom surfaces were also a source of infectious disease, harboring bacteria like influenza, SARS, and norovirus that pass through the body as waste.

Door handles are one of the most common hot spots for germs, at the office or at home. StepNPull.

Door Handle Germs

In shared spaces like homes, workplaces, and schools, viral illnesses from the flu to the common cold can spread rapidly. There have been several studies that have tested the various germs and bacteria living on a person’s hand, as well as how much of that bacteria is spread to high-contact surfaces like door handles.

Regularly disinfect your hands at work and your doorknob at home to prevent the spread of germs. iHASCO.

Door knobs belong to a group of items called formites, which are inanimate objects that harbor bacteria and spread disease. In one study, researchers infected a door knob in an office with a trace amount of a specific bacteria. Within the next 4 to 6 hours, it had spread all over the office and about half of the staff was infected by it.

Sharing a toothbrush is an easy way to spread germs from bacteria and illness. Medical-News.

Shared Toothbrushes

Data collected from polls show that around 32% of men and 20% of women are likely to share their toothbrushes. Even when shared between people of the same family group or people in intimate relationships, sharing your toothbrush is dangerous. Research shows it’s even more dangerous than sharing food or kissing.

Even toothbrushes touching each other spreads germs. Shutterstock.

The best way to clean toothbrushes is to store them away from bacteria and rinse them thoroughly after using. Then, store them upright in a clean container. If you’re storing family toothbrushes together, be sure they aren’t touching each other and sharing bacteria.

Your dish sponge is covered in hidden mold spores and bacteria. Shutterstock.

Kitchen Sponges

Your kitchen sponge could be a huge source of contamination and disease, especially when you consider how many dirty kitchen surfaces it comes into contact with. Not only does it spend all day sitting in your germy kitchen sink, but it’s covered in the same germs left behind on foods left in the sink.

The best way to sanitize a sponge is to throw it away. Consider a dish rag you can sanitize between uses instead. Shutterstock.

One study even found 54 billion bacteria per cubic centimeter of sponge! Unfortunately, even practices like boiling or microwaving your sponge won’t kill that pesky bacteria. There’s even research that shows it just makes the bacteria stronger and harder to kill. You should either try alternatives to sponges or just replace them once every 1-2 weeks.

Hidden leaks leave you at major risk of mold and mildew growth in the hidden areas of your home. Renovation Find.

Leaky Faucet

A leaky faucet is more than just an annoying dripping sound that slowly runs up your water bill. The most dangerous leaks are ones you can’t see and don’t know need repaired. As they are left unchecked, water continues to seep into the area surrounding the leak. Not only does this result in costly water damage, but it can be hazardous to your health.

Left unchecked, leaky faucets cause expensive water damage like this, too. The Family Handyman.

Excess water from leaks can travel into your walls or floors, creating a dark, wet environment that’s perfect for mold growth. According to the CDC, mold is hazardous to your health and causes symptoms like coughing and wheezing in people who are generally healthy. It can also be dangerous to individuals who are immunocompromised or who have chronic respiratory illness.

Washing machines can actually leave your clothes dirtier than they were to start. Shutterstock.

Washing Machine

If you haven’t cleaned your washing machine lately, there’s a chance that your clothes aren’t really getting clean in the laundry. Washing machines are a breeding ground for bacteria. Their warm, wet environment is perfect for mildew to set in and researchers have even found bacteria from fecal matter in undergarments like E. coli, salmonella, and Hepatitis A.

The average wash cycle isn’t hot enough and doesn’t contain enough bleach to kill germs like E. coli. The Guardian.

It isn’t necessarily practical to add bleach to every load or wash clothes in water above 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celcius), which will kill the bacteria. However, you can clean your washing machine regularly according to the manufacturer’s manual. Be sure to clean areas like the detergent drawer and check to be sure using certain washing machine cleaners won’t void your warranty.

Your coffee pot could have hidden yeast and mold in its reservoir. Reviewed.

Coffee Makers

If you don’t regularly clean out your coffee maker, then there’s a good chance you might be having bacteria with your coffee instead of just cream and sugar. The warm, wet environment inside your coffee maker is the perfect breeding ground for mold. In a recent study, it was found that about half of coffee makers had yeast and mold growing in them.

Cycling vinegar and water through a coffee pot is one of the best ways to disinfect it. HGTV.

Surprisingly, 1 in 10 coffee makers also contained coliform, which is a type of bacteria that usually comes from fecal matter that causes sickness. You should be cleaning out your coffee pot at least every two weeks if you use it every day and try to rinse the water reservoir after every use. Use a 1:1 ratio of white vinegar and water and run it through the cycle, then rinse thoroughly.

Some plastic containers leach BPA into your food when they are heated or used for storage. Times of India.

Plastic Containers

Plastic is popular for everything from single-use drink containers to hard, lightweight dishes and food storage containers. Unfortunately, many plastics contain BPA and it has widely contaminated the U.S. population, with most people having traces of it in urine. Current research shows it affects hormones and may even harm reproductive health.

Plastic labeled #2, #4, and #5 are BPA-free and safe for food storage. Memory Water.

Fortunately, plastic containers are labeled, so it’s pretty easy to know whether they are safe for reuse. Containers labeled with #2, #4, or #5 on the bottom are food safe and able to be reused. By contrast, containers labeled #1 are safe to use once before they break down and containers with #7 should never be used for food storage.

Plastic and some types of silicone cookware break down when heated and release chemicals. Bambu.

Plastic Utensils and Cookware

Scientists have been researching the harmful effects that plastics have on humans and the environment for decades. Like when heating plastic containers, heating plastic cookware also releases BPA, benzene, and other harmful toxins into your food. Some studies even show silicone leaches toxins into food if it’s used before being properly cleaned.

Use alternatives to plastic in the kitchen. Shutterstock.

Exposure to toxins from silicones and plastic pose a real threat, with most humans and more than 180 species of animals testing positive for related toxins. They cause everything from respiratory illnesses to a greater risk of certain cancers. Instead, swap out bakeware for glass or metal (non-coated) options and choose natural utensils made from food-grade metals, wood, or bamboo.

Certain detergent brands contain harsh chemicals, fragrances, and dyes that can irritate skin. Exzma Skincare.

Laundry Detergent

Most people don’t overthink their choice of laundry detergent, going with whatever option smells best or is on sale that week. While this might work fine for some people, certain detergents worsen symptoms of psoriasis and eczema in others. This comes from harsh chemicals, artificial scents, and dyes in certain brands.

Buy all natural or try to DIY your own laundry powder or soap berries. Mommypotamus.

Laundry detergents do a lot more than just clean. Manufacturers add extra ingredients so clothing is brighter and smells better longer. Avoiding brands with allergens, added fragrances, and dyes is a great place to start. You could also consider homemade laundry soap options like soap nuts or try plant-based or hypoallergenic commercial laundry detergents.

The rubber seal around the metal part of your garbage disposal is a breeding ground for germs. Everyday Cheapskate.

Garbage Disposal

Most people are surprised to learn that their kitchen sink has somewhere around 1,000 times the bacteria found on most toilets. With this fact in mind, it’s no surprise that garbage disposals harbor all types of bacteria. It comes into contact with salmonella from raw meats, E. coli from raw spinach, and more.

Build up in a garbage disposal is a breeding ground for bacteria. Shutterstock.

Most garbage disposals have ions on the metal blades that kill bacteria. However, the rubber seal around the blades have deep crevices where water and bacteria get trapped. To clean it, run ice through the drain with a small stream of water. Then, pour baking soda and vinegar to clean and disinfect. Last, use a brush to scrub the crevices around the rubber parts.

Even newer carpets have chemicals that affect people like our babies and pets who spend time on carpet the most. Force of Nature.


Carpets can be toxic and not just because they trap dirt, debris, pet hair, and germs in their fibers. Most carpets are toxic even before you get them home. Older rugs may emit VOCs, endocrine disruptors, and phthalates. Additionally, the Styrene Butadien rubber backing found on 95% of newer rugs emits carcinogens linked to cancer.

Hardwood or tile floors are a good alternative or you could look into all-natural carpeting like Sisal carpets. Stroud Carpets.

While carpeting does have some benefits, tile or wood don’t emit as many VOCs during install. Another alternative is non-toxic carpet brands and materials like wool or seagrass. Finally, if you do opt for carpet, try to choose materials like wool (which improves indoor air quality) and rubber. Installing wall-to-wall so you aren’t exposed to the chemicals in capet adhesives also helps.

Certain plants come with an increased risk of pollen exposure and allergens. Shutterstock.

Indoor Plants

Plants take in carbon dioxide from the air around them and then release it as oxygen, helping lower carbon dioxide levels and improve air quality in your home. Unfortunately, for people with sensitivities to pollen or certain plants, they can also worsen the quality of the air and cause symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, and inflammation.

Over-watering indoor plants can lead to mold growth. Shutterstock.

When it comes to choosing plants for your home, select plants with leaves rather than those with flowers. Flowered plants produce more pollen, which aggravates allergies in people with sensitivities. Monitoring wetness levels of plant soil and avoiding overwatering also helps, since plant soil grows mold if it doesn’t dry out at all between watering cycles.

Bad odors are one telltale sign that bacteria is growing in your fridge. Home Guru.


Even though we store food in the refrigerator to prevent spoilage, that does not mean bacteria and germs can’t grow inside of it. Most of us have seen spoilage in old produce or leftovers- it’s something that happens when you forget something in the back of the fridge. Plus, if you aren’t wiping your shelves often enough or you do things like leave the refrigerator door open too often, it causes bacteria build up.

A cluttered, poorly organized fridge is bacteria’s paradise. The Globe and Mail.

Developing an organization system for your fridge really helps. You should also store food in the best areas of the fridge. For example, the door of the fridge should be used for foods like condiments that can tolerate warmer temperatures while the lower shelves should be reserved for eggs and meats. Clean up spills as they happen to prevent the spread of bacteria and deep clean the fridge by removing everything and sanitizing it at least 3-4 times per year.

Your knife block may be harboring bacteria from wet knives or food debris. Wikihow.

Knife Block

Many of us are guilty of washing our knives and storing them right away. Even when we make an effort to dry them all the way, any leftover water droplets seep into the block. This creates the perfect environment for bacteria. While this bacteria isn’t too dangerous at first, it multiples over time– especially if you aren’t cleaning your knife block regularly.

Thoroughly cleaning and sanitizing your knife block removes hidden bacteria. The Kitchn.

As a general rule, you should do a deep clean of your knife block at least once a month. Take the knives out, flip it over, and shake the block so any loose debris falls out. You can submerge it in hot, soapy water to clean the bacteria or add one tablespoon of bleach to one gallon of water. Use a straw brush or pipe cleaner to wash inside the knife slots and let the block dry completely before reinserting the knives.

Microwave handles are among some of the most germ-infested areas at the office. Shutterstock.

Appliance Door Handles

A 2012 study researched office environments and germs. Surprisingly, one of the worst places for germs was the office microwave. This doesn’t only apply to offices, but also the microwave in your home. Most people in your family probably aren’t concerned with washing their hands before throwing some food in the microwave. Plus, microwave door handles often aren’t given as much attention as the interior of the microwave.

Be sure to regularly sanitize all your appliance handles. NBC News.

While the original study focused on microwave door handles, chances are the handles of your refrigerator and freezer, oven, and other appliances aren’t getting as much attention as they need either. Regularly sanitizing these areas stops the spread of germs, especially when you consider how easily kitchen mistakes like touching a handle when you have raw chicken on your hands can spread the dangerous bacteria salmonella.

Using a hair dryer can damage your hair shafts and cause split ends. In the Know.

Hair Dryer

There are obvious benefits of using a hair dryer like less downtime while you’re waiting for your hair to dry. However, research shows that using a hair dryer damages the hair shaft. This causes dryness, brittleness, and loss of hair color. It can even cause split ends. Using a thermal protectant protects the hair shaft and reduces damage from the heat of the hair dryer.

Even with a thermal spray that protects your hair, a hair dryer can cause a dry, itchy scalp. Crave Beauty Academy.

Even though thermal protectants can do a lot as far as protecting your hair, however, they don’t necessarily protect your scalp. Blow drying is okay for some people occasionally, but doing it too often can cause redness, irritation, dryness, or even dandruff. This is especially true for people with thin hair or sensitive scalps.

Toilet Paper contains problematic chemicals. Shutterstock.

Toilet Paper

Bathrooms are filled with bacteria, from mold and mildew in those high-moisture areas to hidden germs and bacteria. Even though you’d think bacteria would be the concern with toilet paper, it’s actually the dangerous ingredients that manufacturers add to those squares. Toilet paper contains everything from chemicals that cause irritation and burning to BPA found in plastic.

Even recycled brands of toilet paper sometimes contain BPA. Shutterstock.

Some things you might find hidden in your toilet paper include formaldehyde, petroleum-based moisturizers, BPA, and bleach derivatives. BPA is found in many recycled toilet papers, while bleach derivatives are often listed as PCF or ECF on the label. Other dangerous ingredients include formaldehyde which has been linked to vulvar irritation and cancer and moisturizers, fragrances, and dyes that cause irritation.

Gas stoves and appliances give off toxins from burning gas and particulate matter. Quartz.

Gas Stoves

Even when they are properly maintained, natural gas appliances like stoves and furnaces give off dangerous pollutants. The problem isn’t necessary a leak of the gas itself, but rather the pollutants that it gives off. According to research by the Rocky Mountain Institute, using gas stoves to cook bacon or bake a cake causes levels of nitrogen oxide that exceed recommended levels.

Using an exhaust fan or cooking in a well-ventilated area reduces exposure to toxins. Shutterstock.

The obvious solution is to opt for electric stoves, ovens, and other appliances whenever it’s an option. If that isn’t something you can do, then try using your gas stove in a well-ventilated area. Use an exhaust fan or open a window to help eliminate exposure. This also reduces exposure to other byproducts of gas stoves, including carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, nitrogen dioxide, and particulate matter.

Smoking is more dangerous for the people around a smoker than the person smoking. Asthma & Allergy Association.

Secondhand Smoke

It’s surprising that people still smoke, even knowing that smoking comes with several risks from inhaling all the cancer-causing carcinogens. If you are smoking at home, in your vehicle, or around the people you love, however, you are putting them at even greater risk. Research shows that secondhand smoke is far more dangerous than smoking it firsthand, likely because firsthand smoke at least passes through a filter.

Exposing a child to secondhand smoke can even be considered in custody battles. ISRAEL21c.

Secondhand smoke comes with many short-term and long-term risks, especially in children. This includes a higher risk of ear infections, asthma, chronic coughing and lung infections, and respiratory illness like bronchitis. Secondhand smoke is also a major risk factor in infant death from SIDS and it’s so dangerous that courts may even consider a parent’s smoking habits before deciding who to award custody in custody battles.

Your office keyboard probably has more germs than a toilet. MDS Associates.


At first glance, your office might seem tidy, organized, and clean. Unfortunately, germs aren’t always visible to the naked eye and if you don’t disinfect it regularly, then your computer keyboard may be covered in them. We’ve already mentioned how door knobs and microwave handles harbor tons of germs in the office and in most cases, people handle their keyboard right after they walk in the door from lunch.

Regularly cleaning your desk, keyboard, and hands reduces germ exposure. Flex Technology Group.

While your office keyboard likely doesn’t have as many microbes per square inch as the office phone (they have 25,127 and 3,295 microbes per square inch, respectively), it does still carry more germs than the toilet. Wiping down your desk and keyboard every day with a disinefectant can help. You should also keep hand sanitizer nearby for those times you need to clean your hands in between trips to the bathroom.

Garden hoses are made from materials that leach into water, making it unsafe to drink. Laidback Gardener.

Garden Hose

A lot of people share that common childhood memory of drinking cold water straight from the garden hose on a hot summer day. After all, it was a lot more convenient than running inside when you’re busy having fun. The problem is that drinking from the garden hose comes with a risk of exposure to certain chemicals, starting with phthalates and BPA found in the material used to make some hoses.

Letting water run through the hose before drinking reduces some risk. Raising Natural Kids.

There’s also a risk of exposure to metal from the fittings, including lead, bromine, and antimony. Opting for safer materials could prevent exposure to these toxins since manufactures have started manufacturing healthier hoses. You should also store your hose in the shade to prevent breakdown of materials and run the hose for at least 5-10 seconds before you take a drink.

Wireless earbuds fill your ears with sound- and bacteria. DIY Joy.

Earbud Headphones

Many people prefer the smaller profile of earbud headphones to those that go over the ears. Unfortunately, earbuds are a breeding ground for bacteria and they have even been linked to a greater risk of hearing loss. Think of how warm and damp the space in your ear is. Bacteria loves dark, moist areas where it can thrive like the ears, nose, and mouth.

Disinfect ear buds using alcohol and a cloth or cotton swab. The Spruce.

Earbuds (like anything you stick in your ear) introduce bacteria into that warm environment. They also increase the risk of Swimmer’s Ear, particularly in the summer months when even your ears sweat. If you are going to use earbuds, be sure to disinfect them first. Also, clean ears regularly in the shower instead of using cotton swabs, which introduce germs into the self-cleaning ear canal.

Your dishwasher could be full of old bits of food or slimy black mold. NBC News.


Dishwashers are one of those things that make our lives easier. Plus, they have the major benefit of cutting back on water usage when doing dishes. Bacteria also love the dishwasher. There are food scraps that they can feed on, plus plenty of heat and moisture that nurtures bacteria and lets it grows. In addition to your average bacteria, dishwashers are often full of slimy, black mold that is dangerous to your health.

Disinfect with vinegar to stop slimy mold and bad smells. Shutterstock.

Microorganisms in the dishwasher often hide in cracks and crevices, including in the seals around the door. The best way to disinfect your dishwasher is to place 1 cup of white vinegar in a bowl on the bottom shelf. Then, run a dishwasher cycle using hot water to kill bacteria and break down soap scum and left behind food scraps.

Your bed sheets could be full of dead skin cells, oil, sweat, and dust mites. Bed Sheet 360.

Bed Sheets

For a lot of people, their bed is a source of comfort after a long day. If you aren’t washing your sheets as often as necessary, however, it’s also likely that your bed sheets are a petri dish full of dead skin cells, sweat, and bacteria that accumulates on your skin over the course of the day. Dead skin cells also attract critters like microscopic dust mites that trigger allergies and even bed bugs.

Wash sheets weekly and shower before bed to keep them clean. Shutterstock.

The best defense against this is washing your bed sheets at least once a week in hot water, which helps kill germs. Airing your sheets out by pulling the blanket back for a few hours in the morning can also be helpful since it gives any trapped moisture from sweating at night a chance to evaporate. Finally, be sure to shower before bed to reduce the dead skin cells and oil that are coming to bed with you.

Some of your pillow’s weight could be made up of dead skin cells and dust mites. Bright Side.


According to research, if you’re sleeping on a pillow that is just a few years old, then there’s a good chance that around one-third of its total weight comes from dead skin, dust mites, and even bugs living inside. To make matters worse, research also shows that bacteria and germs creep into pillows with micro-tears in them and breed. This is a problem since some dangerous germs can live on cotton for periods up to a week.

Old pillows might have microtears that let bacteria seep in. Mental Floss.

As a general rule, you should be washing your pillow at least once every 3-6 months. Keep it protected with a pillowcase and wash your pillowcase weekly. Additionally, avoid sleeping on your pillow when it isn’t covered in a case. The oils from your hair, sweat, and dead skin cells accumulate in pillows and they aren’t as easy to run through the laundry as your pillowcase.

Reusing kitchen towels spreads bacteria all around the kitchen. Healthline.

33. Kitchen Towels

Having cloth towels in the kitchen might seem like the best way to dry your hands after washing them or wipe away excess food when you’re cooking. Unfortunately, the cloth fibers of your kitchen towel trap germs and bacteria. With all the surfaces they might come into contact with like mold spores from your sponge or foodborne illness bacteria like Salmonella or E. coli, they are also a breeding ground for germs.

Opting for paper towels to clean up germy messes reduces the spread of bacteria. Shutterstock.

Paper towels aren’t as eco-friendly, but they are single-use and that’s really what you want in high-germ environments like the kitchen. After all, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to wash your hands and then dry with a kitchen towel that has been touching other germy surfaces in your kitchen. Alternatively, stop using your kitchen towels for anything but drying your hands, and be sure to switch them out every few days.

Scrolling through social media at night could be damaging your skin. Allure.

Cell Phone

Recent years have brought all the germs on our cell phones into light, especially when you consider how frequently they are handled and how often people bring them into germ-infested areas like work, the bathroom, and the kitchen. The risks of cell phones do not stop there, as recent research shows that the blue light from your phone could also be damaging to your skin.

Blue light from your phone could be aging your skin faster. Wired.

Blue light is a form of highly visible light that’s typically emitted from screens like our laptop, tablet, or phone. In addition to straining your eyes and causing worsening eyesight, research shows blue light also damages the skin over time. Like sun exposure, blue light advances signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles and also causes dark spots and hyperpigmentation.

Sleeping with your pet also means sleeping with any dust or dander they bring to bed. Paw Castle.

Pets in Beds

At one time, researchers discouraged sleeping with pets simply because it could cause bad habits like possessiveness or even aggressiveness in some breeds. While this has been disproven and veterinarians no longer dissuade people from sleeping with pets for this reason, having your pet sleep with you at night can also cause problems for your health.

You can get flea bites like these if your pet brings those pests to bed with you. Healthline.

The big problem isn’t your pet themselves, but rather, their fur and everything in it that they bring into bed with you. Even people who are not allergic to pets may notice allergies because of dirt, dust, or even mites in their pet’s fur. Fleas, ticks, and other pests that much on housepets are also a concern. If you are going to sleep with your pet, make it a habit to brush them before climbing into bed and keep up on their flea and tick treatments.

Your shower curtain doesn’t have to look like this to be harboring bacteria. Abandoned Kansai.

Shower Curtains

A recent study conducted by SafeHome tested various shower curtains and surveyed people about showering habits, and the results may surprise you. The shower curtain is one of the most bacteria-contaminated surfaces in your bathroom, having upwards of 16,000 microbes per square inch. This is far more bacteria than you’d find even on your bathroom toilet.

While most of these bacteria aren’t harmful, shower curtain fibers can trap fecal matter from toilet plumes. Mold and mildew also grow pretty easily on shower curtains, especially if you have a lot of people using the shower and they don’t dry out all the way very often. The best defense is washing your shower curtains at least once a month. For most, just toss them in the laundry to clean.

Air fresheners are full of ingredients that are toxic when inhaled. Hella+ Home.

Air Fresheners

It’s pretty tempting to use air fresheners to give your home that extra boost of freshness between cleans, particularly in areas like the bathroom or kitchen that might have odors. While this sounds like a good idea, it’s actually dangerous in practice. Recent research from the University of Melbourne shows that around one-fourth of the ingredients in most air fresheners are toxic.

Choosing natural air fresheners reduces your exposure to chemicals. Shutterstock.

Air fresheners even contain VOCs that are hazardous. While they may not aggravate the average person with healthy lungs, air fresheners could aggravate symptoms in people with asthma, respiratory illness, bronchitis, or other chronic lung or breathing conditions. For that same smell without as much risk, consider wax melts or all-natural air fresheners that don’t contain hazardous ingredients.

Several canned food brands have unsafe levels of BPA. Healthline.

38. Canned Foods and Soda Can Liners

Canned foods are always good to have on hand in case of emergency. While it’s well known that improperly stored or sealed canned foods can cause botulism, the Center for Environmental Health recently tested a large sample of canned goods and found that around 40% contained BPA. BPA is the same toxin found in a lot of plastics.

Soda can liners contain so much BPA that they cause spikes after drinking a can of soda. 12 Tomatoes.

In addition to certain canned foods containing BPA or PVC plastic, there is BPA in the lining of aluminum soda cans. One study linked BPA in soda can liners to heightened blood pressure levels. Participants who drank soda out of a can had BPA levels measured in their urine before and after drinking. A single can increased BPA levels by 1600%.

You can’t always see the bacteria in your swimming pool. Shutterstock.

Swimming Pools

While most people use chlorine or other chemicals to keep germs at bay in their swimming pools, it’s still possible to be exposed to recreational water illnesses. These are usually caused by water droplets or aerosol caused by water splashing around being inhaled or swallowed by another person. This includes illnesses with diarrhea, swimmer’s ear, respiratory infections, and certain skin infections.

A dirty pool doesn’t always look like this. Shutterstock.

Regularly checking the chlorine and pH levels of your pool will create an environment that kills bacteria. While this is a good line of defense, you should also encourage people not to swim in your pool or hot tub if they are sick. Any type of illness can be spread, but those with diarrhea symptoms like E. coli are hard to kill in the pool.

Air conditioners take humidity out of the air, as well as your skin and mucous membranes. OSF Healthcare.

Air Conditioning

Air conditioners have their purpose, particularly if you live somewhere hot where it gets 90-100 degrees or hotter in the summer. They work by pulling the humidity out of the room, cooling it, then releasing cold air back out of the air conditioner. Unfortunately, it also dries the air out in the room which can make dry eyes, dry skin, and dehydration worse.

Keeping your AC and filter clean also helps prevent issues from using the AC. Shutterstock.

Air conditioners also irritate the mucus membranes and can make allergies, respiratory illnesses, and asthma worse. Additionally, if they are not well maintained, then air conditioners can blow dust, debris, and mold spores into the air of your home. Cleaning your air conditioner regularly and only using it when necessary reduces some of these risks.

Burning candle wicks releases small amounts of VOCs and particular matter into the air. Reddit.


As a general rule, any time that you burn something, there’s a risk of particulate matter being released into the air. While a lot of the myths about why candles are dangerous have been debunked, burning the wick does usually release particulate matter and VOCs. There can also be byproducts from burning the types of wax used to make a candle, though there are also a lot of eco-friendly options out there.

Certain types of candles can also irritate allergies or asthma in some people. Shutterstock.

While there is some risk, burning candles doesn’t produce a lot of VOCs or particulate matter as soon as it is burned. A better alternative might be limiting how long you burn candles to an hour or two and avoiding them if you have allergies or asthma that might be aggravated by the smell. Also, be wary of burning any old candles that you have lying around. The CSPC did not ban lead-core wicks until 2003.

Couches are problematic if you live a sedentary lifestyle, but they are also toxic. Shutterstock.


The dangers of your living room couch go beyond living a sedentary lifestyle. To begin with, most couches are sprayed with flame-retardant chemicals and made from chemical-laden fabrics. Polyurethane foam used in some fillings can release toxins over time while adhesives used to bind wood together contain formaldehyde. Plus, if you spend a lot of time on your couch, sweat, dead skin cells, and dust all build up on the fabric over time.

Opting for non-toxic materials and getting off the couch reduces exposure. Ecobalanza.

Cleaning your couch regularly by washing or vacuuming the cushions will get rid of that build up. You should also avoid sitting on ripped upholstery that exposes you to polyurethane and formaldehyde or use a couch cover to keep your furniture in good shape. Finally, eliminating toxic chemicals by buying food made from natural materials like wool, feathers, leather, or wood also reduces exposure.

Your favorite decanter could be leaching lead into your drink. Advanced Mixology.


Crystal decanters have a beautiful appearance and it’s no surprise that people love using them for storing liquor or decorating their home. Unfortunately, many of these decanters reflect light so well because they are made from lead crystal, a material that contains about 24% lead oxide when it’s produced according to the restrictions in place by the European Union, which are also followed in the United States.

Some lead crystal decanters contain up to 24% lead oxide. Martha Stewart.

In recent years, the FDA issued a warning on lead crystal after a study found that after four months in a lead decanter, a sample of wine far exceeded the standards set for lead. Additionally, while lead does have a half-life around 36 days, consuming it too often at high levels causes weakness, anemia, and even kidney and brain damage. It’s also very dangerous for pregnant women and their unborn children.

Many Americans don’t have access to clean water like they believe. Men’s Health.

Tap Water

According to a report issued in 2017, approximately 77 million Americans lived in an area where the entity in charge of their water supply violated at least one safety regulation. They came to this conclusion after investigating different facilities and water supply systems, finding the most violations in New Jersey, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Florida.

Old pipes can have lead in them that leach into drinking water. Shutterstock.

For people who drink tap water, testing your water supply for contaminants can give you peace of mind about what you are putting into your body. Additionally, while buying bottled water isn’t the most eco-friendly choice, there are other alternatives. Using a water filtration system, whether it’s a pitcher in your fridge or a filter that attaches to your tap, cleans your water before you drink it.

Hot tubs spread bacteria when they aren’t properly cleaned. Shutterstock.

Hot Tubs

Hot tubs are great for relaxing your muscles and can be even used for pain relief. Unfortunately, when hot tubs are not properly cleaned or maintained, they can harbor bacteria and make you sick. Hot tubs can also aggravate skin conditions for some people, especially if they stay in the hot tub for long periods of time. Surprisingly, this dries the skin out and causes itchiness.

An improperly cleaned hot tub can result in a rash like this. VeryWell.

The best indicator that a hot tub is properly cleaned is the water. It should be clear in color and free of debris and should not have an odor. The tub itself should also appear clean and feel smooth. Additionally, it also shouldn’t have a strong chlorine smell since adding too much chlorine at once indicates imbalanced levels or the presence of bacteria that needs high levels of chlorine.

Irritation from razor burn can lead to more problems like ingrown hairs and infection. Shutterstock.

Razor Burn

Razor burn is characterized by a red rash that appears when you’re done shaving. It can be caused by an old razor, cool temperatures, not enough lubricant, a clogged razor, irritation of the skin or hair follicles, or any other number of problems. Razor burn may be painful, but it can also lead to infection if you have razor bumps that result. These are often ingrown hairs that could become infected with time or cause scarring.

Aloe vera is a great home remedy for razor burn. Shutterstock.

The best way to prevent razor burn is to use good shaving practices, like using a sharp razor, exfoliating beforehand, and avoiding pulling the skin. You can treat razor burn using products like aloe vera gel to reduce redness and burning. Some other home remedies include apple cider vinegar, witch hazel, or a dilution of tea tree oil in water. Using a moisturizer on skin that isn’t broken can also help with itchiness after shaving.

Energy-saving light bulbs save on your light bill but could be damaging your skin. Shutterstock.

Light Bulbs

Did you know that your choice in light bulb could be damaging your skin? Certain types of energy-saving bulbs called CFL (compact fluorescent lights) slowly leak UV radiation over time. While this radiation isn’t a large, measurable amount, it is enough that it could damage your skin the same way as UV rays from the sun.

Light bulbs give off UV radiation that advances signs of aging. Shutterstock.

This means that spending a long time under energy-saving lightbulbs could have similar effects in the way it advances the aging process and the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots. Applying a moisturizer with SPF protection in the morning could reduce the effects of any types of UV rays, including light bulbs.

The ingredients list of your favorite pantry foods could be scary. Eat This.

Dangerous Pantry Items

You’d be surprised how many dangerous items are in your pantry. Easy breakfasts like cereal are full of processed ingredients and sugars, while comfort foods like soup have unprecedented levels of sodium. Another common pantry item is soybean oil, which is highly processed and much more dangerous than other oils. Artificially flavored pancake syrup is also full of high fructose corn syrup and caramel color, two additives that have been linked to health issues.

High levels of sodium and processed sugar are just a few dangerous ingredients. Shutterstock.

The snacks in your pantry are also dangerous. While most of us know that snacking isn’t healthy, there really isn’t anything wrong with eating foods you love in moderation. The problem is that when snacks are easily accessible and you sit down with chips, cookies, or ice cream in front of the TV, you’re likely to eat more. The condiments and dressings you add to otherwise healthy foods could also be adding calories.

Some dog toys contain BPA and other toxins. Michelson Found Animals Foundation.

Dog Toys

Many dog breeds are energetic, particularly when they are young. One of the best ways to ensure your dog lives a long and healthy life is making time to play with them. While it might seem like your pup is ready and willing to play with anything, however, it’s important that you be sure you are choosing toys that are healthy for them to play with, too.

Even the wrong bone can be a choking hazard for your pup. Dog’s Time.

Some things that you should avoid are laser pointers, kid (or adult) toys or stuffed animals that have been repurposed, plastic dog bones, and other dangerous toys that have pieces that might break off. Laser pointers teach your dog to chase light, while other toys are choking hazards. You should also avoid cheaper toys made from plastic that might contain BPA or other toxins.

Teflon flakes off and produces toxic fumes when heated to high temperatures. Shutterstock.

Teflon Cookware

Nonstick cookware is fairly popular, especially for cooking foods like eggs or cheese that seem to stick to almost everything. Unfortunately, Teflon manufacturers are also in hot water in recent years because of the contents of their non-stick coating. Even if it isn’t breaking away in flakes, the real danger comes from heating Teflon to high temperatures, which causes it to release fumes.

Teflon fumes cause flu like symptoms in people and can be deadly to pet birds. Eat This.

Teflon fumes are dangerous to everyone in the immediate area. They can cause Teflon flu in people, as well as symptoms like headache, fever, diarrhea, and more. Teflon fumes are also toxic to small animals, especially pet birds. It’s best to opt for a safer nonstick alternative like copper or ceramic, or at the very least avoid heating your nonstick pans to high temps.