UHC Advice: 6 Daily Habits That May Make You Sick

1. Using a Sponge

Most people clean their countertops and table after a meal with the one tool found in almost all kitchens: the sponge. In addition to sopping up liquids and other messes, the kitchen sponge commonly carries E. coli and fecal bacteria, as well as many other microbes. It’s the single dirtiest thing in your kitchen, along with a dishrag.

Solution: Try dipping sponges into a solution of bleach and water before wiping down surfaces. “That is the best and cheapest germicide money can buy — less than a penny to make the solution — so that you can clean your countertops, cutting boards, dishrags, or sponges after each meal preparation.  Let it air dry after use.

2. Vacuuming

Conventional vacuum cleaners are intended to pick up and retain big pieces of dirt, like the dust bunnies we see floating about on our floors. But it’s the tiny dust particles that pass right through the porous vacuum bags and up into the air. So, while our floors may look cleaner after running a vacuum over them, plenty of dust, which can exacerbate allergies, remains

Solution: Look for a vacuum cleaner with a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. Unlike those in conventional vacuums, HEPA filters are able to retain the small particles and prevent them from passing through and contaminating the air you breathe in your home.

3. Sleeping With Pillows and a Mattress

The average person sheds about 1.5 million skin cells per hour and perspires one quart every day even while doing nothing. The skin cells accumulate in our pillows and mattresses and dust mites grow and settle.

A mattress doubles in weight every 10 years because of the accumulation of human hair, bodily secretions, animal hair and dander, fungal mold and spores, bacteria, etc.  After five years, 10% of the weight of a pillow is dust mites. This is what you’re inhaling while you sleep.

Solution: Cover your mattress, box springs, and pillows with impervious outer covers. Allergy-proof coverings seal the mattress and pillow, preventing anything from getting in or out, which protects you.  Wash your sheets weekly in hot water. Make sure the temperature range of the water is between 130 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit.

4. Opening Your Windows

When the weather turns nice, many of us throw open our windows to breath in the fresh spring air. But that may be an unhealthy move, considering the combination of seasonal allergies and poor air quality of many cities throughout the U.S.

Solution: Shut the windows and run the air conditioner. All air-conditioning systems have a filter that protects the mechanical equipment and keeps them clean of debris. Pollen and mold spores that have made their way indoors will be run through the air-conditioning system and taken out of the air as they go through the duct work.

6. Sitting in Front of the TV

Sitting in front of the television has become a national pastime and one of our least healthy behaviors, particularly because we often do it while snacking on food that is high in calories. Excess body weight puts us at greater risk for heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and a host of other diseases.

Solution: Turn off the TV, put away the bag of chips, and go for a walk.

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