Can Your Home Make You Sick? 10 Common Culprits | B+M (2023)

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The words “sick” and “home” shouldn’t have to be spoken in the same breath! Your home is your safe haven, after all. The thought that your beloved bedroom is giving you the sniffles or a sore throat may seem treacherous, especially given the fact that you put so much trust into your abode. Can a dirty house make you sick?

While most people are likely to associate door handles and public restrooms with germs and bacteria, many are liable to overlook other diseases caused by unclean surroundings, particularly those that comes from the potential their homes have for causing sicknesses. Remember that clean spaces and a positive mindset are interconnected, too.

Fortunately, all it may take is a few soapy suds and spritz of your favorite disinfectant to restore the harmony and healthiness in your home.

If you’re wondering, “Can a dirty house make you sick,” you may find yourself surprised to know homes are notorious for housing hidden germs and troubled areas that may put your health at risk in more ways than one.

Common Culprits to Be on the Lookout for

There’s nothing quite like coming home after a long day at work and falling into the comforts of your bed. Or maybe, you prefer the comfort of preparing a delicious meal in your kitchen.

Whether you feel at home in your kitchen, your master bedroom or any other room in your house, make sure that your rooms are clean to ensure you can properly unwind while reducing your risk for adverse health effects, too.

If you feel sick after cleaning the house or something else seems off in your home, it may be more than just a hunch. From mold to dander, unwanted dirtiness in your house can create a myriad of potentially hazardous effects. Be where do these dangers lurk? Below, we’ll outline five common culprits of dirtiness in your home that may make a difference in your family’s health.

Your Furry Friends


Pets are a part of the family — whether they purr, bark or squeak. But while your animal friends may bring you a sense of companionship and emotional comfort, they may also be causing a flare-up in your allergies or lung irritation, too.

Animal fur contains danger which can stimulate a reaction in people with allergies to these tiny skill cells. These allergens have the potential to build up and create a myriad of side effects, including skin rashes, sneezing, and eye irritation. To better control pet danger, be sure to make your vacuum your new best friend. Regularly clean your upholstery while making a point to keep your pets off of your furniture, too.

Messy Carpets


You’ll be the first to admit that you drop things on your carpet only to pick them up weeks later. You may even go a few months before you decide to pick up your vacuum. But while you may not see much use in keeping your carpets clean, there’s plenty of reasons why you should.

Carpets are susceptible to collecting high levels of dust, danger, chemicals and soil — especially since they receive constant contact with our feet and shoes throughout the day. Each year, this equates to several pounds of dirt, which leaves you with the question — “Can a dirty house really make you sick?”

Because dangerous germs may try to ingrain themselves within your carpet, be sure to keep these surfaces clean through regular vacuuming and shampooing. Not only will doing these simple actions elongate the life of your carpet, but they’ll also minimize your chances of contracting an unwanted illness, too.

Cleaning Products


Yep, you read that right. While you’d expect your cleaning products to reduce your risk of getting sick, they also have the potential to stimulate a myriad of different health problems, too.

The fragrance in traditional cleaners coupled with potentially toxic chemicals can increase your chances of contracting an unwanted illness. From cancer-causing carcinogens to irritating chemicals, your household cleaning products may be doing more than just disinfecting.

Consider swapping out your chemical-laden cleaning products for more natural and safer alternatives instead. A bucket of lemon juice rather than a bowl full of bleach may make a world of difference in your home.

Hidden Mold


Not only is mold bad to look at, but it also can produce many health-related issues for you and your family members in your home, too. When these hazardous spores enter your body through inhalation or skin contact, your eyes, nose and lungs begin to take a toll.

You probably don’t even want to know what health problems are caused by mold. The list is actually pretty scary! Just another testament to the harmful effects of unclean surroundings. But you’ll never have to know as long as you take care of your home.

Be sure to check familiar places in your home for mold, including under your kitchen sink, in your heating vents and anywhere where humidity can get trapped and foster the ideal conditions for mold to grow. Scrub any areas where mold becomes evident while also promoting open ventilation in your home, too.

Unchanged Sheets or a Dirty Mattress


You may think that there’s nothing wrong with a messy bed. If you don’t often have company over and you’re the only one who has to look at your bed, what’s the point in making sure that it’s tidy and clean?

But when you also consider the fact that you spend nearly one-third of your life sleeping and on the same one surface, you may begin to change your mind. Dust mites and other microscopic organisms living on the surface of your bed can threaten your immune system while also provoking skin irritation and allergy-like symptoms. Wash your sheets at least once per week while cleaning your mattress regularly, too.

Old, Moldy Pillows


Like your mattress, the pillow you rest your weary head upon can trap dust, mites and other allergens. These can clog sinuses, making getting a full nights’ sleep difficult.

Oils from your skin remain trapped in pillow fibers, and repeated exposure can clog pores and cause acne. Pillows can also harbor bacteria, causing repeated infections. Hair can leave an oily residue on pillows, and failing to wash the cases on a weekly basis may result in dry, flyaway hair and dandruff.

Your Scented Candle Addiction


Candles add an elegant touch to any decor, turn everyday meals into celebrations and set the mood for romantic interludes. However, some candles — especially scented ones — contain toxic chemicals that release into the air every time you light the wick.

According to a study by South Carolina State University, many candles contain benzene and toluene, both of which possess carcinogenic qualities. Additionally, ash from burning candles adds to the particulate level of indoor air, which many researchers consider a likely cause of frequent upper respiratory infections. If you must burn real candles and not use the artificial variety, open windows whenever the weather permits to improve indoor air quality and reduce the risk of asthma and other respiratory ailments.

Dirty, Dirty Ducts


Most people know to change the filters in their air conditioning and heating vents regularly, but even the best anti-allergenic filters still allow some particulate matter to flow into your homes’ ducts. Many experts recommend having your ducts commercially cleaned every three to five years, but feel free to do so more often if you live in an area of high pollution, have smokers in the home or suffer from respiratory ailments such as asthma.

Filthy Food Leftovers


Although your refrigerator keeps food cool, reduced temperatures fail to kill all microbes. After all, researchers recently discovered bacteria thriving half a mile beneath the surface of a lake in Antarctica. Strive to give your fridge a basic cleanout and wipe down every week to prevent the spread of harmful germs and protect fresh food from contamination.

Speaking of contamination, anyone who has ever watched an episode of “Bar Rescue” knows food handling requires special care. Defrost meats on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator to avoid bacteria from contaminating fruits and vegetables. Store eggs toward the back of the fridge, where temps run cooler, instead of in the door to keep them fresher longer. At least once per year, pull all food out of the icebox and give it a thorough cleaning.

Clutter, Clutter Everywhere


Falls make up the majority of unexpected deaths in the home, as well as cause significant injuries. Additionally, many practitioners of Feng Shui believe leaving objects scattered hither and yon interrupts the flow of chi, or vital life energy, leading to unnecessary household strife.

Whether or not you embrace ancient decorating ideals, too much clutter damages both physical and psychological health. Stacks of old newspapers and bills provide the perfect breeding grounds for disease-bearing household pests like cockroaches and even mice, which may carry Hantavirus. Coming home each day to a cluttered home can overwhelm even the most mentally healthy among us, as messes grown out of control make many throw up their hands. If stacks and stacks of possessions prove difficult or even impossible to deal with, consider hiring a professional organizing service to help return your home to order.

So, Can a Dirty House Make You Sick?

Can a dirty house make you sick? The answer to this question seems to be as simple as this — only if you let it.

If being in your house has also become synonymous with wheezing, nasal congestion and a sore throat, it’s time to whip out the mop and disinfectant and give your home a good cleaning. Once you remove the bacteria and dirt commonly found in your abode, you can comfortably begin to enjoy the happiness and healthiness promoted by your home fully.


Is it possible my house is making me sick? ›

Is your house making you sick? Don't be surprised if the answer is yes. Toxins, pesticides, gases, mites, and molds are everywhere, and the more you're exposed to them, the greater your risk for developing the health problems they can cause.

Can a toxic home make you sick? ›

What causes Toxic Home Syndrome? A damp house is a breeding ground for bacteria and harmful organic matter, which can wreak havoc with your respiratory system and is simply a haven for infections and illness.

Can your living environment make you sick? ›

An environmental illness can occur when you are exposed to toxins or substances in the environment that make you sick. These health hazards may be found where you live, work, or play. Maybe you have headaches that only occur on weekends.

What is the toxic house syndrome? ›

Toxic house syndrome is described as a condition where a physical building (such as your residential home), has such poor air quality within, that it can effectively make people in the household unwell or have sickness symptoms.

What are the symptoms of sick house syndrome? ›

The most frequent constellation of building-associated complaints is called sick building syndrome. It consists of mucous membrane irritation of eyes, nose, and throat; headache; unusual tiredness or fatigue; and, less frequently, dry or itchy skin.

How do you test for sick house syndrome? ›

There is no specific medical test to diagnose sick building syndrome. Physicians usually treat the symptoms individually, but the real identification of a "sick building" is subjective.

How do you check for toxicity in a house? ›

There are VOC inspections that can be performed by a professional in your home. They're not as common as mold or radon inspectors, but there are professionals out there. They might be called a home inspector, industrial hygienist, or some other term. A VOC home test can measure for hundreds of chemicals in the air.

Does a toxic family can make you physically sick? ›

Sometimes physical symptoms can be a sign our emotional environment is toxic. People in unhealthy relationships may experience pains, anxiety, and memory and speech problems.

What toxins are in my home? ›

The Most Common Toxins Found in Homes Today
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) ...
  • Pesticides. ...
  • Mold and Other Fungal Toxins. ...
  • Phthalates and PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) ...
  • Dioxins. ...
  • Heavy Metals. ...
  • Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs) ...
  • Chloroform.

What to do when you are sick at home? ›

Indulge in some sick day self-care
  1. Take a bath or shower. The warm water will relax you, and the steam can soothe raw or congested nasal passages. ...
  2. Catch up on your favorite shows, or put on your favorite movie. Or try a podcast instead so you can listen with your eyes closed.
  3. Sleep.

What diseases can you get from environmental issues? ›

Environmental pollutants can cause health problems like respiratory diseases, heart disease, and some types of cancer. People with low incomes are more likely to live in polluted areas and have unsafe drinking water. And children and pregnant women are at higher risk of health problems related to pollution.

What are 3 environmental factors that cause ill health? ›

Environmental factors (e.g. overcrowding, diet, climate, stress) and exposures (e.g. from air, food, drink, surfaces) play a part in causing and/or aggravating disease and ill health, both directly and via parents.

What are the side effects of living in a toxic household? ›

Other long-term effects of family toxicity can include:
  • feelings of isolation or loneliness.
  • low sense of self-worth or self-esteem.
  • patterns of troubled or dysfunctional relationships.
  • chronic feelings of guilt, shame, or worthlessness.
  • attachment issues.
  • posttraumatic stress.
  • parenting issues.
Oct 25, 2019

How do you know if your home environment is toxic? ›

Signs of a toxic household environment can include fear, guilt, and helplessness. Other signs, such as verbal or physical abuse, manipulative behavior, and extreme criticism, are also common in toxic households.

What are the symptoms of bad air quality in the home? ›

Occupants of homes with poor indoor air quality may complain of symptoms such as headache, eye irritation, fatigue, dry throat, sinus congestion, dizziness, and nausea. Because many illnesses can cause these symptoms, diagnosing sick building syndrome is difficult.

What are the symptoms of stagnation of air? ›

dizziness, headache, difficulty breathing, coughing, potentially more phlegm, and even nausea in some people.

What is the most common symptom of sick building syndrome? ›

About Sick Building Syndrome

The most common problems blamed on the office environment include headaches, eye, nose or throat irritation, cough, dizziness, difficulty concentrating and fatigue.

Why am I getting sick all the time? ›

A lack of sleep, poor diet, anxiety, or stress can often cause a person to feel sick. These factors can make a person more susceptible to infection and illness. However, always feeling sick can also signify pregnancy or chronic illness. When sick, a person may experience stomach discomfort and vomiting.

Can you sue for sick building syndrome? ›

Workers Compensation Claim

If the effects of the elements in your workplace are so bad that they keep you out of work, you may be able to file in for permanent or temporary disability.

What mold causes sick building syndrome? ›

Stachybotrys chartarum (Stachybotrys atra), the main fungus associated with stachybotryotoxicosis and sick building syndrome, is a black mold.

What are some indoor air pollutants? ›

Indoor Pollutants and Sources
  • Asbestos.
  • Biological Pollutants.
  • Carbon Monoxide (CO)
  • Cookstoves.
  • Formaldehyde/Pressed Wood Products.
  • Lead (Pb)
  • Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)
  • Pesticides.
Feb 27, 2023

Is the air in my home toxic? ›

Don't think you're safe just because you're inside. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that the air in homes and other buildings can be more seriously polluted than the outdoor air. Indoor air pollution can cause big health problems.

How do you get rid of toxic air in your house? ›

2. Eliminate and Ventilate
  1. Use green cleaning products or make your own!
  2. Avoid candles. ...
  3. Avoid wood-burning fireplaces and stoves.
  4. Open up! ...
  5. Use exhaust fans or open a window to control humidity while bathing.
  6. Use your exhaust fan while cooking.
  7. Arm your home with indoor house plants. ...
  8. Purchase a high-quality air purifier.
Mar 27, 2018

What are the symptoms of toxin exposure? ›

It may cause headache, sweating, blurred vision, stomach aches and diarrhea. It is common for even mild symptoms from a harmful chemical to make people feel anxious. Once exposure is stopped, mild symptoms usually go away quickly.

What can toxic parents cause? ›

Effects of Toxic Parents
  • Mental health disorders in childhood, such depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) ...
  • Mental health issues in adolescence. ...
  • Depression and anxiety in adulthood. ...
  • Difficulty managing emotions like anger. ...
  • Suicide attempts. ...
  • Drug and alcohol use. ...
  • Physical health problems. ...
  • Low self-esteem.
Dec 14, 2021

Can a toxic household cause PTSD? ›

Toxic family dynamics can create complex forms of PTSD that warrant family trauma therapy. In many cases family members will resort to making a scapegoat of another family member to avoid dealing with their own trauma and emotional turmoil.

How do you heal yourself from toxic family members? ›

Other Useful Tactics
  1. Don't expect anyone to be perfect, including yourself.
  2. Stop trying to fight old battles. ...
  3. Stand your ground. ...
  4. Let go of your wishes for family members' lives. ...
  5. Once you resolve to change your own behavior, brace for strong reactions from family members and even friends.
Apr 9, 2021

Is it bad to lay in bed all day when sick? ›

If you find yourself sleeping all day when you're sick — especially during the first few days of your illness — don't worry. As long as you wake up to drink water and eat some nourishing food from time to time, let your body get all the rest it needs.

What's the best thing to eat when sick? ›

Although not super exciting, very plain and bland foods can help ease symptoms. Try pasta, dry cereals, oatmeal, bread and crackers. But bland doesn't mean you can't add protein or veggies into the mix if you're feeling up for it! Try eating rice and baked chicken breast or cheese and crackers.

What not to do while sick? ›

In this Article
  • Pretend You're Not Sick.
  • Sleep Too Little.
  • Get Stressed Out.
  • Drink Too Little.
  • Drink Alcohol.
  • Overuse Decongestant Sprays.
  • Smoke.

What are 5 environmental factors that cause ill health? ›

A number of specific environmental issues can impede human health and wellness. These issues include chemical pollution, air pollution, climate change, disease-causing microbes, lack of access to health care, poor infrastructure, and poor water quality.

What are the 10 environmental factors? ›

10: Environmental Factors
  • Osmolarity.
  • pH.
  • Temperature.
  • Oxygen Concentration.
  • Pressure.
  • Radiation. Key Words. Essential Questions/Objectives. Exploratory Questions (OPTIONAL)
Jan 3, 2021

What are the 3 main factors that affect your health? ›

The determinants of health include:
  • the social and economic environment,
  • the physical environment, and.
  • the person's individual characteristics and behaviours.
Feb 3, 2017

What are 10 factors that affect health? ›

  • Ten Factors that. Affect. Your Health Status.
  • Heredity.
  • Quality of the Environment.
  • Random Events.
  • Health Care.
  • Behaviors You Choose.
  • Quality of your Relationships.
  • Decisions You Make.

What is the biggest environmental threat to health? ›

Air pollution is now considered to be the world's largest environmental health threat, accounting for 7 million deaths around the world every year.

What human activity causes the most harm to the environment? ›

Greenhouse Gases

These greenhouse gas emissions have increased the greenhouse effect and caused the earth's surface temperature to rise. Burning fossil fuels changes the climate more than any other human activity.

Is the air quality in my house making me sick? ›

Bad air can trigger coughing, chest tightness, sore throat, watery or itchy eyes, shortness of breath, and even a full-blown asthma attack. “If you live in a home with chronically poor air quality, you can experience frequent headaches, long lasting colds, and bronchitis as well as chronic asthma,” says E.

Can you get sick from bad air quality? ›

Exposure to air pollution can affect everyone's health. When we breathe in air pollutants, they can enter our bloodstream and contribute to coughing or itchy eyes and cause or worsen many breathing and lung diseases, leading to hospitalizations, cancer, or even premature death.

Why am I getting sick in my new house? ›

When you relocate, your surroundings change—that's unavoidable. You'll face exposure to new places, people and microbes; this is often a huge reason for getting sick after moving into a new house. New air, new dust, new everything. Your body will take time to adjust to the changed environment.

Why does my house make me congested? ›

The most common indoor allergens include dust, cockroaches, mold, and cats and dogs. These allergens often lead to postnasal drip, runny nose, nasal congestion, headache, sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, itchy skin, fatigue, and for some people, even difficulty breathing as well as wheezing.

Why everytime I clean my house I get sick? ›

Bleach, ammonia or quaternary ammonium compounds (a type of disinfectant), phthalates, and many volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in typical cleaning products have all been linked to respiratory illnesses, including asthma, according to Allen Rathey, principal of The Healthy Facilities Institute.

Why do I feel sick after coming home? ›

You are out of your regular environment and you come in contact with different bacteria and viruses from those you are exposed to back home. You touch many surfaces covered in bacteria and viruses, come in contact with hundreds of people, try new things, get stressed more which ultimately takes a toll on your body.

How can I prevent sickness in my house? ›

Ideally, the person who's sick should stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom, when possible. You should also avoid sharing everyday items, including towels, bedding and dishes. Lastly (and this is important), the person who is sick should not be the one cooking meals for the rest of the healthy household.

How do you get rid of sickness at home? ›

Ensure that both the kitchen and washroom have maximum distance from each other to keep negative energy away. Keep the head towards South or East because these directions are considered auspicious. The elderly or main owner of the house must occupy the SouthWest zone of the house for good health.

Do air purifiers help with stuffy rooms? ›

Air purifiers can help to relieve nasal congestion by removing dust, pollen, and other allergens from the air. This can help to clear out the nasal passages and improve breathing. The best option for congestion relief depends on your specific needs and preferences.

Does mold in your house make you congested? ›

Mold allergy can cause an allergic reaction right away. But in some cases, it may cause delayed symptoms. This can cause a stuffy nose or asthma symptoms that get worse over time. If your symptoms often get worse in a damp, humid, or moldy room like a basement, this may mean you have a mold allergy.

How do you know if you have dust mite allergies? ›

Overview. Dust mite allergy is an allergic reaction to tiny bugs that commonly live in house dust. Signs of dust mite allergy include those common to hay fever, such as sneezing and runny nose. Many people with dust mite allergy also experience signs of asthma, such as wheezing and difficulty breathing.

How often should you clean your house? ›

Spills and trash get taken care of on an as-needed basis every day or two. Vacuuming and mopping should happen at least once a week. Clean carpets every three to six months. Living rooms and bedrooms should be attacked at least once a week.

Can a dirty house cause sinus infection? ›

Long-term exposure to dust allergens can cause sinus infections and asthma. Those prone to repeated sinus infections should consider the possibility of a dust allergy.

What will happen if you don't clean your home? ›

If you don't dust or vacuum, your home will turn into an allergy festival. Pollen will gather in all the nooks in your home, pet hair will lie in wait, and dust mites will come out in force. All the things that make your eyes water and your nose run will be sitting around your home making your allergies worse.

Why do I feel sick all the time? ›

A lack of sleep, poor diet, anxiety, or stress can often cause a person to feel sick. These factors can make a person more susceptible to infection and illness. However, always feeling sick can also signify pregnancy or chronic illness. When sick, a person may experience stomach discomfort and vomiting.

Why do I keep getting sick? ›

There are different reasons why you might be always sick. It could be related to a vitamin deficiency, dehydration, problems with your immune system, or inadequate hygiene, among other possibilities. There isn't anyone who hasn't gotten a cold or virus just days before a big event.


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