Can Living in a Messy Environment Actually Make You Sick?

Can Living in a Messy Environment Actually Make You Sick?

The pandemic has brought new concerns on how to stay healthy. Hand sanitizer, medical masks, and disinfectant wipes sales have skyrocketed. But this leaves us wondering – how can we actually improve our chances of staying healthy? 

One thing that you can do to help keep your immune system functioning properly is to make sure that you are living in a clean environment. Living in a messy home can cause a variety of health issues, so here are some things you might want to clean in your home to keep you healthy. 

Cleaning vs. disinfecting vs. sanitizing

cleaning wipes in container popping up from top
Cleaning removes dirt, while disinfecting actually kills germs and bacteria.

The first thing to keep in mind when cleaning your house to protect against sickness is the difference between cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing.  

Cleaning physically removes dirt, grime, and germs from surfaces or objects by using water and soap or detergent, but doesn’t necessarily kill things like bacteria or viruses that may be living on a surface.  

Disinfecting, however, actually kills the germs on surfaces or objects by using certain cleaning chemicals intended to kill bacteria and viruses.  

Sanitizing is the process of both cleaning and disinfecting a surface or object. When something is sanitized, you’ve lowered the amount of virus or bacteria present by physically removing germs and then killing anything that’s left. 

For the best results, try cleaning surfaces first and then disinfecting them. Some areas to focus on are:  

  • Door handles and knobs 
  • Tabletops 
  • Light switches 
  • Bathroom and kitchen counters and surfaces 
  • Faucets and sinks 
  • Toilets 
  • Mobile phones and devices



vacuum cleaner on wooden floor
A buildup of dust can cause a variety of health issues, so it is important to vacuum often.

The next step to take to ensure your home is keeping you safe and healthy is to eliminate dust. Some prominent places that dust tends to accumulate is in heating and cooling ducts, carpets, and ceiling fans.  

Studies have shown that the chemicals in dust can actually get into the body through breathing, swallowing, and even through the skin. If you randomly start to feel sick or get allergies, dust might be to blame.  

The best way to get rid of dust is to vacuum regularly and possibly purchase a good air purifier.


black and white brick wall
Mold can lurk in hidden areas in your home and cause nausea, congestion, and headaches.

Another hidden source of sickness in your home could be mold. Mold is often attracted to damp enclosed areas such as a showerhead or basement. Mold can cause a variety of health issues such as nausea, congestion, and headaches.  

To protect yourself against the dangers of mold, try using a detergent and water to scrub the mold off of any hard surfaces, and increase ventilation in the area as much as possible.

Bed sheets

white bed sheets
Bedsheets can serve as a breeding ground for bacteria if not washed properly.

While we usually think of our bed as a safe space to relax, it can actually serve as a breeding ground for all types of bacteria. The average person sheds about half an ounce of dead skin every week, which stays in your sheets and becomes prime feeding material for dust mites. This can lead to allergies and skin infections that could compromise your immune system.  

It is important to wash your bed sheets at least once a week to prevent this harmful bacteria from making you sick.


view of inside of fridge with containers and fruits and food in it
It is important to clean out your fridge often to prevent the possibility of foodborne illness.

The kitchen can be one of the most common places for harmful bacteria to build up. It is important to especially pay attention to your refrigerator, where E. coli, salmonella, and more could be hiding. 

To reduce your chances of developing any kind of foodborne illness, make sure to wash your fruits and vegetables carefully before eating them, and disinfect the fridge drawers and shelves at least once a month.  

It is also a good idea to organize your food according to your fridge’s coolness per area, such as storing meats and dairy products in the designated drawers and keeping milk in the coolest part of the fridge (which is actually the bottom shelf rather than the door).


While it may seem like a scary time in which we have little control, there are actually a lot of things you can do to help improve your health, such as cleaning.  

By keeping your home clean, you can help ensure that you are improving your health rather than harming it. If you need help keeping track of everything you need to keep clean, try the Dirtfree app for free today! 

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