Awareness is increasing that many household goods, from your personal care products and food packaging to your couch cushions, could harbor dangerous chemicals.  Less well known is the fact that even seemingly healthy products may turn out to be bad for you.

If you have any of these “healthy”or at the very least innocuous-seeming items around your home, you may want to think twice…

1) Antibacterial Soap: Washing your hands is your number one protection against the acquisition and spread of infectious disease.  But you do not need to use antibacterial soap to get the job done. There is a bacterial layer on the skin that protects the body. Don’t wash away your initial defense system! Just use mild soap: Castile soap is one example.

2) Your Chair: Sitting kills! Stand up to back pain and a healthy lifestyle. Your body was designed to be active and on the move all day long.  When you stop moving for extended periods of time, such as sitting, it’s like telling your body it’s time to shut down. If you work a desk job, a standing workstation will be instrumental for achieving this goal, and I also recommend getting 10,000 steps a day, in addition to regular high-intensity exercises.

3) Whitening or Antibacterial Toothpaste: Whitening toothpastes may be grittier in order to scrub stains off your teeth, but the grit may actually wear away your enamel or make your teeth and gums more sensitive.  Also, be on the lookout for antibacterial toothpaste, like Colgate Total, which contains triclosan.

This gives food and bacteria an entrance to your gum line, which could actually cause gum disease.  

4) Cotton Swabs: Your ears should have a healthy amount of earwax. as they’re a self-cleaning part of your body.  Excess earwax should move out of your ear canal automatically, as cells there actually migrate naturally.

When earwax is pushed deep into you ear where it doesn’t belong, it can bring fungus, bacteria, and viruses from the outer ear into the inner ear, increasing the risk of infection, It can also block your ear canal, leading to hearing loss, or even cause a ruptured eardrum.

5) Humidifier: During the winter months, heaters and cold temperatures may lead to dry air with low humidity.  This air can lead to dry skin, irritated sinuses and throat, and itchy eyes.  Over time, exposure to low humidity can even dry out and inflame the mucous membrane lining your respiratory tract.  When this natural barrier is no longer working properly, it increases your risk of colds, the flu, and other infections.

The water in the reservoir should be changed daily, and be sure the are around it (tabletops, windows, carpeting, curtains, etc.) are kept dry.  If you have a central air heating system, the best humidifier is one that is build directly over your furnace and tied into a humidistat and water source so the entire process is automated and your home is evenly humidified.

6) Loofah: A loofah provides a perfect environment for bacteria, fungi, and mold to grow, specially when kept in the warm, humid confines of your bathroom or shower. If you love to loofah, choose one made of a natural fiber, which will naturally contain enzymes to inhibit microbial growth, and replace it monthly.  After each use, wring it out and allow it to dry thoroughly – and store it in a cool, dry spot.

7) Blender: Blenders are handy for whipping up healthy morning smoothies…but if you’re not washing yours properly, it could be a problem. The blender gasket (the rubber ring that holds the blade portion of the blender in place) has been fount to be the third germiest item in the kitchen. When you’re done using your blender, be sure to disassemble it completely and wash each part, including the gasket, well.

8) Nail Tools:Pumice stones, cuticle clippers and other nail tools harbor bacteria from your skin.  If you neglect to wash them, they could potentially cause skin infections (this is especially true if you share your nail tools with friends or family members).  Nail tools should be washed with soap and water after each use, and pumice stones should be replaces every three to four weeks.

9) Stuffed Animals: Stuffed animals are known to collect dust mites, which are a major cause of indoor dust allergies.  If your’re child can’t part with theirs, cut the number down to one or two kept on the bed, with the rest stored on a shelf.  You can also put the stuffed animals in a plastic bag and leave it in the freezer overnight, as the cold will kill the dust mites.

10) Rubber Spatula: Rubber spatulas were found to be even germier that blender gaskets, coming in at the second germiest item in the kitchen.  The problem is that most people do not pull the spatula head off the handle when cleaning, which allows E. coli, yeast and mold to grow. 

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