We tend to think of our homes as islands cut off from the rest of the world. Where nothing lives except ourselves and our loved ones. But in reality we share our home with millions of little creatures — and not just bacteria. Some of them even live on us and our pets.
And while some of these creatures are a normal and natural presence in the house, others aren’t supposed to be there — instead, bad cleaning habits (or not cleaning at all) can “invite” them to come in and live in the house with us.
All of these creatures — normal or not normal — can make us ill if we don’t clean properly enough. Because a dirty environment gives them the chance to multiply, and in large numbers we begin to “feel” their presence, such as through allergies or other means.
Let’s take a look at some of the creepy-crawlies that call our home theirs, and what we can do to get rid of them.
This parasite lives in the stomach-lining of cats and dogs, and its eggs drop out through feces. Litter-trays and dog poop is therefore a hotbed for infection. The eggs can even “stick” to the paws of your beloved pets, where they are transmitted easily throughout the house. The scary thing about this parasite is, it is a mind-altering parasite. It can infect the brain, where it subtlety influences our behaviour.
It is important that you regularly and thoroughly clean up after your pets’ mess, and that you also clean their feet. Try to limit where they go in the house, and certainly discourage them from jumping up on the worktop (in the case of cats) or the couch. Wash your hands after touching your pet.
It’s a bit of a mystery, where this microscopic spore comes from. But it has a nasty habit of infecting water — even chlorinated water. Usually, you will instinctively know if a source of water is infected with it, as it will generally be dirty or contaminated. A major source of contamination is shower water, or swimming pool water.
Exposure can make you ill with stomach cramps and fever. This isn’t so much of a cleaning tip as a general awareness tip. If you have reason to suspect your water supply is contaminated with cryptosporidium, notify your water supplier.
Mites live on your face. Yes, you read that correctly. At least two species, that aren’t even closely related to each other.
And while it is normal to have thousands of microscopic mites moving about, breeding, and eating around your hair follicles, not cleaning properly can encourage a boom in their reproductive cycles.
Too many face mites can cause acne and other skin conditions like rosacea; itching and hair loss. To get rid of them, use creams designed for oily skin in conjunction with tea tree oils and wipes, and try to wash your face several times a day. This should get down their numbers.
Up to 10 million of these tiny, microscopic spiders can inhabit an old mattress, where their excessive droppings can trigger allergies. It is estimated that nearly 1 in 5 people are sensitive to excessive dust mites.
You can get rid of them by regular damp dusting; washing fabrics at 60 degrees Celsius, and swapping the faeces-laden mattress every seven years for a new one.
These tiny terrors need no introduction. In the summertime, and particularly at dusk, they like to gather around light and water sources, and feast on whatever sweet skin they can get their hands on.
A lot of bites are avoidable and stem from the condition of the garden. A rundown garden, with refuse or rubbish, open sources and long grass, can all encourage them to breed and hatch — and make their way inside through an open window. Reduce their numbers by cleaning and cutting the garden; clearing any debris away, and eliminating/covering any likely breeding grounds.
These beasts are attracted to offal; crumps, leftover food and water, and live in cracks and crevices in old foundations. When they don’t get what they want, they leave “smear marks” that not only smell rotten but spread disease.
The best way to fight against cockroaches is to not encourage them in, in the first place. Clean up after eating; and especially check to see if there aren’t crumbs lying about. Once an infestation is established, it may be time to call in an exterminator. Regular vacuuming will work well to clear away the eggs.
Actually bedbugs are a sign of a clean home, as they love clean environments. They are actually common in affluent hotels and esteemed apartments — so think of the infestation as a sort of compliment (well, that’s one way to look at it anyway).
Bedbugs owe their success to their eggs’ ability to survive in transportation for long periods of time. So if you’ve stayed in a room that’s not your own — and especially if you’ve been to a hotel — isolate your clothes and case and check for eggs. Vacuum them up if you see them. If your home is already infested, call an exterminator.
Most ticks cannot survive for long inside — they are woodland creatures. Except for the Brown Dog Tick. If you’ve been on a long walk with your dog, and especially in a grassy or leafy area, give it a check for ticks. Like with mosquitoes, the garden is another culprit here. Keep your garden tick-unfriendly by pruning back any bushes and trees, and by trimming the grass short.
This article was written by Neil Wright of Pure Freedom, a company that manufactures window cleaning systems for professional cleaners in the UK.