Now that winter is behind us, we can all say goodbye to cold and flu season! Hooray! Getting active outside and making the most of fresh local produce are just a few of the ways Ontarians enjoy a healthier lifestyle when the warmer weather arrives. But what if there is something lurking in your own home that’s making you sick?

Here are a few sneaky culprits that might be causing chronic illnesses in your home:

Your bed – Everyone has that perfect pillow, the one that makes bedtime that much more enjoyable. But did you know that your precious pillow is a breeding ground for bacteria, mould spores and dust mites? To avoid the allergy-like symptoms that can be caused by these invaders, experts recommend replacing your pillow once per year (or washing it several times annually if possible). An old pillow could also lead to neck and shoulder problems as it loses support over time. The same goes for your mattress. The first step to take is using a protective mattress cover that you can remove and wash. At least once per year, sprinkle baking soda over your mattress for a few hours and let it go to work absorbing odours and bacteria. Then vacuum and air out for a few more hours.

Pets – As much as your love your four-legged friends, allowing them to sleep in your bed isn’t ideal. Allergens like dander, dust, mould spores and bacteria can hide in their fur, transferring to your bed as they roll around. You’ll also have a more restful sleep with pets sleeping in their own bed. You should also try to bathe your pet regularly now that the warmer weather has arrived, whether at home or at a professional groomers.

Cleaning Products – Your mother may have taught you that the toilet isn’t clean until it’s been bleached into submission but there are a number of all natural, green products on the market today that don’t contain harsh chemicals and VOC’s. These substances can cause everything from headaches to eye and respiratory tract infections. A simple solution of vinegar and water is also an effective, affordable and safe cleaner.

The humidifier – If the air in your home is especially dry, a humidifier can be the perfect solution. But it’s important to change the water daily and give the unit a thorough cleaning every week to prevent the growth of mould, which can cause a number of allergy-like symptoms.