In honor of Halloween, we’ve compiled the weirdest, foulest facts about the things in your house that really cause allergies and colds. Before you read this, put away those fun-size Twix bars you’re snacking on. You won’t be hungry anymore.
Dust Mites: The Vampires of the Insect World
You may have heard the commonly thrown-around statistic that dust is 90% dead skin cells. Gross, right? Turns out, the truth is much worse. Dust consists of dead skins cells, sure, but also the creatures that dine on them—dust mites. Specifically, their corpses and poop.
Dust mites are members of the spider family. Just like vampires, who only feed on human blood, dust mites live exclusively on one part of the body—dead skin tissue. Your mattress is probably full of them. A study by The Discover Channel’s MythBusters found that your 90-pound mattress can gain 20 pounds in 10 years. This extra weight is a mixture of drool, lice, dead skin cells (you shed 2 to 3 pounds a year), dust mites, their dead bodies, and their feces.
To fight these creepy crawlers, check out our guide on how to get rid of dust mites.
Cold Viruses are Everywhere
Cold viruses don’t just live in the air: They reside all over your home. Take one 2008 University of Virginia study of 30 people who had just come down with a cold. 41% of the surfaces tested in their homes, 18 hours after onset, contained cold viruses. This included 100% of the salt and pepper shakers and half of the remote controls.
Another study found that 26% of the bathtubs tested contained the bacteria that causes E. coli poisoning. In addition, an English study of toothbrushes found that one brush can have 100 million bacteria, including that same E. coli strain.
Consider keeping your toothbrush in a case, and store it upright. Wipe down those places you might forget, like lamps and the tops of spice jars, when you’re cleaning.
Cockroaches in Your Cupboards—and Your Chocolate Bars
A 2006 study found cockroach allergens on 11% of living room floors and 13% of kitchen floors. These cringe-inducing critters can live for up to a month without food, and up to a week without their head. They’re causing asthma rates to soar among children, especially those in inner cities.
Roaches aren’t just eating your food. They’re in it. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), an average of 8 insect parts are found in one chocolate bar—and this is well below the level deemed safe by the FDA.
We recommend using baits and traps (rather than chemicals, which can irritate allergies) whenever fighting the zombie roach apocalypse. And as for those Twix bars, we want to know…will you ever eat chocolate again?