Around the house: Simple home habits for a healthy 2022

Jennifer E. Engen

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Remember how much the night-time ritual of brushing your teeth, washing your face, and getting to bed annoyed you as a child? If you asked why you had to do it day after darn day, a common answer would be that it was good for you.

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That remains true, even if grown-up you still resists just a little. Hygiene really does support health, and it’s never been easier to practice it around the house.

While it can be tempting to “forget” to brush your teeth before bed, for example, you shouldn’t. Your mouth is the entry point to your digestive and respiratory tracts, and you don’t want accumulated oral bacteria travelling there while you sleep, especially when their effect can be heightened by common medications and conditions.

Brands like Philips and Oral B make home dental-care products with increasingly sophisticated functions that target specific hygiene issues. An electric toothbrush is a good place to start, because it cleans more effectively than a manual; even more so if paired with an air- or water-flosser.

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Across home and self-care categories, consumer interest grows in plant-based ingredients. Some make immediate sense—coconut oil, hemp, and aloe—while others initially seem counter-intuitive. Hello , for example, has a line that includes activated charcoal, a “naturally friendly” ingredient they say prevents cavities, whitens naturally without peroxide, and strengthens enamel to protect it from bacteria.

Quebec-based Attitude Living recently added a toothpaste that uses green tea and papaya to its growing line of household products, some refillable. Like many in the home/self-care category, the company’s direct-to-consumer model brings goods right to the door.

Washing your face at night is important because it eliminates bacteria that might otherwise multiple in your eyes or mouth, or on your skin, as you sleep. Changing pillowcases mid-week will further reduce the chance of irritation or infection.

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Rechargeable toothbrushes are effective and convenient.
Rechargeable toothbrushes are effective and convenient. Photo by Philips photograph

Speaking of bedtime, consider what you’re jumping into. When was the last time the surface of the bed was vacuumed, or the mattress-cover washed? Doing both every six to eight weeks will reduce dust and allergens. The Sleep Association has information on why that’s a good thing, along with tips on mattress care, and what to look for in a new one.

Depending on your environment and your health, an air purifier/humidifier is worth considering: purifiers give allergy and asthma sufferers relief at night, while humidifiers can help with sinus conditions. It’s a growing category, and the newest generation does it all in one. Look to brands like LG, which will debut a design-friendly air purifier/fan/heater tower for the home this year.

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Activated charcoal has a slightly abrasive texture that whitens while cleaning.
Activated charcoal has a slightly abrasive texture that whitens while cleaning. Photo by Hello photograph

What you sleep on can affect the quality of your rest. Linen and cotton, for example, help circulate air and wick away moisture. That regulates body temperature to make sleep more restful.

Sheets made linen, like those from Vancouver-based Flax Home , have a slight texture that softens over time. A personal favourite, it’s highly breathable, which makes it pleasant to sleep on or under in any season. If you care for good-quality linen properly, which isn’t complicated, it can last a generation or two.

Silk has similar properties, although some find it too slippery. Maybe, but that quality makes it excellent for pillowcases that are easier on the hair, and very soft against the skin.

The focus in materials and manufacturing repeats itself, spurring growth of companies like Takasa , a Vancouver, BC-based Benefit Company selling organic cotton bedding that’s ethically sourced and manufactured using environmentally-safe, chemical-free methods.

One last bed-time tip: If you’re not yet boostered against Covid, make a note to yourself to deal with that tomorrow. Then we can all sleep a little more safely, and stay healthier.

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