If you’ve been feeling sick, the cause might not be a virus. Certain environmental factors at home — from dry air to pollutants to allergens — can give you itchy skin, brain fog, and a stuffy nose. Try these simple home tweaks to help reduce fatigue, nix allergies, soothe skin, and more, so you feel better for the rest of winter and through spring.
Itchy skin? Try a humidifying trick.
Cold outdoor air and dry indoor heat sap skin’s moisture. The fix? Studies show that adding humidity to the air can rehydrate skin in just five days. No humidifier? Open the bathroom door when showering, hang up washed clothes to dry, and open the dishwasher once it’s finished running. Done in combination, the added moisture will keep humidity levels high in your home for hours.
Brain fog? Add in tropical plants.
Through microscopic pores in their leaves, tropical greens like spider plants and Chinese evergreen plants absorb pollutants, notes Tanya Plattner of Tidy Life Happy Wife. Those chemicals include the brain fog-causing formaldehyde and the headache-inducing benzene, both of which leech out of your carpets, furniture, and cleaning products. To clean the air in no time, simply place a few of the easy-to-care-for houseplants in sunny spots around your home.
Always congested? Mix up this spritz.
“Allergy-triggering dust mites are a common problem in warm, dark areas of your home during the winter months,” notes Plattner. To nix them and stop feeling sick, dust floors and surfaces as normal to trap particles. Then, mist air in the area using a spray bottle filled with one cup of water and one teaspoon of tea tree oil. The oil contains antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties that kill mites fast.
Dry cough? Hang up a charcoal bag.
The cool, damp air in your basement can allow cough-inducing mold to thrive. To eliminate it, pop a few charcoal briquettes in inconspicuous spots around the room, suggests Plattner. The charcoal’s carbon absorbs moisture to keep mold and mildew at bay.
Feeling fatigued? Open the bedroom door.
As you exhale during sleep, carbon dioxide can build up in the room and trigger a restless slumber. To increase airflow, open your bedroom door before you drift off to dreamland. In one study, this simple move lowered carbon dioxide levels by nearly 36 percent, leading volunteers to fall asleep faster and enjoy more restorative Zzzs.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.