Dangers of children living in filthy homes

The definition of a filthy home may vary from individual to individual, as people have different standards of cleanliness. Excessive filth in the home becomes a concern when human health hazards are present. Normal childhood encounters with household pets, sand, bugs, water and plant matter are generally considered safe, as exposure to some natural substances may in fact boost resistance to allergens. However, allowing a home to become extremely dirty can pose health risks to children and adult family members.

Rodent Droppings and Disease

Rodent droppings, especially those of wild mice and house mice, are known to carry viruses transmissible to humans. Two serious diseases spread by rodents are Hantavirus and Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis (LCMV); both can be fatal if left untreated. Not all mice are infected, yet it is important to seal up rodent holes, trap house mice and clean nesting areas and rodent faeces with a disinfectant as soon as they are spotted in the home.

Arsenic and Lead

Arsenic is a natural substance sometimes present in the soil outdoors. Lead dust from paint or industrial materials may also get into the soil, especially near roadways. When people walk in and out of their homes with dirty shoes and track dirt inside, contaminated soil builds up and may cause long-term neurological damage to small children. The best defence to preventing this type of contamination is to remove your shoes when entering the home, damp-mop floors, wipe counters and wash hands thoroughly before eating.

Human Fecal Matter

Intestinal tract infections, like those that sometimes cause diarrhoea, are often spread through direct contact with contaminated human faeces. When an ill individual utilises the rest room, they may inadvertently contaminate the toilet, sink, light switches and other surfaces, especially if hands are not thoroughly washed. The amount of fecal matter necessary to spread infections is very small, and may not be visible. Disinfecting toilets and bathroom surfaces, especially if a household member experiences diarrhoea, is crucial to prevent spreading the infection to additional family members. Frequent hand washing is another way to make sure children do not accidentally spread fecal matter to toys or ingest it while eating.


Different types of mould spores exist naturally in various types of environments. Most people easily tolerate naturally-occurring mould exposure, especially when they are outdoors. Mold becomes a problem to some children or individuals who are highly allergic to the spores, or when rampant mould growth occurs inside the home. Leaving large piles of wet clothes or towels on floors increases mildew and moisture within the home. Bathrooms should be cleaned with bleach if excessive mould is spotted on surfaces.


Large amounts of household goods, paper, furniture, clothes and other items can accumulate into piles throughout the home. If a house does not have proper storage, stacks of household items become dangerous obstructions for children. Large amounts of papers, old magazines and furnishings are potential fire hazards. Stacks of goods and large items may also block clear pathways out of the home in case of emergency. Cluttered homes increase the amount of dust in a house, thus triggering dust allergies or asthma in susceptible children. Keeping surfaces and floors clean of food remnants and waste is also a good way to reduce the amount of insects in your home. By eliminating insect food sources, the need to spray insecticides is reduced, thus protecting children from exposure to pesticides.

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About the Author

Cassandra Gailis lives outside of Anchorage, Alaska and began writing self-improvement articles in 2010. Gailis has extensive experience in professional grant writing, health research and international travel. She holds a Master of Science degree in health education from Minnesota State University.