Keep your home healthy by cutting down on allergens

Reduce harmful allergens in your home this summer

There’s plenty to consider when smartening up your home, such as budget, style and the different tastes of family members. However, one of the other important factors to consider is whether or not your home is healthy.

Image credits: Polly Eltes

Breathe easy at home

For people who suffer from allergies, ranging from hayfever and asthma to eczema, it’s vital that thought is put into the products they buy and use in their home. In fact. even if you don’t have a family member with allergies, reducing allergens should be considered as guests to your home may be affected.

Image credit: Simon Whitmore

Find out what you can do in your home

Use paint that is VOC- and formaldehyde-free when decorating, and opt for cleaning products that been approved by Allergy UK.

Get an air purifier to help filter out airborne allergens, such as house dust mites, cats and dogs, pollen and mould, as well as smoke and bacteria, which are common irritants.

Look for Allergy UK’s Seal of Approval when shopping for new appliances, bedding, cleaning products and flooring to give reassurances that the product will reduce or remove allergens.

Image credit: Spike Powell

Visit the Allergy UK website for a list of products, ranging from air purifiers to steam cleaners, that are endorsed by the charity.

In the bedroom

Dust-mites thrive in nice, warm houses with carpets and soft furnishings. They particularly like mattresses, which provide a ready supply of human skin scales and become moist and encrusted with mould, just what a dust-mite likes to eat. Look out for hypoallergenic pillows if you want a great night’s sleep.

There are between two to three million mites in the average mattress and their allergen-laden droppings are a trigger for conditions such as asthma, rhinitis and eczema. A child who sleeps in a lower bunk bed is effectively the filling in a dust-mite sandwich. To minimise the mites wash bedding regularly and use a protective cover on mattresses.

On the floor

Image credit: Polly Eltes

Remove carpeting and use hardwood or linoleum flooring or washable rugs. If that isn’t an option, use low-pile instead of high-pile carpeting and hoover regulary (once a week) with a cleaner that has a small-particle or high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. Don’t forget to shampoo the carpet frequently, especially if you have pets.

In the kitchen

Build wall cupboards to the ceiling to avoid dust being collected in hard to reach places. Wipe down kitchen cabinets every 2/3 months and choose easy to wipe fronts for your cupboards.

Wash out refrigerators regularly to make sure that mould does not gather in the corners.

Make sure that the grouting of tiles is flush with the work surface to eliminate any chances of mould or food forming.

Wipe food surfaces down after preparing food with a cloth dampened with disinfectant.

In the bathroom

Be careful with the chemicals you use on the toilet as these can irritate the respiratory system. If sensitive to chemicals use an equal mixture of domestic borax and vinegar to treat hard water deposits. Avoid using perfumed sprays – opening a window is just as effective.If you do wish to use an air freshner, you could use an endorsed reduced allergenic one. Remember to always wear protective gloves when cleaning the toilet or handling chemicals.

If mould appears on the shower curtain or around the bath clean it with a paste of vinegar and lemon juice. Apply and then rinse well.

Image credit: David Giles

To clean bathroom tiles rub the surface with undiluted white vinegar. Leave for 15 mintues the rinse thoroughly.

Look to tech

Allergies playing up? Pet hairs, pollen and dust all cause problems, but make every room healthier with some bacteria-busting tech and you’ll feel better as a result. From vacuums to target dust mites to air purifiers, there are loads of gadgets that can come to the rescue.

Let’s start with the air that you breathe. Air pollution might conjure up images of smoky factories, but the air inside our homes can be up to five times more polluted than the air outside, and 81% of are at risk of suffering a respiratory or skin condition because of poor air quality in the home. An air monitor will keep tabs on the air quality and send you alerts if it deteriorates, so you can open a window or take stronger measures to improve your ventilation.

Invest in an air purifier
Philips’ anti-allergen model quietly rids the air of 99.9% of bacteria and 99% of particles like dust, pet hair & pollen, dimming its light at night, so you can pop one in a bedroom and not be disturbed. It can be set to run for one, four or eight hours, and costs £390. Dyson’s Pure Hot+Cool Link, £499, is a heater, fan and purifier that removes 99.95% of allergens, mould, bacteria and pet dander, and any bad smells.

Humidity can play a part
It’s best to keep humidity levels at home between 30% and 50% to limit the growth of potentially toxic mould. Dry clothes outside, or use a tumble dryer. Consider buying a dehumidifier – DeLonghi has an excellent range.

Do you suffer from allergies? Share your tips for keeping an allergy-proof home.

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