Allergy charities and medical institutions all around the world are coming to the same conclusion – that we’re becoming allergic to our own homes. As crazy as it sounds, the concept isn’t too far from the truth, with many of us finding that our sniffling and sneezing becomes much worse indoors than it does outdoors. The big question is ‘why?’
Our homes are full of allergens that can trigger runny noses, streaming eyes, and even bouts of asthma – believe it or not, these allergens can actually affect us worse than the pollen outside. Fortunately, it’s quite easy to reduce the triggers lurking in our homes through good cleaning practices. Here are five ways we can help alleviate allergies by cleaning regularly and thoroughly:
1) Wash Your Bed Sheets Regularly to Relieve Allergies
According to the Allergy Society of South Africa, dust mite excrement is the ‘single most common allergen in South Africa’, with around 30 percent of all people with allergies being particularly sensitive to a dust mite’s waste product. Dust mites live off dead skin cells, and so any part of your home that’s been subjected to bare skin is likely harbouring these creepy crawlies.
They’re often found nestled amongst your bed sheets, so washing your bedding regularly is hugely important to prevent dust mite allergies. Always use a good quality laundry detergent like OMO, and a hot water setting to kill off the mites. Read the product label first to determine dosage.
2) Vacuum Your Carpets to Alleviate Pet Allergies
Pet allergies are another very common household allergy, but many people don’t fully understand how pet allergies work, and why pets are considered to be a trigger for poor health. What many people do understand is that dog and cat fur are allergens, so vacuuming animal hair from carpets on a regular basis is vital. However, what is less understood is that even other types of pet can make allergies worse.
The brown house snake, for example – a very popular pet in South Africa – may not have fur, but owners can be allergic to the proteins found in the animal’s bodily fluids. Regardless of what type of pet you have, if it walks, crawls, or slithers around the floor, keep your vacuum cleaner handy.
3) Keep Your Bathroom Clean and Prevent Mould
Mould has a tendency to grow in damp conditions, which means that bathrooms are particularly susceptible to mould and mildew growth. However, if you live in South Africa’s subtropical regions like the KwaZulu-Natal province, particularly in the coastal areas like Durban, then mould in your home is much more likely, according to the South Africa Allergy Society You can download their informative PDF document here.
You can treat mould by directly applying white vinegar to the walls: leave to dry for an hour, then wipe off with hot water and dry with a towel. To prevent regrowth, ensure your home is adequately ventilated, particularly after taking a steamy shower.
4) Clean and Ventilate Your Wardrobes
Dust mites can also be fond of living in our clothes, as well as our bed sheets, meaning wardrobes can be home to many of these little critters – plus the warm, dark conditions of a wardrobe mean mould can also build up on the inside walls and on our clothes. Make sure you air your wardrobe on a regular basis.
It’s easy to do – remove your clothes, open the doors, and wipe down the interiors and do not store clothes in tight capacity. While you ventilate your wardrobe, you can give your clothes some fresh air and leave them out in the sun for an hour to kill any mould spores. Ventilation will help to disperse any lingering allergens, and prevent mould and dust mites harbouring in your wardrobe or on your clothes.
5) Wipe the Dust Away, Wipe Away the Allergens!
Since dust is absolutely everywhere, the question of how to remove dust in your home is a tricky one. As hard as we try, we can never live in a completely dust-free home. What we can do, however, is remove as much dust as possible, to reduce the risk of a dust allergy occurring.
Many of us wipe down easy-to-reach surfaces and think our job is done, but don’t forget that there could be inches of dust piled up on top of your kitchen cupboards, up high where you can’t see. It’s well worth investing in a long-handled duster or a small stepladder to get to these hard-to-reach places – your nose will thank you for the extra effort.
Clean to Prevent Allergies
Cleaning is often seen as a chore that no one really wants to do, but when you think that tidying up, washing your bedding, and vacuuming your carpets could have a significant effect on your health, cleaning your home is something you really can’t afford to put off. Simply paying more attention to the cleanliness of your home, and adhering to a cleaning schedule, is an excellent way to manage household allergies safely and naturally.