Summer cleaning can help reduce allergy and asthma triggers in your home, advises the National Asthma Council Australia, but it must be done with care to avoid triggering an asthma attack while dusting.
Dirt, dust, mould and other allergens tend to collect over the winter months, leading to a potentially dangerous build-up of these common asthma triggers in your home. These irritants, combined with higher humidity and hotter temperatures in summer, lead to additional risk in living spaces, particularly holiday homes.
Spokesperson for the National Asthma Council Australia Adam Trumble said that it is important in any summer cleaning to create a home environment that reduces the triggers that may cause asthma or an allergic reaction.
“Dust mites are the number one trigger for asthma in Australia. They are mostly found in the home and live in soft furnishings such as beds, bedding, carpets and upholstered furniture as well as soft toys and clothing. The bedroom is the site of greatest exposure to the pesky mite.
“Extra care needs to be taken with summer blankets and other seasonal items, which have been stored away in cupboards or garages.
“Doing a thorough clean can help reduce exposure to summer allergen triggers. However, for some people, cleaning with chemicals, particularly in confined spaces, or dusting can actually trigger an asthma attack – so, if you, or someone in your family, has asthma, clean with caution and make sure you have an asthma action plan,” warned Adam Trumble.
These summer cleaning tips can help reduce the impact of these common triggers on you and your family:
- Clear out the clutter. Fewer places for dust to collect mean fewer dust mites, and it also makes your home easier to keep clean.
- If cleaning chemical fumes get up your nose, use a mask, look for chemical-free alternatives or ask someone else to help you with the cleaning.
- Use a damp or electrostatic cloth to dust hard surfaces (including floors) – this dramatically reduces the dust in the air while cleaning.
- Make sure mattresses and pillows are low allergy, or encased in mite-proof covers. Remove old soft toys and old soft furnishings, if possible. Soft toys can be placed in the freezer overnight to kill dust mites (although this will not remove allergens – washing in temperatures above 55°C is better, if possible).
- Keep rooms dry and well-ventilated.
- If you can see or smell mould, the cause needs to be identified and fixed and the mould needs to be removed.
- Carpets need to be vacuumed regularly – however vacuuming increases allergens in the air for up to 20 minutes. If you have asthma, it is a good idea to ask someone else to do the vacuuming for you and wait for 20 minutes before re-entering the room.
- Clean your curtains and blinds throughout your home.
- Change or clean all old filters on air conditioners or air purifiers.
Wash bedclothes weekly in hot water (over 55°C).
Do not forget your car in your summer cleaning routine. Car air intakes may scoop up pollen allowing it to be spread into the car interior and air ducts can collect leaves and other debris, which can retain moisture, allowing mould to grow. Consider getting your filter replaced and clean out car ducts, particularly if there is a musty smell coming from them.
Check out the National Asthma Council Australia’s Sensitive Choice® website for recommended house cleaning products that are better choices for people with asthma and allergies.
To help make summer cleaning easier on the lungs, the National Asthma Council Australia’s Sensitive Choice® program helps people make informed decisions when selecting products that may be better choices for asthma and allergy. Currently there are more than 300 Sensitive Choice approved products, from vacuum cleaners and bedding to insulation and paint carrying the blue butterfly symbol. For more information visit the Sensitive Choice website
For further information, or to arrange an interview with a National Asthma Council Australia spokesperson, please contact:
The Reputation Group
Tel: 03 9642 5858
Mob: 0438 603 962