Creating a healthy home
Creating a healthy home can help you and your family breathe cleaner, fresher air and potentially reduce allergic reactions or allergy-related asthma attacks.
First, you need to know your triggers to see how they could be affecting you. Then, you can take steps to avoid or reduce their impact.
Our Healthy Home shows you which triggers are found where and explains what you can do about them.
Building and renovating
Building and renovating gives you the chance to tackle asthma and allergy triggers at the source.
A dry and well-ventilated house with good wall, floor and ceiling insulation can help with triggers such as dust mites, mould, chemicals like VOC’s, and temperature changes.
When choosing products look for anti-mould properties, their impact on temperature or humidity, and whether they’re easy to clean. Products with low or no VOCs or chemicals can also help you breathe easier – it’s even better if you let any smells or fumes air out before you settle in.
Two of the most common asthma and allergy triggers to look out for in your bedroom are dust mites and mould.
Dust mites can be found in everything from bedding and furniture to soft toys and clothes. To help reduce exposure, focus on regularly washing sheets and pillowcases in water hotter than 55 degrees and cover mattress, quilts and pillows with mite-resistant cases or products made with anti-microbial treatment.
Mould can also get into bedrooms, making itself at home anywhere there is low air flow or excess moisture, such as built-in wardrobes and ensuite bathrooms. High levels of indoor humidity create ideal conditions for mould to thrive so try to keep bedrooms dry and well ventilated by opening windows regularly and leaving wardrobe doors ajar.
Furniture, curtains and flooring can harbour all sorts of triggers, from dust mites to pet dander. Look for products that are easy to clean or have anti-microbial properties.
When cleaning the living areas of your home such as carpets and soft furnishings, use a vacuum cleaner with an asthma and allergy sensitive HEPA filter. For hard floors like timber or tiles, use a damp or electrostatic cloth or steam mop.
It’s important to remember that cleaning activities such as vacuuming and dusting will stir up allergens so if you are sensitive, consider asking someone else to do it and stay out of the room while it’s happening.
A clean and hygienic kitchen environment is important for maintaining a healthy home.
Cleaning can be a challenge for people with asthma and allergies, so look out for sensitive household cleaning products with fewer harsh chemicals and no fragrances.
Also keep an eye out for mould which is commonly found in fridges and pantries, including on surfaces of various food items. If there is any visible mould, remove it with fermented vinegar and throw out any affected food. Good air flow in pantries and other potentially musty spots can help to prevent mould from coming back.
Mould thrives in warm, damp environments like your bathroom. Good ventilation and fixing any leaks can help reduce the impact of this common trigger.
High levels of indoor humidity can allow mould to grow, so be aware of signs such as condensation on your windows due to lack of air circulation, or a crack in a bathroom tile or pipe.
To help keep this space healthy, focus on good natural air circulation and use extractor fans. Remember it is important to find and fix the source of mould, as well as cleaning visible mould, to stop it from regrowing.
If someone in your household has asthma or allergies, look out for detergents and cleaning products with fewer harsh chemicals and no fragrances.
During pollen season, try to avoid drying bed linen outside on high pollen count days, after thunderstorms and on windy days.
Also keep an eye out for mould lurking in your laundry. Laundries can have high levels of indoor humidity, providing optimal conditions for mould to thrive. Good ventilation can help to tackle this, either by using an extractor fan or opening a door or window, to reduce the likelihood of mould or mildew growth.
Your garden and outdoor areas are a haven for triggers like pollen. If you are sensitive, avoid spending time in the garden on windy or high pollen count days.
The main culprits are pollen from imported grasses, weeds and trees, which are wind pollinated. Pollen can also enter the home through open doors and windows as well as on clothes that may have been exposed to the elements. Products such as air purifiers can be effective in helping to remove triggers such as pollen and pollution from the air.
Some people are also sensitive to the effects of chlorine in pools and spas. Look out for products that avoid chlorine and bromine, but still keep pools and spas clean.