Unwelcome residents lurking in holiday homes
As we prepare to head off for a much needed summer break after being cooped up for most of 2020, be extra careful about the dust and mould that has taken up residence in the holiday homes.
Last updated 2 December 2020
As we prepare to head off for a much needed summer break after being cooped up for most of 2020, the National Asthma Council Australia is urging the 2.7 million Australians with asthma to be extra careful about the dust and mould that has taken up residence in the holiday homes they are about to inhabit.
Many holiday homes have been left empty for much of the year, allowing all sorts of asthma and allergy triggers like dust mites and mould to thrive in the warm and humid environments experienced in many parts of Australia.
National Asthma Council Australia’s Sensitive Choice Program Manager Adele Taylor says house dust mites are the most common allergic trigger for asthma in Australia.
“These microscopic creatures feed off skin scales and grow well in mild and humid climates such as coastal areas and will be ready and waiting for your arrival in bedding, furniture, fabrics and clothing that has been left all year in cupboards.
“The best strategy to help anyone with asthma or allergies to enjoy a happy and healthy summer holiday is to kill house dust mites, remove the allergen they produce and reduce areas where they can live and breed,” she said.
Ms Taylor says that another possible trigger for asthma is mould that could have developed in holiday homes that have been shut up for long periods without any ventilation.
“Mould can make itself at home anywhere there is low air flow or excess moisture, such as built-in wardrobes and in bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms.
“Mould also has a habit of hiding and it spreads to places you cannot see such as the compact laundries often found in holiday apartments that have tight spaces and are a favourite home for mould.
Some key tips from Sensitive Choice to make your stay a happy and healthy one:
- Wash sheets and pillowcases before you sleep on them in water hotter than 55°C, or if you can’t wash in hot water, throw them in the tumble dryer even for a few minutes at a high temperature
- Cover mattresses, quilts and pillows with dust mite-resistant cases and underlays
- Use a damp or electrostatic cloth to dust hard surfaces as these trap the dust on the cloth
- For hard floors like timber or tiles, use a damp electrostatic or steam mop
- Vacuum carpets and soft furnishings before you settle in and if you can, use one with an asthma and allergy sensitive HEPA filter
- Reduce indoor humidity by opening the curtains and keep rooms dry and well ventilated
- If there is any visible mould, remove it with fermented vinegar– if you are sensitive to strong odours, wear a mask or ask someone else to do it for you
- If you are travelling in your home state, consider bringing a dehumidifier from home if you have one to remove moisture and/or an air purifier with a HEPA filter– to reduce air borne mould spores
- Remove any indoor pot plants (if they are still alive!) as they can promote mould growth
“It may delay the fun start to your holiday by just a little bit, but giving a holiday home that has been lying vacant a good clean will help you enjoy the rest of your stay,” Ms Taylor says.
The National Asthma Council Australia advises that it is important to visit your doctor before you go away on holidays to make sure your asthma and allergies are under control and always take your asthma action plan with you.
For more information on managing your asthma and staying well visit the Sensitive Choice website.