Allergies, breathing difficulties and asthma are becoming more and more common in our society. New Zealand has a high prevalence of asthma, with one in seven children (13%) aged 2-14 years and one in eight adults (12 percent) reporting taking current asthma medication.
One in three New Zealanders will suffer from an allergy at some time in their lives. An allergy occurs when a person’s immune system overreacts to substances in the environment.
If someone in your household is suffering from allergies, asthma or poor health in general, there are inexpensive things you can do right now to improve their health and general comfort within the home.
Firstly, start by working out what asthma and allergy triggers affect your family.
Pollens, pets, dust mites or mould? Or is it something else like chemicals or temperature changes?
Once you know the important triggers, you can focus your efforts on the right areas and simple changes might help your whole family breathe a little easier.
Below is a list of actions you can take regularly within your home to improve the air quality and reduce triggers immediately.
Unfortunately dust mites love the comfort of your bed as much as you do.
But a weekly hot wash will kill any mites in your bed linen and the same goes for any cushions and soft toys too - if you can’t wash the items, try popping them in the freezer overnight.
Mattress, pillows and quilts can be a little more challenging to wash, so instead, look for washable mite-proof covers or products with antimicrobial properties.
Dust Mites thrive in humid conditions, as does mould. So it may be necessary for you to think about the air flow and how it could be improved in your bedroom. Things to try could be an air conditioner, dehumidifier, air purifier or just simply opening a window.
Remove any mould with naturally fermented white vinegar and make sure any leaks or rising damp is treated promptly.
If your pet causes any asthma or allergies to members of your family, the pet really needs to be kept out of the bedroom of that person.
The main challenge of any wardrobe in our homes is humidity - and house dust mites and mould just love a humid environment. These also happen to be two of the most common allergy and asthma triggers.
So how do you know if humidity is a problem?
And what can you do to solve this problem?
How do you get rid of dust mites and humidity?
All bathrooms are prone to dampness and mould. But you can try to prevent mould with a few simple measures:
Certain varieties of indoor plants can be wonderful air purifiers, however all plants can also promote mould growth in damp areas, so you’ll need to be extra vigilant here.
When mould does appear, remove it naturally with fermented white vinegar. A handy shower mould hack is to spray your shower down with white vinegar after each use. This also helps to prevent calcium build up on your shower walls, glass and tapware.
Make sure shower curtains are not left bunched up and damp - try to position them in a sense where they can dry out between uses. Wash regularly and soak in oxygen bleach to remove any mould that does occur. After soaking, add ½ cup of white vinegar to your fabric softener dispenser when you put it through the wash in your machine.
A clean hygienic kitchen is important for good health, but there is no extra benefit in over sanitizing every surface. In fact, strong chemicals can cause irritation of sensitive eyes and noses.
Look for products without harsh chemicals and no fragrances. Soap based cleaners have been proven to be the most effective and cleaning your surfaces and washing away any harmful bacteria, without harmful chemicals and the residues they leave behind, or creating bacterial resistance.
Be on the lookout for mould in your kitchen too. Ensure you have good airflow in pantries and other dark or musty spots.
Good ventilation will help everyone breathe easier, so use an extractor fan and open a window if you can.
And of course, take extra precautions in all areas of the kitchen if food allergies are involved.
Furniture, curtains and floors can harbour all sorts of allergy triggers, including dust mites, mould and pet dander. It is important to:
There are three main issues to consider in your laundry:
It is also a good idea to leave the washing machine door open after you finish the washing to prevent mould from growing on the seals.
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Endocrine disruptors like BPA and phthalates lurk in everything from cleaning products to fragrances. Our bodies are run by a network of hormones and glands (the endocrine system) that regulate everything we do.