There are hundreds of everyday items inside homes that people can be allergic to without even knowing. A home’s interior traps and harbours all sorts of allergens, sometimes making them impossible to avoid.From laundry detergent to bed sheets, there are plenty of common household things that can trigger reactions and illnesses, including perennial allergic rhinitis, eczema and asthma. See below what potential allergens could be lurking in your home.
1) Dust mites
About a quarter of a millimeter long, dust mites are microscopic creatures that live off the skin scales of humans and thrive in humid environments. They can be found in bedding, carpets, clothing and soft furnishing.
People allergic to these tiny bugs often aren’t directly allergic to the mite itself, but the proteins in their feaces.
Each mite produces around 20 of these droppings daily, which continue to cause allergic symptoms even after the mite has died.
Allergies to house dust mites is very common; asthma, eczema and perennial allergic rhinitis are all known to be linked to the mites.
Most of the exposure to the mite allergen occurs in the bed. Taking precautions by utilising allergy-proof covers and washing sheets regularly can help prevent allergic reactions.
Vacuums help banish the likes of dust and pet dander allergens, but an ill-treated machine will do quite the opposite.
An old or full vacuum will dredge up debris through the air and spread it around furniture and flooring, causing debris to build up and linger around for longer.
A full vacuum bag will hinder suction, leaving the dust and debris to have nowhere to go. Emptying a vacuum’s filter every six months or whenever the bag gets about three-quarters full will inhibit this.
3) Bath mats
As the chilly damp weather continues to dominate most of the current weather front, the temptation is to stay inside, turn up the heating and hot water usage. But if there’s not enough ventilation inside a home, this creates the perfect environment for mould to grow.
Positioned in a room that gets damp regularly, bathmats are an ideal culprit for mould spores, bacteria and dust mites to develop and travel through the air.
Washing bath mats monthly will prevent mould spores and bacteria from growing that can cause illnesses.
4) Upholstered furniture
Upholstered furniture can pick up allergens easily, including dust and bed mites.
Upholstered sofas and headboards are much harder to clean than most other household furnishings, and heavily contaminated items can make allergy symptoms worse.
Vacuuming can aid with removing some allergens lurking on the surface, but won’t get rid of the mites and bacteria living deeper in the fabric and stuffing.
5) Soft toys
Childrens plush toys can be swarming with dust mites that can bring about sneezing, wheezing, coughing and a runny nose. Or worse, an asthma attack in those who are heavily allergic.
Avoid this hidden danger by only purchasing soft toys that can be washed, and wash them monthly to keep the little critters at bay.
If toys are non-washable, spritzing them with an allergen reduce spray will reduce risks.
Second-hand bookstores and libraries are known for their musty smell, but people who suffer from dust allergies can face serious issues in such areas where thick layers of dust form.
The same applies for basements, attics, storage rooms, study rooms and bookshelves inside homes.
Wiping down surfaces, books and other collectibles will stop allergens from gathering and causing bad reactions.
Indoor plants encourage any room to appear more welcoming, however some, including ragweed, produce tiny wind-borne pollens that usually cause allergies.
While plants that depend on insect pollination, like most flowers, don’t.
Yet the strong scents given off by flowers can still be an irritant for some people and can cause continuous sneezing.
Heavily fragranced blooms like freesia and stargazer lilies are best swapped for neutral smelling blossoms such as dahlias and irises.
8) Laundry detergent
The ingredients in some laundry detergents and fabric softeners can cause some people to break out with allergic reactions.
Skin tightening, sneezing, itchy eyes and skin rashes such as eczema and hives can be triggered by detergent liquids directly touching the skin, or being transferred through clothes, towels or bed sheets.
For those with sensitive skin such allergic reactions can be prevented by avoiding detergents that are heavily fragranced or include sodium lauryl sulfate; a chemical that breaks the layer of oil on the skin that keeps it from drying out.