Whenever a healthcare professional asks me if I’m allergic to anything, I typically say no. That’s because there’s no medicine or food, now that I think of it, that causes my lips and tongue to swell up like a balloon, but I do have skin-related issues, and they seem to come into play whenever I change soap or laundry detergent. I learned my lesson a long time ago with soap, but I sometimes have a lapse in judgement when it comes to detergent. I purchase a brand that is dye and fragrance free, but occasionally a sale on another product catches my eye and I cave.
In addition to sticking with a laundry detergent that works for you and your family, properly cleaning your clothes and linens can also help improve allergies. Here are a few tips:
- The hotter the better. A study done in 2007 found that washing laundry in 140 degrees Fahrenheit or higher kills all house dust mites as compared with just 6.5% of dust mites in laundry washed at 104 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition, hot water is also more effective when it comes to removing dog dander and pollen.
- Use the dryer. To avoid mold and mildew issues, transfer your laundry to the dryer as soon as the wash cycle is complete, and never hang your laundry outside where it is susceptible to pollen and mold spores.
- Sleep alone (or with your spouse only). We’ve talked about the importance of properly caring for your bed sheets, and this is especially true when it comes to keeping dust mites at bay. Kick them out of your bed by washing your bed linens once a week in hot water and then thoroughly dry them in the dryer.
- Prevent mold and mildew. High humidity and damp air can lead to mold issues. If you are concerned about mold growth in your home, please contact a professional. When it comes to clothing and such, mold is attracted to soiled areas, sweaty work out clothes, and damp towels. The best way to combat the issue is to address dirty garments quickly, washing in the hottest water safe for the garment, and using white vinegar to defuse odors.
- Clean your washer and dryer. In 2012 I got a front-load HE washer, and I’ve regretted it ever since. These models are prone to mold and mildew issues, and even if you can’t see it, believe me, it’s there. I’ve taken to cleaning my washer monthly by running a bleach load, washing the rubber ring and soap holder, emptying some gadget at the bottom, and then running another basket clean load with a special cleaning soap. When it comes to your dryer, clean the lint trap after every load, and in addition, regularly clean out your dryer vent to allow moisture to properly escape.
- Choose your laundry detergent wisely. Some detergents contain dyes and perfumes which can cause rashes and asthma. Choosing fragrance-free options, making your own detergent and fabric softener, limiting the amount of detergent you use, and adding an extra rinse can also help.
- You can always use A Cleaner World to dry clean or professionally wet clean your clothing to help combat these problems as well.
If you’ve experimented with any of these tips and have had success (or even failed but learned something), please share your findings with us on Facebook or Twitter. We’d love to hear from you.