That tightness in your chest, a wheeze, shortness of breath and a dry, irritating, persistent cough are the tell-tale signs that may have asthma or allergies. Avoid these symptoms by keeping your house spick, span and even sparkling! Here are our top tips to naturally fight allergies and asthma. Bust the dust!
Eco sheen swoon
Asthma is caused by an inflammation of the airways, which is often exacerbated by the home environment, especially dust and mould.
Yet the drudgery of a household cleaning routine, with the strong odours and chemicals of cleaning products, can exacerbate your symptoms. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are often released by household products.
A European study showed that conventional spray products – even if only used weekly – can increase the risk of developing asthma symptoms and the need for asthma medication. Solid and liquid solutions are great. Embracing a clean, green home is your best battle tactic against asthma and allergies.
It’s perfectly cool to go old school and make homemade concoctions out of vinegar, bicarbonate of soda and amazing liquid castile soap as we’ve highlighted before.
The convenient method is of course to go for non-toxic, natural cleaning products that are as kind to you as they are to the planet. Carefully check the ingredients label of the products you intend to use. We highly recommend fragrance-free options for allergy sufferers.
Top Tip: Delegate household tasks to someone less likely to end up in a wheezing fit.
Care for your home air
The air quality in your home affects your lungs. Banish cigarette smoke indoors and avoid incense, scented products and wood fires if you want to breathe easy. Aerosols for personal care and cleaning are also big danger zones for asthma sufferers.
Think about ventilation, particularly in the kitchen over gas hobs, as well as in the bathroom.
You might consider buying an air cleaner with a HEPA – or high efficiency particulate air – filter. Whilst air ionisers can reduce allergens by purifying the air, research suggests they can increase asthmatic symptoms so they’re generally not recommended.
Top Tip: Want a sweet smelling abode? Deodorize smelly drains with bicarbonate of soda and white vinegar and use a chemical-free smell killer for your toilets.
Whether you’re a proud urbanite or prefer the rural chic lifestyle, open your windows after 10am to get your daily dose of fresh air as most high pollen counts occur in the wee small hours of the morning.
Date your dust
Dust mites, those pesky microscopic bugs that dance around in your household dust, are known triggers for asthma. Mites love feasting on shedded human skin cells. They find their nest in fabrics, upholstered furnishings, carpets and rugs. Their favourite hideaway is usually in your bedding as they thrive in damp, warm conditions.
Don’t sweep the issue under the carpet. Avoid using a humidifier as high humidity attracts the teeny fellas. Instead, have a regular, meaningful date with your dust. This means dodging nasty acaricides, the conventional pesticide formulas that kill dust mites. It’s a labour of love, but a worthwhile one, we promise.
Use a damp cloth for all aerial cleaning and horizontal surfaces such as window ledges and stair banisters. A slightly damp E-cloth that uses millions of tiny fibres to clean instead of chemicals does a sterling job.
You might wish to switch any dust-hoarding horizontal blinds with vertical window coverings.
Top Tip: When you are cleaning be sure to change your bucket of water regularly. Once you have finished, leave the house so that you don’t expose yourself to any allergens that get kicked up in the air.
Stick on your favourite tunes and get the vacuum out once or twice a week. It’s a bonus if your vacuum cleaner has a HEPA filter in it.
For bedding, opt for synthetic materials or washable cotton instead of feathers or down pillows. Wash your bedlinen on a hot water wash every week. Now for some pillow talk! Change your pillows every year.
Stick on some removable and washable mite-proof covers onto your bedding and you’ll give your lungs some breathing space. Give your mattress a vacuum attack once a year too. Simple.
Onto that soft toy collection. Why not periodically put your (child’s) favourite teddy in a bag and freeze it? This disinfects the toy as dust mites aren’t into cryotherapy.
Discover Zen again
We all have piles of stuff lurking around. Chuck it away or find a real home for it. Not under the bed or on the top of your wardrobe as that’s where unnecessary dust collects. We’ve just given you a bona fide reason for recycling those unwanted gifts with your local charity shop!
Keep your home knick-knacks to the bare minimum. Bookworms beware: old books can harbour dust and mould so ask yourself if you really need to keep that dog-eared novel. Green-fingered folks might want to think twice before creating an indoor jungle in your house. Household plant soil encourages mildew.
Chipboard and MDF furniture can also indulge asthma symptoms, so when you’re replacing old furniture, select them with care. The same goes for pets. Consider a less fluffy creature, like a tortoise!
Flirt with your feet
Have a love affair with your feet and make your home a no-shoe zone. You’ll avoid trudging in extra dirt and pollutants.
Whilst you’re at it, think about bidding adieu to your carpets and rugs. Ceramic and hardwood floors are much healthier options. If you’re on a tight budget, then opt for the cheaper cousin, linoleum. Hard flooring is much easier to clean and reduces the need for heavy carpet shampooing sessions that can make allergies worse.
If you miss that extra padding on your toes, then use sea grass, jute or sisal carpets and rugs as their fibres don’t easily get attached to allergens and can be washed with a damp cloth.
Never romance mildew
Mould and mildew are microscopic plant-like organisms that are nasty to inhale for everyone.
You’ll especially find mould in damp areas like bathrooms, basements and utility areas. Even when you’re naked you might discover it on your shower curtain. Don’t entertain it.
Ensure your spaces are well-ventilated and install extractor fans. If you do have mould then switch on your fan during and after you’ve finished in the bathroom. Check and fix any leaky pipes and faucets, as well as the downpipes from your roof.
When you redecorate, remove old wallpaper and instead use a mould-resistant paint on your walls.
Remove mould by using a good natural cleaning product. Tea tree oil works a treat. Be thorough so that you don’t send spores swirling into the air.
Fridges also invite mould. Store all your food in sealed containers and gobble it up before use-by dates. Remove moisture from your fridge and give it a regular clean with a non-abrasive, chemical-free cream cleaner.
Need more inspiration? Discover a wonderful range of eco cleaning products at BigGreenSmile.com
Remember: Seek medical assistance and personal advice from your GP about your asthma and allergy concerns.