As my fiancé and I embark on the exciting adventure of building our own home, I have been thinking about the steps my parents took to asthma-proof the house I grew up in.
It’s no surprise that our homes are often filled with asthma triggers. According to The Asthma Society of Ireland, dust, animal dander, mould, air quality, and furnishings are just some of the items that can trigger asthma symptoms at home.
My siblings and I experienced asthma as children, so our parents worked hard to manage the possible triggers in our family home. I often found myself suffering from asthma symptoms when I stayed away from home, which is a good sign that the measures my parents took to asthma-proof our home were effective.
Tips for a trigger-free home
To prepare myself for moving in, I spoke to my mother about the changes she felt were necessary in our home.
Eliminate dust and dust mites
Dust mites are tiny creatures that feed off the dead skin cells we shed. As you can imagine, dust mites are especially attracted to our bed sheets. This year, we invested in anti-allergy bed sheets to try and combat dust and dust mites from accumulating in our beds. We also wash our bed clothes weekly and ensure that our rooms are well ventilated and vacuumed regularly. Asthma.ie recommends that sheets, duvets and pillow cases should be washed weekly, at 60 degrees Celsius.
Swap carpets for wooden floors
As young children, we had carpets in our bedrooms and the living rooms. My parents gradually removed the carpets from the house and replaced them with wooden floors. In comparison to the carpets, we found the wooden flooring much easier to keep clean and the dust didn’t accumulate as much as it had before. This is certainly something I will be taking into consideration as we choose the furnishings for our new home.
Buy a high-quality vacuum
Investing in a high-quality vacuum cleaner is also something I will do when our house is built. Dusting and vacuuming were chores I happily avoided as a child. In fact, my mother never wanted me to do these chores as she knew they could expose me to too much dust and could trigger my asthma symptoms. I have since invested in a face mask with an air filter that I wear when carrying out those dusty jobs!
Try an air purifier
I have recently placed an air purifier in my bedroom. Over the summer when pollen levels were high, I used the air purifier to freshen the air in my bedroom. I also use the air purifier in winter to help reduce dust levels and other pollutants in the air. I have found this to be a very useful resource in reducing my asthma symptoms, particularly at night.
As we are building our new home, I am living in my parent’s house. At 27, I have accumulated many belongings including clothes, memory boxes, college notes, and resources for work. I have outgrown my bedroom and my possessions have slowly filtered out of my bedroom and into the attic space and my sister’s old wardrobe!
The benefit of this has been that, due to the lack of space, I have had to carry out many clear outs over the years. The build-up of clutter and unnecessary items in my bedroom made it more difficult to clean, and dust built up quickly in the areas where my belongings were stored. As a result, I try hard to keep clutter to a minimum so that I can reduce dust gathering in my bedroom. I hope to continue this habit in my new home.
Avoid strong chemicals and fumes
In the Asthma Society of Ireland’s Asthma Friendly Homes Leaflet, it states that bleach, polishes and air fresheners can all cause asthma symptoms and can lead to asthma attacks.
Our home has an array of cleaning products, from disinfectant to furniture polish. Not only do these products have a strong smell, but they also often come in spray or aerosol bottles that are easily inhaled when they are sprayed too close to the face. Aerosol sprays including deodorant often catch my breath when they are sprayed. I try to avoid inhaling these fumes by covering my mouth or leaving the room and getting some fresh air.
The Asthma Friendly Homes Leaflet also suggests some asthma-friendly cleaning alternatives. Rather than using sprays or aerosols, the leaflet recommends using liquid or solid cleaners. These type of cleaning agents can be applied directly to the surface, so helps to avoid any potential inhalation of fumes often caused by sprays and aerosols. The leaflet also suggests using natural cleaning products like warm water, vinegar, lemon, and baking soda, as well as to look out for ‘allergy-friendly’ labels on cleaning products. It is also important to keep areas well ventilated, especially while cleaning.