Get your mop and bucket, it’s time for some spring cleaning.
Are you experiencing allergy symptoms and are wondering if the environment at home is the problem? Or maybe you already know that you have a mould allergy, and want to be proactive in managing your symptoms.
Allow me to walk you through what a mould allergy really is, how to manage your allergy and what you can do at home.
First, what exactly is mould?
Mould is a fungus which reproduces by spores. They travel in the air when the weather is dry, windy, dewy, or foggy. Depending on the type of mould, they reproduce at different speeds and enter different parts of our bodies, like our ear1.
In other words, it does not take much to come into contact with mould. However, there is a lot that you can do to manage your mould allergy. Let's go!
How can I minimize my outdoor mould exposure?
So of course, you can't hide away in your house from mould forever. But you can do a few things to keep your fungus allergy at bay, such as:
- Avoiding the outdoors when there are a lot of spores in the air if you can
- Wearing a dust mask if you need to take care of your plants
What can I do to reduce mould exposure in my house?
Mould spores can get into your home in two ways:
- It can blow in from outside through open windows and doors.
- Or it can grow in your house (wallpaper, drywall, fabric, carpet, insulation, upholstered furniture)
Firstly, we will address what you should do about the mould in your entire house:
- Get a HEPA filter as these filters trap spores better than stand-alone air cleaners. Alternatively, you can also get those devices that use heat electrostatic ions or ozone to treat the air.
- Consider investing in a dehumidifier. Humidity levels below 35% can effectively fight mould in your home.
- Clean your air conditioning units and dehumidifiers frequently
- Change your fluid reservoir, clean collection buckets and condensation coil of your dehumidifier
- Service your air- conditioners on time and pay special attention to mould removal from your filters and anywhere it may be lurking within your unit.
- Use ceiling fans to circulate the air in your home
- Move your furniture off your walls since this tends to encourage mould growth
- Repair leaks in your roof and gutters so that water does not soak your ceiling tiles
- Remove old leaves in your gutters so water does not accumulate
- Be vigilant regarding moisture in laundry, basement and bathroom
If you really want to get rid of mould in your home, you will have to do it room by room.
Each room requires a specific course of action. So, let’s take them in turn.
You can reduce moisture and mould growth in your kitchen by making some simple adjustments:
- Use your exhaust fan when you are washing your dishes or cooking
- Clean your garbage bins regularly, I recommend at least once a week
- Wipe your refrigerator door gaskets once a week since the mould tends to accumulate here
- Empty and wash your fridge drip pan regularly, it is often forgotten. Out of sight, out of mind.
- Repair any leaky faucets
Moisture is an excellent breeding ground2 for fungus, and unfortunately it is almost impossible not to have moisture in bathrooms. However, there’s a lot you can do to minimize moisture.
- Move your carpets and rugs from areas where they are constantly soaked
- Use tiles in your bathroom
- Open a window or use an exhaust fan when you take a shower or have a bath
- Clean your tiles and grout around your bathroom sink, tub and between your shower tiles regularly since mould tends to grow there. I recommend it at least twice a month.
- Use bathroom cleaners that are specially designed to eliminate mould
- As always make sure all plumbing leaks are addressed
Mould likes to lurk in laundry rooms, so you need to seek it out and address it post-haste to prevent a fungus allergy.
- Don't leave damp clothes in your washing machine; move them to your dryer or clotheslines promptly
- Clean the front rubber seal if you have a front-load machine since that's where water tends to accumulate. This should be done weekly!
- Leave your washing machine door open so that it can air dry
- A well-ventilated laundry room also helps prevent mould growth
It is especially important to prevent mould from growing in your bedroom since this is where you sleep. Try the following:
- Use a waterproof mattress cover
- Use a hypoallergenic mattress
- Remove all old sheets, books and newspapers from your bedroom
- Wipe away any condensation that has accumulated on windows and windowsills
- Open your windows if the weather allows
- Leave closets open so that air can circulate within them
If you have a basement at home, don’t ignore that section either - this area of your house is usually a paradise for mould.
- Design your drainage so that water is diverted away from your house
- Remove all leaves that are around your property's foundation
- Attend to all leaks in your basement as soon as possible
If you systematically deal with mould in your environment, you should see significant improvement in the symptoms of your mould allergy.
I hope the tips above are able to provide some relief. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out.
- Baxi SN, Portnoy JM, Larenas-Linnemann D, Phipatanakul W; Environmental Allergens Workgroup. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2016 May-Jun;4(3):396-404. doi: 10.1016/j.jaip.2016.01.008. Epub 2016 Mar 3. PMID: 26947460
- Sahakian NM, Park JH, Cox-Ganser JM. Immunol Allergy Clin North Am. 2008 Aug;28(3):485-505, vii. doi: 10.1016/j.iac.2008.03.009. PMID: 18572103
This article was written and medically reviewed by Dr Ben, M.D on 19/11/21