Sick and tired of waking up with itchy eyes and a runny nose? Don't fret - you're not the only person worried they're allergic to their bed! According to a report conducted by the NHS, your home isn't always the comforting oasis it's supposed to be with between 10-20% of the UK's population suffering from indoor allergies caused by snooze-snatching nasties like dust mites, pollen and mould spores and unfortunately, your bedroom is one of the worst offenders for harbouring lurking irritants.
Luckily, sleeping in a spacesuit isn't the only answer to breathing easy at night. Read on as we clear the air on allergens, providing you with the know-how needed to kick these harmful pests out of bed for good just by making a few hassle-free changes.
How to Get Rid of Dust Mites
No matter how much of a stickler you are for cleanliness, every home plays host to these microscopic creatures. Their tiny civilisations thrive best in warm, damp, cushy surfaces like mattresses or bedding where they can feed off our dead skin cells and gather moisture from our sweat and exhaled breath. Yuk! And while they're virtually impossible to get rid of completely, you can take steps to minimise your exposure to their allergens. You see, it's not the dust mites themselves that make you sniffle and sneeze, but the debris from their poop and decaying body bits. Double yuk.
Here are a few tips to help you banish the bugs:
- Hoover often, getting into all those tricky corners, and consider upgrading to a HEPA filter vacuum cleaner, there are plenty to choose from, including household favourites like Dyson, Kenmore and even robotic Roombas. These super-duper dust-busters trap even most minuscule particles as soon they're sucked up rather than circulating them back into the air like regular vacuumers.
- Keep things simple and cut back on clutter, especially the bits and pieces you're hiding under your bed as these forgotten areas are a real magnet for mites.
- Replace blinds and heavy, dry-clean-only drapes with light and breezy linen curtains that you can easily pop in the wash.
- Instead of using a feather duster to sweep the dust into the air, remove it thoroughly with a damp cloth.
- As much as you might love late-night snuggles from your furry friends, try to make your bedroom a pet-free zone because the additional dander they bring to your sleep sanctuary is just as tasty to dust mites as human skin.
- Sinking your toes into a sumptuously shaggy carpet certainly feels like bliss, but deep-pile carpets attract dust like nothing else. Instead, soften hardwood floors with washable rugs.
- Be lazy in the morning and leave your bed unmade. Throwing back the duvet and plumping your pillows allows any moisture to evaporate and gives you the perfect excuse for a lounge-about.
- Treat yourself to a restful night with hypoallergenic bedding. To ensure all of our duvets and pillows are suitable for allergy sufferers, items containing feather and down have NOMITE® and Downafresh® certification, meaning they exceed European standards of cleanliness and have tightly woven cases that are impenetrable to dust mites.
After all of your hard work, keep a handle on the wee beasties by laundering your bed linen every week on a 40-degree wash, and if you want to make doubly sure you've got rid of them, try popping your bedding in the freezer for a few hours - just be careful not to get frozen peas stuck to your sheets!
How to Stop Mould in Your Bedroom
While you might think mould only lingers in deep, dank caves and the mugs under your son's bed, this sneaky allergen could be lurking in all sorts of forgotten areas of your bedroom too, like your laundry basket or behind a wardrobe. Any damp spot provides a ripe environment for mould to grow, and once it's settled in, it spreads by releasing its fungal spores into the air. Not what you want to be breathing in during your nightly snooze.
To stymie the spread of mould and mildew:
- Maintain a healthy humidity level in your home. Although air that's too damp can cause mould to multiply, a dry atmosphere can also exacerbate allergy symptoms, irritating your eyes, nose and throat. Keep moisture levels in check (the sweet spot is between 30 and 50%) by splashing out on a dehumidifier and drying your washing outside or in a tumble dryer.
- Wipe away condensation when it gathers around windowsills and exterior door frames. If you do spy a damp spot, refrain from using bleach to remove it, as commercial bleach contains up to 90% water which will soak into a porous surface (like wood or drywall) and actually encourage mould to grow. Instead, stick to non-toxic cleaners, you'll be surprised at the wonders a little vinegar, lemon and baking soda can work.
- Purify your air and prettify your room with potted plants. Some of the best flora and fauna to reduce airborne toxins include chrysanthemums, Chinese evergreen and aloe vera, but be careful not to overwater them as excessive moisture can cause the soil to become mouldy.
- Ensure your bedroom has enough ventilation by moving furniture slightly away from the walls and keeping your door ajar to enable airflow circulation.
- Due to body sweat and other moisture, regularly give your mattress a good clean as it can be a top spot for mould to flourish. To freshen your mattress thoroughly, vacuum it while you've got the sheets in the wash, using the upholstery tool and pressing firmly to remove dirt hiding below the surface. Next, sprinkle a light layer of baking soda over the top to absorb any odours, let it sit for a few minutes, then hoover it up and make your bed. Also, try to sleep in a way that minimises the amount you sweat by, for example, investing in lightweight, breathable bedding or snoozing in the nude.
How to Rid Your Bedroom of Pollen
If you suffer from springtime sneezing, you're not always safest inside. Pollen is one of the most common allergens to make getting sweet dreams a nightmare with its powdery granules sticking to almost anything and floating into your home through doorways, open windows and even on clothing and animal fur. Even more bothersome, it's not the large, heavy particles that make your nose stream, but the teeny-tiny bits that are light enough to be airborne and inhaled without you even noticing.
Use these tricks to guard your bedroom against pollen:
- As tempting as it might be to crack open a window during the stifling summer months, try to keep them closed during periods of high pollen counts (typically first thing in the morning and early evening) and on windy days.
- After spending time outdoors, shower and slip into fresh pyjamas to prevent bringing pollen to bed. Also, if you use mousse or gel products, your hair can become a particularly potent trap for this irritant, so if you don't have time to wash your luscious locks every night, consider wearing a hat when you're out and about?
- Prevent this itchy plant powder from being traipsed through your home by leaving shoes at the front door and storing outerwear in a closed wardrobe or cloakroom. And, as your pets can't take off their coats, give them a quick brush down and wipe their paws before they can scamper off.
We hope these handy hints have helped everyone in your home breathe a little easier. However, if there is still the odd morning when you wake up in less than tip-top condition, a piping hot peppermint or stinging nettle tea is just the ticket for soothing sore throats and decongesting blocked noses. You can trust my Nana on that one. Let us know if you have any other helpful suggestions for saying adieu to allergy symptoms, we love hearing from you.