Think it’s OK to skip cleaning the house? A recent study revealing that almost all U.S. homes contain at least one problematic allergen might just change your mind.
The report, which was the nation’s largest indoor allergen study to date, looked at dust samples from bedroom floors in nearly 70,000 homes.
“What they found was, close to 100 percent ― 99 percent of individuals ― had at least one of eight common allergens in their home. And up to 70 percent actually had three or more in their homes,” says allergist Sandra Hong, MD.
A dirty look inside
Researchers studied eight common allergens: cat, dog, cockroach, mouse, rat, mold and two types of dust mites.
They found that homes with animals and pests were most likely to have more than one allergen present, as were older homes, rental homes, mobile homes and homes in rural areas.
Why it matters
Dr. Hong did not take part in the research, but says the findings are important to people who have asthma and allergies, as exposure to these irritants can put them at higher risk for infections and asthma attacks.
To keep symptoms under control, she says it’s essential to cut down on the amount of allergens in the home ― particularly in the bedroom where you breathe them in all night long.
“One common way to do it is actually to get dust mite covers around your bed,” Dr. Hong says. “Do lots of vacuuming, especially on upholstered furniture and also in the bedrooms and carpeting. If you can go carpet-free, that definitely can help.”
Other ways to fight back
Dr. Hong also recommends frequently washing bed linens in hot water and drying them using the hot setting.
If your children have stuffed animals in their beds, wash them in hot water once a week. Or put them in the freezer in a plastic bag to kill off any potential allergens.
Complete results of the study can be found in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.