How to Do Laundry to Reduce Indoor Allergens

Basket with laundry and detergents
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If you or anyone in your household has allergies, how you handle your laundry can greatly affect indoor allergies.

Learn laundry tips that will help reduce allergens and are good practices for everyone.

  • 01 of 06

    Control Dust Mites to Reduce Allergies

    dust mites
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    Dust mites and their droppings are known allergens. And they are everywhere in our homes where there are fabrics and fibers. It takes hot water and frequent washing to keep the mites under control.

    We spend a huge part of our day in the bedroom so keeping bed linens clean and dust free is particularly important for those with allergies. Learn how to care for everything from mattress pads to pillows to quilts.

    Of course, it's nearly impossible to wash a mattress and box springs or soft upholstered furniture. For those pieces, try a fabric allergen sanitizer vacuum (Raycop is a brand name). These vacuums use ultraviolet light to kill dust mites and bacteria and then a dual filtration system to eliminate the 99.9% of the offenders from fabric surfaces.

  • 02 of 06

    Control Mold & Mildew in the Laundry Room and Your Closets

    laundry mold
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    The prevention and removal of mold and mildew is important whether it is growing in your laundry room or in your closet or laundry hamper. Not only can it cause breathing problems for those with allergies and asthma, it can also destroy walls, clothes and shoes.

    Laundry rooms can frequently harbor mold due to a leaky washer (even a small leak) or poor air circulation. It doesn't take long for mold to begin growing and it should be removed as soon as possible to reduce your family's exposure and it prevent structural damage.

    High humidity in closets or storage areas can cause mold to grow on leather shoes and purses and on clothing. The mold is attracted to soiled areas - food stains and body soil - that encourages growth. Follow these tips to remove mildew and mold from fabrics and leather goods.

    Tossing damp clothes or towels into a hamper can cause terrible sour odors and begin mildew growth. The key to remove those odors is to get towels really clean (use hot water!) and use distilled white vinegar or baking soda to neutralize odors.

  • 03 of 06

    Clean Your Washer and Dryer to Reduce Allergies

    dryer lint screen
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    It is important to clean your washer and dryer frequently to prevent and reduce indoor allergens.

    Washers, especially front load models, can harbor mold and mildew on gaskets and hoses. If you don't see the mold (it may be behind a door gasket) you will certainly smell it and if you don't clean the washer, your clothes will have the same odor. Front load washers should be cleaned monthly and it is very important to limit the use of excess detergent and fabric softener that act as food for the mildew growth. Standard and high-efficiency top load washers should also be cleaned regularly.

    The key to keeping your clothes dryer from becoming an allergy-inducing machine is to clean it regularly. Vented dryers pull the moisture out of our clothes and should send it to escape out an outside vent. However, if that vent is clogged, mildew can grow and worse, a fire may ignite. Clean the dryer lint trap after every load and check dryer vents often for your health and safety.

    Non-vented dryers use a compressor and a collection bin to hold moisture drawn out of fabrics. These bins must be emptied often and cleaned to prevent the growth of mold.

  • 04 of 06

    Select Laundry Products Carefully to Reduce Allergies

    Woman choosing fabric softener
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    By using laundry products - detergents, fabric softeners, dryer sheets - like all free clear that are free of dyes and fragrances, you will reduce the chances of contact dermatitis, chemical sensitivity and asthma.

    You may wish to eliminate commercial products and make your own laundry products and incorporate natural ingredients like distilled white vinegar and baking soda into your laundry routine.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Handle Pet Bedding Correctly to Reduce Indoor Allergies

    pet bed
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    Pet dander can cause allergy problems. So taking care of pet bedding and clothes like sweaters and jackets correctly is important not only for the health of the animal but for your health as well. 

  • 06 of 06

    Reduce Outside Allergens by Handling Laundry Correctly

    outdoor allergies
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    Outdoor allergens like pollen, chemicals and dust come in the house on our clothes. Learn how to remove those problems in the laundry. One suggestion to reduce introducing these allergens into your home is to shed your clothing in the mud room or garage to prevent allergens coming into the living area.

    While most of us love the scent and feel of clothes dried in the sunshine, those clothes and linens also bring in allergens during high pollen count days. If you suffer from outdoor allergens, skip the clothes line and opt for an indoor drying rack or use the dryer.

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  1. Ong, Kee-Hean, et al. Inactivation of Dust Mites, Dust Mite Allergen, and Mold from Carpet. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, vol. 11, no. 8, 2014, pp. 519–527., doi:10.1080/15459624.2014.880787

  2. Lah, Ernieenor Faraliana Che et al. Effect of Germicidal UV-C light(254 nm) on Eggs and Adult of House Dustmites, Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus and Dermatophagoides farinae (Astigmata: Pyroglyhidae). Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine vol. 2,9 (2012): 679-83. doi:10.1016/S2221-1691(12)60209-3

  3. Mendell, Mark J., et al. Respiratory and Allergic Health Effects of Dampness, Mold, and Dampness-Related Agents: A Review of the Epidemiologic Evidence. Environmental Health Perspectives, vol. 119, no. 6, 2011, pp. 748–756., doi:10.1289/ehp.1002410

  4. Mold. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  5. Clothes Dryer Fire Safety Outreach Materials. U.S. Fire Administration.

  6. Bai, Heidi, et al. Contact Allergens in Top-Selling Textile-Care Products. Dermatitis, vol. 31, no. 1, 2020, pp. 53–58., doi:10.1097/der.0000000000000566

  7. Ownby, Dennis, and Christine Cole Johnson. Recent Understandings of Pet Allergies. F1000Research, vol. 5, 2016, p. 108., doi:10.12688/f1000research.7044.1