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Cleaning and allergies

Asthma is a debilitating condition on the rise among children, and keeping your home clean can reduce symptomsAsthma is a debilitating and increasingly common illness, but how does cleaning your home affect the symptoms of asthma or allergies? We look at how it can help.

Asthma reduces the quality of life for millions of people, and it's much more common than it used to be, especially among children.

A complex condition

The causes of asthma, and why it's more common now, are not well understood, but a whole range of factors are probably involved.

Genetics, diet, lifestyle and the environment we live in are probably involved in causing or triggering asthma, and may also play a role in its increasing prevalence.

Everyone experiences the condition differently, and the underlying causes, symptoms and triggers of asthma, as well as how they respond to treatment, are all different for each individual.

Cleaning helps control symptoms

People with allergic asthma suffer periodic attacks, which can be triggered by variety of different things, from pollen to pets and house dust mites to mould. As well as using medication to control symptoms, they often find that controlling the triggers is a way of avoiding frequent attacks. 

So keeping the home and other surroundings clean can be very helpful.

  • Prevent mold spores by clean damp areas in the bath, kitchen and around the house to keep spores from developing. 
  • If you have a pet, reduce pet dander by having your pets bathed regularly may reduce the amount of dander in your surroundings. 
  • Laundering can help remove house dust mites from sheets, pillowcases and duvets.
  • Cleaning can similarly help control other types of allergy with similar triggers, such as hay fever. If you're likely to stir up dust, wear a mask or have someone else do the cleaning.

Being 'too clean' is not to blame

It's sometimes said that asthma and allergies have risen because we've become 'too clean', and no longer encounter enough bugs to keep our immune systems properly tuned. This is the unfortunately named 'hygiene hypothesis'. While it's possible that some change since the days when we lived mainly lived on farms and around animals is a factor, there is no evidence that we need to get infected to get protected or that allergies are rising because we're overdoing hygiene.

Some people find that smells in the home, including from some cleaning products, can make symptoms worse or help trigger an attack. But the evidence doesn't support the idea that the cleaning products you use at home can cause asthma, nor that they are a factor in the rise in allergies.

Myth Busters

Did you know the facts behind this common myth?

Myth: It doesn’t make much difference whether my laundry load is full or not

Fact: Only 49% of wash loads are fully loaded in Europe. If all loads were washed full, 715 million litres of water a day would be saved – the equivalent water used by 5 million people, or a city the size of Barcelona.

UKCPI cleansmart guide

A handwashing and cleanliness programme for Infant Groups.

Download now
10% discount for UKCPI members with the code UKCPI17
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