Clothing Care for the Allergy Sufferer
Doesn’t it seem like every year over the past three or so years, has been called, “the worst season yet for allergies”? If you are an allergy sufferer, you probably agree that each consecutive year seems to feel worse than the one before. You’re nowhere near being alone. Many people suffer from allergic reactions throughout the entire year, not just for the season.
Over 50 million people in the U.S. alone are affected by nasal allergies. Skin allergies affect approximately 9.5 million American children. Depending on what irritates your allergies, you could have a negative reaction from anything around you. Or even anything on you.
It’s possible that for some people, the very clothes on their back could be causing their allergies to act up. The fibers on clothing are a catch-all for some of the peskiest allergens out there: animal dander, dust mites, pollen from ragweed, grass, and trees, and dyes, perfumes, and chemicals used in treating the clothes. Or the clothing itself could be causing the allergy. Ever wear a wool sweater that made you itch the whole day or a latex dress that caused a rash? Not fun.
Learning what causes your allergy problems is the key to preventing and managing them. An allergy test is always a good starting point in identifying key triggers. An allergy test will help you discover what substances cause reactions in your body, and which fabrics or raw materials you should avoid. Otherwise, you are at risk of finding out through trial and error, which is how most of us learn of our allergies.
As for keeping the microscopic mayhem off of your clothing, it may be a bit more work, but keeping the allergens at bay is worth it if you suffer from allergies! Although it would be impossible to avoid them completely, you can follow some key steps to prevent them as much as possible.
- Always wash clothes at least once after buying and before wearing or mixing into your closet. This is something that you should do even if you don’t have allergies. When you buy a new piece of clothing, you can never be sure of what you are taking home with it. Clothing manufacturers have been known to coat their clothing in formaldehyde to prevent wrinkling in stores. This is not only toxic, but can cause major skin irritation. Dyes used to color the clothing can also aggravate skin allergies. If you know you are sensitive to these additives, you may want to wash your clothes twice before wearing. Another reason (and this is a big one) for washing your newly purchased clothes: bugs. Little creatures like lice and scabies can actually be transmitted by clothing if recently tried on by someone who was playing host to these pests. I bet you will remember that next time you’re in the dressing room…
- Don’t line-dry your clothes. If you suffer from allergies, wearing those freshly line-dried clothes is just as bad as taking a whiff of those beautiful flowers. Pollen, animal dander, and mold spores travel through the air and attach themselves to whatever gets in their way. Those shirts and sheets hanging on that line are like big fishing nets, just waiting to catch some allergens. Sorry, but you will have to make do with machine-dried, or consider making space indoors for a folding clothes rack that you can use for drying.
- Wash your clothes (and bedding) in the hottest water possible. Water temperature over 130 degrees Fahrenheit is necessary to kill dust mites and wash away allergens. If you can’t get your home water temperature this high, it may be best to use a dry cleaner as they typically use hotter temperatures.
- If you spend your day outside, remove your clothing when you get home and place it in a laundry basket outside of your bedroom, or just throw it in the wash immediately. Try to keep your clothing worn outside isolated from your clean clothes and the rest of your house as pollen, dander, and the like can be attached to them.
- When cleaning your closet, wear a dust mask to help keep those allergens out of your system. Even if your closet is closed off, allergens can creep their way in and settle there.
- Lastly, sign up at sites like www.pollen.com for daily updates on pollen counts. It is better to revolve your schedule around this if you can, rather than trying to suffer through the high count days.