With glistening linoleum or tile floors, shiny porcelain sinks and tubs, and glass shower doors, bathroom surfaces don't make for prime dust-mite habitat. Instead, other tenants take over, namely mold and cockroaches, both of whom love the steamy warmth. (If you have carpeting or throw rugs in the bathroom, then add dust mites back into the picture.) This section explores the tactics you can employ to make an allergy-proof bathroom.
Tips for an Allergen-Free Bathroom
Minimizing moisture is of prime importance. Exhaust fans or open windows help reduce condensation, as can manually removing moisture by wiping dry the shower and sink area after use.
Here are more bathroom basics:
- Use waterproof wallpaper, or better yet, paint all bathroom walls. Mold may grow underneath wallpaper.
- Install easy-to-clean tile as the perfect backsplash for sinks and tubs.
- Wash shower curtains once a month or purchase curtains that contain an antifungal agent. Shower curtains are notorious as havens for mold.
- Look down into your toothbrush holder! There's gross stuff down there in the form of molds, encrusted toothpaste, and scum. Wash, rinse, and dry these neglected containers every time you scrub the sink.
- Use soap, water, and a brush to clean surfaces that mold may enjoy. However, soap won't kill existing mold; you'll have to use a mold-killing cleaning product. Keep the room well-ventilated while cleaning, and rinse surfaces well.
- Whenever showering, make it a habit to turn on the exhaust fan or open a window to remove moisture.
- Remove wall-to-wall carpeting from the bathroom. If there's one room that shouldn't have carpet, it's the bathroom.
- Wash bath towels regularly in hot water.
- If you're a bathroom "reader," rotate the reading stock and remove old magazines and newspapers. With a little moisture and nice, dark pages to hide between, mold spores thrive.
Bothersome Bathroom Products
Products stored in the bathroom (or nearby) can pose problems for people susceptible to skin allergies or with respiratory sensitivities. Here are some ways to avoid or limit contact with potential allergens/irritants:
- Bleach. Cleaning agents, including bleach and bleach-containing products, should be avoided by those with skin and respiratory sensitivities. Wear gloves and a vapor mask if you must use them, keep the room well-ventilated, and consider a more "natural" approach to cleaning, using baking soda, vinegar, natural soap, and water.
- Nickel. This metal is one of the most common causes of contact dermatitis. As we sweat, our perspiration dissolves the nickel, the skin absorbs it, and out pops a rash. About 10 percent of the population suffers from nickel sensitivity. Nickel-containing products are easily overlooked, but they are touched or used daily. They include some mascaras, eye shadows, and eyeliners; snaps and other fasteners; belt buckles; bra clips; metal eyeglass frames; thimbles; zippers; and coins. The jewelry box, with its wealth of earrings, bracelets, rings, and necklaces, is a gold mine for potential irritants. While all of these might not be in your bathroom, they're certainly nearby.
- Lotions and Potions. In our need to look and smell good, we bathe with and cover ourselves with perfumed soaps and shampoos, aftershaves, perfumes, antiperspirants, face creams, hair dyes, cosmetics, and oils. There's no need to stop using all of them, but to avoid developing skin sensitivities purchase shampoos, lotions, and creams that are fragrance- and dye-free and buy sunscreen that is PABA-free.
- Formaldehyde. Exposure to formaldehyde occurs in the bathroom via some products you'd never expect. Many cosmetics and toiletries use preservatives that break down to formaldehyde, including bubble baths, some deodorants, hair dyes, nail hardeners, permanent wave lotions, hair thickeners, talc and powders, shampoo and conditioners, certain skin cleaners, and waterless hand cleaners. Read labels and look for formaldehyde or preservatives releasing formaldehyde such as quaternium 15, imidazolidine urea, and diazolidinyl urea.
Like the bathroom, your kitchen can feature a lot of porcelain and tile. But keeping it allergy-free requires a different approach. Tactics for keeping allergens out of your kitchen are covered in the next section.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.