Hidden dangers hiding in your upholstery: Experts reveal harmful bugs living in YOUR home
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The cold dark November evenings have arrived, leading many of us to spend the night cosied up on the sofa with soft cushions and blankets. While cleaning stains and dirt from soft furnishings is a no brainer, few of us stop to think about the harmful bacteria that we can’t see – but what dangerous germs could be lurking in your upholstery? Express.co.uk spoke to upholstery cleaning expert Dean Davies and airborne allergens expert Max Wiseberg to find out.
How dirty is your upholstery?
While you can’t throw a sofa in the washing machine, there are plenty of ways to kill lurking microbes and fend off household bugs like dust mites from soft furnishings.
While regular vacuuming is recommended, cleaning experts say we should do more to tackle harmful microorganisms living on porous fabrics like cotton, nylon and polyester.
Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, Fantastic Services upholstery cleaning expert, Dean Davies said: “Your soft furnishings are a breeding ground for bacteria and other harmful microorganisms.
“They can cause health risks since these organisms are released into the environment every time someone sits on your furniture.
“By cleaning your upholstery regularly you’ll get rid of mould, dust, mildew and allergens.”
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These microorganisms can survive longer on porous fabrics such as cotton, nylon, and polyester as well as some plastics.
Sofas, carpets, rugs, cushions, bedding and throws can be particularly susceptible to hosting harmful microbes which could trigger allergies or illness.
Dean added: “Unfortunately for anyone susceptible to allergies or who have asthma, dust mites are one of the most common triggers for asthma attacks.
“They are incredibly tiny, so they can enter the respiratory system and irritate it. The shed skins can be inhaled by us, irritating the airways, as well.”
Mould spores found on food scraps and crumbs can also cause allergy-like symptoms, as well as asthmatic reactions.
What could be living in your soft furnishings?
We can be spending a third of our lives in bed with between 100,000 to 10 million dust mites, according to Environment, Health & Safety Online, with almost 100,000 dust mites in one square metre of carpet, says allergens expert Max Wiseberg.
There are a whole host of mites and microbes that could be triggering an allergic or flu-like reaction after a few days snuggled into the cushions of your sofa this winter.
Max said: “All homes in the UK have dust mites, but due to their tiny size (around 1/4mm) and translucent bodies, they are almost invisible to the naked eye.
“Cold-like symptoms such as a runny nose and sinus pain mean that many people believe they have a ‘winter cold’ when their symptoms are a result of spending more time inside amongst dust allergens than in the summer.”
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Tiny critters like dust mites love humid, warm places where humans shed their skin cells and sweat, so your home provides the perfect environment.
Max added: “A dust mite allergy is in fact a reaction to proteins in the excretion of the dust mites.
“Yes, that’s right, you’re allergic to dust mite poo!”
Germs can be transferred to sofas and armchairs which then lay dormant until a suitable host picks them up.
Dean said: “There are many types of viruses and bacteria that can live on your soft surfaces, such as MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), VRE (vancomycin-resistant enterococcus), HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) and influenza.
“Last but not least – bed bugs.”
How to manage household allergens
No home is 100 percent allergen-free but there are some simple ways to minimise the effects of the allergens around you.
Create your own dust allergy first aid kit
Keep antihistamine, nasal spray and eye drops on hand for dust allergies.
Max added: “The interesting thing about this is that many of these remedies can be complementary to each other. So if one helps, but doesn’t do the whole job, you may be able to try other remedies at the same time and get a better result.
“But there are rules: never take two antihistamines together, never take two steroid nasal sprays together, and consult your pharmacist or doctor if you are already taking any other medication.”
Clean your upholstery regularly
The soft surfaces in your living room, such as cushions, rugs and sofas make it easy for harmful, contagious germs to live and thrive, says Dean.
To reduce the population of germs, you should frequently wash and sanitize your upholstery, especially if you have young children or pets.
It may also be beneficial to install allergy-friendly flooring and to consider using an air filter/purifier with a HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Arresting) filter to capture the dust particles, says Max.
- Wash bedding regularly (once a week)
- Use allergy-friendly mattress covers and bedding
- Keep cuddly toys and blankets in a cupboard to prevent the build-up of allergens on them
- Vacuum the house regularly, especially beds and fabrics to remove dust allergens
- Dampen surfaces before dusting so that allergens are not redistributed into the air
Dust mites thrive in moist environments, so keep the humidity in your house between 40 percent and 20 percent to control allergens.
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