By Mirel Ketchiff
This article first appeared on the U.S.-version of SHAPE.com
Ah-choo! If you find yourself continuing to struggle with allergies even after cleaning your whole home, with symptoms like congestion and itchy eyes, it’s mould — not dust — that may be to blame. About one in four allergy sufferers, or 10 per cent of all people, are also sensitive to fungi (that’d be mould spores), according to the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Plus, it’s easy for mould to grow indoors. While you may already stay on top of high-risk areas (namely, places that are damp and dark, like your basement), fungi can thrive in three spaces you may not expect.
In Your Dishwasher
You’d think a cleaning appliance would be fungi-free, but no such luck. mould was found on the rubber seals of 62 per cent of tested dishwashers, according to a study of 189 machines from the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia. And 56 per cent of the washers contained at least one species of black yeast, which is known to be toxic to humans. (Eek!) To stay safe, leave the dishwasher door ajar after a cycle to ensure it completely dries out, or wipe down the seal with a dry cloth before shutting it. Also smart: avoiding putting dishes away when they’re still damp from the rinse cycle, especially if you use the flatware infrequently.
In Herbal Meds
When researchers analyzed 30 samples of plants that are used medicinally, like licorice root, they found mould on 90 per cent of the samples, according to a report in Fungal Biology. Additionally, 70 per cent had fungi levels exceeding what’s considered the ‘acceptable’ limit, and 31 per cent of the moulds identified had the potential to be harmful to humans. And since there are no concrete laws regulating the sale of medicinal plants, as of now there’s no surefire way to avoid the mouldy meds.
On Your Toothbrush
Okay, file this one under gross! Hollow-head electric toothbrushes may retain up to 3,000 times the bacterial and mould growth as solid-head options, according to a study from the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, so choose solid-head options when possible. (They’re not labeled as such, but you can distinguish by examining the head itself. Solid options will have a small space to attach to the body of the brush, but will otherwise be mostly one piece.) Also, avoid using airtight toothbrush covers, which causes the bristles to stay damp for longer, encouraging mould growth.