It’s just so easy to string up your wet socks in front of the heater at this time of year, right?
Or mindlessly pull the mini clothes line on the veranda inside before the clothes are fully dry?
Or maybe you just dry the whole wet load inside during winter because it rains all the damn time!
It turns out, these innocent practices may be turning your house into an unhealthy breeding ground.
Nick Osborne, Senior Lecturer in Environmental Health at the University of NSW is an expert in damp.
He told Kidspot that drying your clothes inside contributed to the potential growth of mould and dust mites, both of which are bad for your health.
Dr Osborne said the jury is out on whether a mouldy, damp house can actually trigger asthma in non-asthmatics, but for those with asthma it can trigger or worsen symptoms.
Dr Christine Cowie, a senior research fellow with the University of NSW, said that biological agents such as mould had a negative health impact.
“From a health perspective … many biological agents are found indoors and they usually thrive on dampness and inadequate ventilation. They have found that dampness itself has been a good indicator of risk of asthma and respiratory symptoms. There are other studies that show inhalation of fungal spores … are linked to allergic sensitisation and asthma,” she said.
And it turns out that wet washing is only the tip of the iceberg.
“As far as winter time goes, we’re all coming inside with wet coats and hanging them up and people are inside a lot more,” Dr Osborne said.
“Especially if there are a lot of people in a small dwelling. And add to that showers and cooking steam. If a house isn’t correctly ventilated moisture builds up inside and will condensate on windows and in walls.”
Dust mites love moisture, so will proliferate in a damp house, not to mention that mouldy smell that comes when a house hasn’t been aired.
Dr Osborne said there are simple and effective ways to reduce the moisture in your house.
“If you’re cooking remember to turn the extractor fan on. There could potentially be more hot meals served in winter.”
Dry the dog off before you come inside and think about where you store your wet coats — put them on the veranda until they dry off.
“If it’s sunny get your washing out and make sure if you use a dryer that it’s vented to the outside. It all adds up,” he said.
Dr Osborne said that modern houses were often tightly sealed — with double glazing and chimneys blocked off, which could add to the propensity for a house to have damp.
Keeping your house well ventilated and also warm will help keep mould and dust mites in check.
“A few minor behavioral changes will mean you live in a healthier house,” he said.