There is ever-increasing awareness of the chemicals and allergens we come into contact with every day, particularly if you or a member of your family has asthma or allergies. We created the asthma & allergy friendly® Certification Program to help you improve your indoor environment by identifying products and services that can help to reduce allergens and create a healthier home environment.
But what is it that makes some washing machines better for the indoor environment than others, and where do we draw the line to decide to certify a washing machine as asthma & allergy friendly®? We hope that the questions below will clarify this. Let us know if you have more questions!
Why do you certify washing machine?
- Help people create a healthier indoor environment and reduce allergens in the home
Our goal in the asthma & allergy friendly® Certification Program is to create a healthier indoor environment for you and your family, as well as to reduce allergens in the home. So we look at all elements of the indoor air environment.
The most common allergen found in bedding and clothing comes from dust mites, which are tiny bugs that live in the dust in mattresses, pillows, carpets, beddings, soft toys, etc. Dust mites feed on skin cells that you shed while wearing clothes or using bedding, and it is their waste which we refer to as dust mite allergen. It is usually the waste that causes an allergic reaction, and not the dust mites themselves. However, reducing the level of dust mites is an excellent way of reducing dust mite allergen!
Dust mite allergen can accumulate over time, and so it is important that dust mites and their allergen can be removed from products by washing. Dust mite allergen is soluble, and so it is possible to remove it by washing at relatively low temperatures. But a high temperature is needed to be able to kill dust mites, and not many washing machines can reach this temperature.
As with all electrical appliances, it is possible that washing machines can product ozone as a by-product. This can have a negative impact on the respiratory system.
What do you look for in washing machines?
We look at three areas when we test a washing machine.
- Removal of Allergen
- Removal of Dust Mites
- Temperature of the Washing Machine
1. Removal of Allergen
The first is to test whether the washing machine can remove allergen that is in clothing. We add live dust mites and cat hair to sweaters and soft toys, and we put them in a chamber for seven days so the dust mites can produce allergen. Then we remove the items: we test half of them for the levels of dust mite allergen and cat allergen. We wash the other half in the washing machine and test them afterwards for dust mite allergen and cat allergen levels. We compare the results of the two groups of items; we require that there is over 95% less allergen on the items that have been washed.
2. Removal of Dust Mites
We take two more groups of sweaters and soft toys, and add live dust mites and cat allergen to them. We put them in separate chambers for 35 days, and make sure that there is a source of food for any dust mites. After seven days, we wash one group of items in the washing machine. Then we leave them for another 28 days. Any dust mites that survived the washing machine will have time to grow and product allergen. At the end of the 35 days we test both groups of items for dust mite allergen and cat allergen. We compare the results of the two groups of items; we require that there is 90% less allergen on the items that were washed. This will show that the dust mites themselves were removed by washing.
3. Temperature of the Washing Machine
To kill dust mites, it is necessary to wash items at a suitably high temperature. We make sure that certified washing machines can reach a temperature of 55°Celsius (131° Fahrenheit) and maintain it for 15 minutes.
Some appliances can produce ozone as a side-effect of their operation. We make sure that if certified washing machines do product ozone particles, that it is at a suitably low level that it is unlikely to have an impact on the indoor environment.
What else do you certify?
We have 46 different asthma & allergy friendly® certification standards for products and services, addressing all areas of the indoor air environment. Some of these relate to products which remove allergens and dust from the indoor environment, like vacuum cleaners, air cleaners, dehumidifiers, and washing machines. Some of them relate to products where it is important not to provide an easy home for allergens and that it is possible to remove allergen from them – like bedding, toys, and flooring. And some of them relate to household products that should make as little an impact on the indoor environment as possible – like flooring and paint.
You can find out which products are certified asthma & allergy friendly® and read more here: www.asthmaandallergyfriendly.com
washing machine, science, testing, Certification Program, asthma, allergy, allergy insights, healthier home, indoor air quality, indoor environment
Related Internal Links