On average, people spend up to 90% of their time indoors, and indoor air can be two and a half times as polluted as outdoor air.
Indoor Air Quality is of particular concern for those affected by asthma and allergies, but a healthier home is of broader benefit to all.
The asthma & allergy friendly® Certification Program seeks to assist people to identify products which will make a genuine difference to their indoor environment. It develops certification standards for relevant categories of products, and all certified products undergo testing to those standards. In this way, the consumer can then make an informed choice about materials like insulation, flooring products, etc. that they bring into their home.
In the case of washing machines, customers want to be confident that their washing machine can remove allergens such as dust mite allergen and cat allergen. Once items are washed, if the dust mites have not been killed by the washing process, dust mite allergen can begin to accumulate again. Our standard addresses these issues.
Our washing machine standard is one of over 50 standards in the asthma & allergy friendly® Certification Program, covering appliances, bedding products, air filters, building products, and services that can have an impact on the indoor air environment. You can explore the vacuum cleaner standard in more detail using the menu on the left, or use the links above to explore other standards.
Case Study: LG
The Business Challenge
LG was launching a its first washing machine based on TrueSteam® technology. The machine is effective not only in reducing allergens but in saving energy and water. The challenge was how to successfully launch a new product in a competitive marketplace during a tough economic period.
In 2008, LG turned to the independent asthma & allergy friendly® Certification Program for its stringent standards and the reputation of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) for patient advocacy.
They wanted to appeal to a growing number of consumers who were purchasing products with allergen reduction features and environmental control. Not only are consumers increasingly confused by unproven allergy based claims on home appliances but are willing to seek out products with validated scientific performance claims.
48% of respondents of the National Harris Interactive Survey with asthma and allergies feel the asthma & allergy friendly® Certification Mark is a ‘better choice’ for families. Households with children are more likely to purchase products displaying Bert’s Mark and believe it indicates ‘higher quality’ products.
They were able to use their certification to provide peace of mind for consumers and build trust in the product and the brand.
They integrated the testing results and scientific research expertise of Allergy Standards Ltd (ASL) into the brand’s core features and general messaging.
LG capitalized on ASL’s market data and consumer sentiment with regard to allergies and a healthy home to develop their go to market strategy, collateral and tactics. By collaborating with ASL they developed relevant, rich, educational content to engage customers on healthy indoor living issues and leverage credible platforms on which to launch their product including a media launch event in New York with keynote scientific speakers provided by the program.
They incorporated key messaging into their advertising and in-store collateral, press releases, newsletters and articles, website, blogs, social media and launch events.
LG is the number one front loading washing machine brand in the USA and their targeted marketing efforts have allowed them to achieve growth in their target sector in a tough economic period. They have deepened customer engagement and feedback with many appearances on blogs, chat rooms and forums. They continue to benefit from endorsement from AAFA and the huge volumes of concerned consumers who use their resources.
To date, LG has certified 11 different models of washing machines as asthma & allergy friendly® and has entered into a long term agreement with the Certification Program. Together with AAFA and retail partners such as the Home Depot they continue to inform and empower consumers about environmental control and allergen reduction with educational content about healthy homes, co-branded in-store materials and magazines. LG continue to deliver powerful educational material to their target audience, deepening customer engagement and increasing their authority on the blogosphere and social media. They continue to leverage not for profit association with AAFA, strengthening their leadership position and building trust with their audience.
Standard Abstract 06-01: Washing Machines
Washing Machine that are certified asthma & allergy friendly® are tested to the ASP:06-01 Washing Machine Certification Standard.
The Certification Standard utilizes an algorithm of proprietary and recognized scientific techniques to assess Washing Machines for their ability to reduce allergenic and irritant materials during domestic laundering. Submitted washing machine models that pass certification testing are granted a certificate stating that the particular washing machine meets the requirements for the asthma & allergy friendly® ASP-06:01/101 Certification Standard.
Allergy Standards Ltd (ASL) subjects the washing machine to physical testing to ensure that it reduces total allergen burden, while minimising any increase in airborne allergen levels.
Part 1: Removal of allergen containing test dust from carpet and airborne allergen levels during vacuuming
Demonstrable for more than one allergen, Bio-allergen levels in test items reduced following washing
Part 2: Thermal capability
Achieve a washing temperature
Der p 1 (dust mite) antigen resurgence over a four-week incubation period post-washing in test items previously infested with live house dust mite (in % of the control)
Part 3: Warranty
The Certification of washing machines as asthma & allergy friendly® is subject to manufacturer’s warranty period for washing machines.
Part 4: Ozone levels
Washing capability must be achieved without exposure above 0.1mg/m3indoor ozone by-product.
All CERTIFIED asthma & allergy friendly® paints are associated with a unique Certification code.
Why and how we certify washing machines – a Q&A
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 over 50 standards 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
A Brief History of Laundry
I spend an inordinate amount of time in my laundry room. When my youngest was just three years old, she casually referred to it as my ‘playroom’. Her playroom was where she and her siblings spent their time, my playroom was where I spent my time. Simple as that to a three year old year old. It did make me stop and think though. My laundry room is a tight space, laundry is not among my favourite pastimes, and it’s pretty time consuming to keep a household of 5 in clean clothes and bed linen. But, relatively speaking? As compared to laundry duties of the past? It’s a breeze.
The first washing machine wasn’t invented until the late 1700s, so until then human hands and feet did most of the work. I find the Romans impressive in this regard for two reasons – the first was that it was considered a man’s job. The second was that the job was done by professionals. No laundry for the ordinary Roman resident. Fullones or clothes washers were in charge of the washing and drying for the citizens of ancient Rome. Their specialised laundrettes had vats or tubs to wash the mainly woollen clothes and the Fullones used their feet to stamp out the dirt. Rather disgustingly, urine was collected from public restrooms and this, because it contained ammonia, was used as a cleaning agent. Soap wouldn’t become widely available until many hundreds of years later. Then after drying in the open air, they raised the nap of the wool using a thistly plant or the skin of a hedgehog. Impressively inventive! Sulphur or a white earth did the trick to whiten the cloth. I don’t envy the rotten egg smell of sulphur that they must have had to endure.
Medieval Europe and beyond
Rivers were hugely important to any kind of settlement in medieval Europe and one of their functions was laundry. Laundry was such an undertaking that it was not a regular or frequent occurrence and it was mainly done by the people themselves- no laundry service here, unless of course you were rich. People smelled, clothes smelled and the poorer one was, the worse the situation. Bats and boards were used to beat out the dirt, usually without soap, or the items were pulled over and back over rocks. Soap only became widely used from the 1700s onwards. Can you imagine the back breaking work involved at a rivers edge even in the dead of winter, hauling and dragging the water sodden clothes and bed linen. No wonder it wasn’t a weekly task.
Fast forward a couple of hundred years and as cities grew and access to rivers decreased, large washtubs made of wood became the norm in most households. Clothes were stirred and beaten in a process that could take days and was often carried out by poor washerwomen. During the 1800s the washboard became a common household item and became more effective with the addition of fluted metal sheets. Soap became more commonplace and as the importance of personal hygiene became apparent, so the frequency of washing increased. The Victorian era was characterised by the Monday wash- these items then spent the week in transit being washed, pressed and aired and ready for Sunday.
The First Washing Machines
What a relief it must have been when the first machines appeared on the scene. Obviously laundry still required a lot of manpower as this was long before electricity, but these basic machines -wooden cages with handles for turning- must have hugely eased the workload for the common person. Throughout the 1800s, models improved and evolved with the first revolving drum appearing in 1851.
The first electric machines appeared around 1900 and this dramatically improved things. No longer did the drum need manual rotation, a motor could do the job. Nothing comes without its faults though and the initial motors, which weren’t adequately protected from dripping water, often short circuited and caused shocks …maybe the side of a river was preferable after all…
By the 1920s, the old wooden or copper tubs were being replaced by white enamelled sheet metal and some even had built-in water heaters, but really it wasn’t until the 1940s that washing machines became recognisable as we know them today and not until the 1950s that timers and spin drying features became standard. In 1957, the most advanced washing machine ever was produced- offering 5 push buttons to control wash temperature, rinse temperature, agitation, speed and spin. Very fancy indeed.
And now, 60 years later, we have advanced beyond the wildest imaginations of our ancestors. Those poor unfortunates at the side of a freezing river would never believe how easy we have it. They would have been lucky to remove a fraction of the dirt and debris in their filthy clothes despite the exhausting amount of work involved. Garments would have been handed down from generation to generation, unwashed and full of germs and allergens of every conceivable type.
Today, by using advanced technology, the most modern machines can confidently remove allergens such as dust mite and pet dander ensuring a healthy home by preventing the accumulation of these nasty allergens. And this can even be done now without even the trouble of using the washing machine: steam can be used to gently refresh items between washes by innovative sanitary cycles that can reduce wrinkles and remove odours and allergens. Even the kids’ plush toys can be sanitised in this way. All this can be wi-fi enabled, so can be done by our smartphone from where ever we may be – relaxing and enjoying ourselves on a beach maybe. Or, if you prefer, you can tell your washing machine to start a cycle by using voice command. It’s a far cry from urine and sulphur, that’s for sure. My poor ancestors might even say that I have my own personal playroom…
Scientific Article: Washing Machines
By Scientific Author Dr. Tim Yeomans
This article deals with products that can help with the control of exposure to allergens through their removal or treatment.
Some products that can help with the control of exposure to allergens in houses.
These can include:
- Vacuum cleaners
- Carpet washers
- Washing machines
- Air filters
- Cleaning products
- Air conditioners
A washing machine is a key part of an allergen reduction plan – there are a number of items in the home that can accumulate allergen that can be rendered ‘safe’ following washing. These include:
- Pillow cases
- Duvet covers
- Mattress encasements
Dust mites are sensitive to elevated temperatures, and the ingredients of some washing detergents can degrade proteins (including the dust mite proteins that can induce an allergic response). The key measure for a washing machine therefore is that it can reach the temperature indicated on the wash cycle – for killing dust mites, this needs to be at least 130°F (54.4°C). While all washing machines will include a hot wash cycle, this temperature must be achieved in a consistent way within the drum, rather than peaking at a particular hot spot.
- Does your washing machine consistently reach a minimum of 130°F (54.4°C) and has this been tested?
- This is the critical kill point for the house dust mite, some washing machines may reach this temperature but only at certain spots in the drum (‘hot-spots’). Ensure that your washing machine has been tested appropriately that a consistent high temperature is reached in order to kill house dust mites.
||asthma & allergy friendly®
|Capability to reduce bio-allergen levels
The Washing machine should have the capability to reduce bio-allergen levels in selected test items
Dust mite, pet dander
Dust mite, pet dander
Dust mite, pet dander
The washing machine should have the capability to kill house dust mites
Many electric motor driven appliances produce ozone as a by-product
Certifications are mapped against asthma & allergy friendly® but may include other criteria
|The Certification of washing machines as asthma & allergy friendly® is subject to manufacturer’s warranty period for washing machines.
||NSF Protocol P351 also requires that the washing machine be designed to avoid accumulation of dirt and debris, be easily cleanable, and corrosion resistant.
|| Mandatory intensive rinsing, maximum water consumption, maximum detergent residues. The washing performance exceeds 0.99 (according to IEC 60456 [EN60456: 2011])
||Energy and water efficiency
16 December 2021
Dr. John McKeon, CEO of Allergy Standards, gives expert advice on tracking home health and why it makes perfect sense
28 October 2021
Many people can be allergic to dust mites, pet dander, and other allergens that can build up in bedding, clothes, and other washable items at home. Taking care of these items by washing them regularly is a fundamental part of maintaining a healthy home environment.
14 October 2021
In this NBC News article, digital editorial intern for Select, Zoe Malin seeks expert advice from ASL CEO, Dr. John McKeon, on indoor air quality and air cleaners.
23 August 2021
Watch our CEO Dr John McKeon and President & CEO of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Kenneth Mendez, on Healthy Indoors Live with Bob Krell for a very interesting dive into the significant role a healthy indoor environment plays in our overall health & well-being.
13 August 2021
In this NBC News article, our CEO Dr. John McKeon explains the difference between air filters, air cleaners and air purifiers. He also offers tips on some good home habits that can be adopted to help improve indoor air quality.
6 July 2021
In this article, Allergy Standards CEO Dr. John McKeon gives top tips on how to take care of your indoor environment this summer.
18 June 2021
Well+Good Consults Dr. John McKeon About Air Purifiers
2 June 2021
In this Well+Good article, John gives valuable advice on the mechanics of window air conditioners.
25 March 2021
Dr. Emer Duffy, Science Lead at Allergy Standards Ltd., is the lead author of the recently published, highly relevant paper entitled ‘Colorimetric Sensing of Volatile Organic Compounds Produced from Heated Cooking Oils’ which describes the use of a simple, cost-effective and easy-to-visualise method for the detection of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).
20 March 2021
Great to see the asthma & allergy friendly® Certification Program highlighted in The Washington Post. The author, Laura Daily, was tasked with finding out what is the best flooring for allergy sufferers and how consumers can really know what’s in the materials being used.