How Drying Clothes Indoors Can Make You Sick

The weather in the U.K doesn’t help us dry clothes in winter at all. Across the land, you’ll find damp clothes slung over radiators, bannisters and chairs.

But did you know that drying clothes indoors can make you sick? And the young and elderly are most at danger.


It’s to do with all the excess moisture that gets released into the air.

Researchers from Glasgow’s Caledonian University spent three years studying the problem. In their research, they found over 30% of all moisture inside or homes is from drying clothes.

They identified 3 main dangers to ur health - dust mites, mold spores and fabric softener. 

Dangerous Dust Mites

British homes have a lot of insulation. This stops the warm air escaping. It also creates the kind of damp environment that dust mites love.

The NHS says that dust mite allergies are pretty common and cause a runny nose, itchy eyes, sneezing, wheezing and even hives.
If you have asthma, they can also cause breathing problems and chest pains. 

Malevolent Mould

We all know mould is bad. But you might not know drying clothes indoors helps it grow and multiply.

The scottish researchers took air samples from 22 homes. They measured the number of Colony Forming Units (CFU) per m3.   More than 1,000 CFUs per mis considered hazardous to health.

They found the homes that dried laundry inside had on average 1,398 CFUs per m3. Furthermore, a quarter of all homes sampled had Aspergillus fumigatus, which is often found in compost heaps.

Constantly breathing in this fungus can cause a condition called Aspergillosis. Aspergillosis causes shortness of breath, persistent cough, fever, fatigue, weight loss, and even coughing up blood.

Funky Fabric Softener

Now you might be wondering what fabric softener is doing on this list. Well, it’s to do with the chemicals manufacturers use to make them smell good.

Although they are not at liberty to disclose the ingredients (they’re viewed as “proprietary”) some fabric softeners have been found to contain Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).

These VOCs can cause itchy eyes, migraines, skin problems and asthma attacks. As these chemicals are water soluble, their concentration increases with more moisture in the air.

What can you do to keep safe?

Here are five tips to help you dry clothes indoors safely.

1. Use a tumble dryer

tumble dryers and washing machines Photo by Marshall Williams on Unsplash

Using a tumble dryer is an obvious solution to this problem. However, despite recent efficiency gains many of these appliances use a lot of energy.

Still, they make a great short-term substitute for when drying outside is not possible.

2. Use a heated air

If you don’t want the energy-consumption and higher bills that a tumble drier brings, you can use a heated airer.

They may take longer but use much less energy than driers. There are also airers with covers so all the moisture is contained.

3. Use a dehumidifier

A dehumidifier helps because it’s sole purpose is to remove moisture from the air. Some of them have laundry settings. 

4. Open a window

open window Photo by William Santos on Unsplash

It’s not always possible in winter but opening a window is a great, low-cost solution to the problem. It helps the air circulate to prevent mould and dust mites.

5. Use fragrance-free fabric softener

There’s a lot of controversy over how dangerous fabric softeners are. 

One thing people agree on is fragrance-free softeners are unlikely to have as many harmful chemicals.

blogger chart

TOTS100 - UK Parent Blogs