Drying laundry inside the home could pose health risks, according to a study. Research carried out by the Mackintosh Environmental Architecture Research Unit (MEARU) at the Glasgow School of Art revealed that laundry habits could also create economic problems.
Hanging washing on airers and radiators is common practice - a study found that a fresh batch of washing can account for up to a third of the moisture in rooms with poor ventilation or closed windows after it is hung up. Experts say these conditions encourage mould spores and dust mites which are known causes of asthma.
A study of 100 homes over the winter of 2011 revealed that 87 per cent dried their washing indoors in cold weather, with two thirds placing their laundry near heat sources like radiators. This raised moisture in the home by 30 per cent on wash days and 15 per cent on average. The researchers said smaller, more well-insulated homes made it difficult for vapour to escape. Using a tumble drier or opening a window could lower the health risk but would increase energy use, while drying laundry outside whenever possible or near south-facing windows using natural light is another solution.
"Because of increased awareness of the energy consumption of tumble dryers many people are choosing to dry clothes passively within their home. This results not only in a severe energy penalty, because of increased heating demand, but also a potential health risk due to higher moisture levels. Minor changes to the wording of the regulations would have multiple beneficial consequences. Our research gives strong justification for the changes both in terms of health and wellbeing, and associated economic impacts. It is our hope that current statutory and advisory standards will be modified to take them on board ensuring a healthy and economically sustainable living environment."
The study also showed that indoor drying also causes environmental and economic problems which house builders should take into account. The current UK trend for airtight construction and smaller homes contributes towards moisture build-up, it said. The researchers are now calling for the return of communal drying areas to try and alleviate the problem. These used to be common in the 1960s and are still used in U.S apartment blocks. However, they were phased out due to technological advances, particularly tumble dryers.The study suggests separate drying spaces should be included in the design whether they be communal or as part of individual properties while a short-term solution would be to improve ventilation.
- SAVE MONEY - You can save more than £16 a month off the monthly electric bill for many households.
- CLOTHES LAST LONGER - Where do you think lint comes from?
- PLEASANT SCENT - Clothes and linens smell better when they're dried in the fresh air.
- SAVES ENERGY, PRESERVES ENVIRONMENT, REDUCES POLLUTION - Conserve energy and the environment while reducing climate change.
- GET THE SUNSHINE TREATMENT - sunlight bleaches and disinfects.
- HEALTHY WORK - It is a moderate physical activity and can be an outdoor experience that is meditative and community building. It may also help you avoid depression and you could even lose weight!