Drying clothes indoors poses a health risk to people prone to asthma, hay fever and other allergies, scientists believe. Researchers found that the moisture it causes in the air contributes to the development of harmful mould and the growth of dust mites.
But, with winter approaching, many households will have little choice over the next few months. The study, carried out in 100 homes by the Mackintosh Environmental Architecture Research Unit in Glasgow, found the air in many homes was too moist, while 87 per cent dried their washing indoors in colder weather.
“Going into people’s homes, we found they were drying washing in their living rooms, in their bedrooms. Some were literally decorating the house with it, but from just one load of washing two litres of water will be emitted,” said researcher Rosalie Menon.
Her team found that 75 per cent of households, which were of mixed styles, had moisture levels which could lead to dust mite growth. The damp was also associated with mould spores.
One which is known to cause lung infections in people with weakened immune systems was found in 25 per cent of the homes sampled.
The research, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, was the first to track the implications of drying laundry passively inside the home.
All of the types of housing surveyed had a lack of suitable spaces for drying clothes.
The researchers want to see dedicated drying areas incorporated into new housing.
Ms Menon told the BBC: "These spaces should be independently heated and ventilated. It's very much going back to the airing cupboards we saw in more historical types of housing."