The Coat Pile: Elaborately Thought-Out Solutions to "Small" Asthma Problems

Some people have lots of useful closet space. When guests come, they fling open their lovely, sparsely filled front closet—a few choice seasonal items, no doubt!—and grab hangers for visitors' coats.

When, conversely, like many of us, you do not have this finely arranged guest coat closet to accommodate the extra jackets of a dozen-plus guests, you instead end up with the coat pile.If you're lucky, this goes on a large table near the door (or sometimes a dog kennel!), but more often, the pile infiltrates someone’s bed.

Asthma problems with the coat pile

This seems an unlikely asthma problem, but it is one that pops up for me every so often when facing “the coat pile”—what happens not if, but when, your jacket ends up directly underneath the jacket of someone whose jacket may transfer asthma triggers to your own? Yes, it seems a super ridiculous problem, but ridiculous doesn’t mean not real!

Similarly, I recently requested my own bed not be host to this coat pile for this very reason—this time, concern over perfume transferring not from a known fragrance-wearers' jacket to my own, but the fragrance transferring from their jacket to my bed!

This can be true of triggers not only including perfume and cologne, but also “third hand” cigarette smoke, wood smoke, and pet dander—and probably others, too! During pollen seasons, as well, it may seem innocent enough, but spring jackets entering the house at certain times of day could be dumping those pollen grains onto the bed of someone with an allergy… Super not desirable!

Alternatives to the coat pile

Fortunately, I’ve found some solutions to my own jacket being in the coat pile that minimize the transfer of these triggers—in my case, perfume being the most problematic—it’s generally easy to execute these without drawing much attention or having to explain to others why you are being so peculiar in your jacket placement!

  • If your host takes your coat, let them, but then have a (real or imagined!) item you need to retrieve from your pockets, such as a phone or tissues soon after, allowing you to move your jacket from the pile.
  • At certain family members’ or friends’ homes, or if you arrive early, it may be possible to slip into a different room to hang your jacket on a doorknob or chair. I did this recently at my aunt’s, where instead of tossing my jacket on her bed Christmas morning, I went to the office down the hall and hung my jacket over a desk chair.
  • If “the pile” is your only option, and you’re not in objection to putting your jacket on the floor (which I most certainly am not), the easiest solution is to place your jacket down the far side of the bed, so it is less visible to avoid someone “helpfully” picking it up when they see it has “fallen”. Alternately, place it on the floor at the end of the bed (bonus if you have a bag to put on top of it, as this makes it arguably “more effort” for others to move your stuff.)

How do you avoid transfer of triggers to your stuff? Have you had problems with “the coat pile” or similar scenarios before?

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