Cleaning to Reduce Allergens In Your home
If you have seasonal allergies, you don't need me to tell you spring has arrived.
Perhaps worse than being hampered by hay fever or a chronic cough is knowing four of the most common allergy and asthma triggers probably lurk right under your nose.
Animal dander. Dust and dust mites. Mold and mildew. And that seasonal debutante, pollen.
Fortunately, it's never been easier to control your symptoms, thanks to new research bringing us closer to understanding the dramatic increase in allergies and asthma.
Here's the dirt on cleaning for allergy relief and preventing (when possible) asthma and allergy triggers in your home so you and your family can breathe better.
Bedroom Cleaning for Allergy Relief
The bedroom is a dust mite's home base, thanks to the proliferation of shed skin.
Whether you notice it or not, your skin flakes - and that produces a mite's favorite meal.
Which, naturally, leads to our immune system allergic reaction - and it's side effects, including watery eyes and a runny nose.
Be especially diligent here:
- Remove carpeting in favor of bare floors if asthma or dust allergies are severe.
- Dust frequently with a damp cloth or furniture-dusting product.
- Vacuum weekly using a double-bagged, HEPA filtered vacuum cleaner.
- Launder curtains regularly. Better yet, replace dust-magnet curtains with shades for year-round allergy relief. Avoid blinds - they're dust magnets, too.
- Control clutter because it provides places for dust mites, pet dander, and the detritus of allergy season to accumulate. Get rid of dust collectors such as magazines, knickknacks, and stuffed animals; or store them in closed boxes or cloth bags.
- Store shoes, belts, and other small items in boxes or cloth or canvas bags.
- Wash bedding and pajamas at least weekly in warm water and dry on the hottest setting - this second step is crucial to removing dust mites and allergens. Blankets, comforters, and mattress pads should be washed monthly.
- Vacuum both sides of mattresses for two minutes at least twice monthly. This will reduce the dust and allergens nesting there, allowing everyone to breathe easier at night.
Kitchen Allergy Cleaning
Mold and mildew are your biggest challenges here.
- Keep under-sink cabinets and countertops clean and dry.
- Clean the kitchen regularly using a disinfectant (antibacterial) cleaner formulated to kill mildew.
- Moisture inside the fridge makes it a prime breeding ground for mold. Clean the walls and shelves regularly using a nonabrasive, all-purpose cleaner or a solution of baking soda and water. Wipe up water that accumulates in the crisper drawers, and clean them regularly.
More mold-and-mildew patrol. The warm wet environs are prime growing grounds for these two unsightly interlopers.
To help prevent this growth, and the accompanying allergic side effects it produces in some of us, repair any leaks, use the exhaust fan after bathing, keep air circulating, and keep the surfaces clean and dry.
- Wash fabric curtains with detergent and liquid bleach (or the color-safe variety). Presoak heavily mildewed areas in 1/4 cup bleach and one gallon of water.
- Vinyl shower curtains should be scrubbed with liquid bleach or a mildew remover before washing. Don't put them in the dryer.
- After showering, sponge or squeegee dry the shower walls.
- Keep the shower door or curtain open after use.
- Clean shower stalls and bathtubs using a non-abrasive all-purpose or disinfectant cleaner.
- Mold-and-mildew patrol requires a mildew remover. Use in a well-ventilated area; most shouldn't be used by an asthma sufferer. Disinfectant cleaners used two or three times a week will prevent mildew from getting a toehold in the future.
Living and Family Rooms
Here you'll often find a potpourri of dust and dust mites, animal dander, pollen, and mold and mildew.
Vacuum weekly with an allergen- control vacuum - more often if you have a pet and during heavy allergy seasons.
Go against the carpet's nap, taking a minimum of six to eight strokes over each area. Empty or replace the bag when it is half full. (Fuller bags result in less suction power, meaning a less-efficient vacuuming session.)
Assign this task to someone other than the allergy sufferer. Or wear a disposable mask. The allergic resident should stay out of the area for 30 minutes after vacuuming.
- Area rugs should be used in front of all entryways to trap and hold dust and dirt and outdoor allergens as far away from the living areas as possible. Regularly shake them outdoors and away from open windows and your face. Launder them weekly to remove dust and dust mites, animal dander, pollen, and mold spores.
- Dust regularly with a damp cloth or furniture-dusting product. Dry dusting sends dust spiraling into the air and back down on your surfaces.
- Launder curtains frequently to remove dust and dust mites.
- Clean window frames and sills regularly. Be on the lookout for condensation, mold, and mildew.
- Regularly wash soft, machine-washable toys.
Attic and Basement
Mold, mildew, dust and dust mites reside here happily, thanks to the usually warm, dark, and moist atmosphere.
- Store items in plastic boxes or closed cloth bags.
- If mold and mildew are a recurring problem causing allergy symptoms such as watery eyes and a runny nose, use a dehumidifier to keep the relative humidity between 35 and 50 percent.