Allergy sufferers, you might be cleaning your house all wrong
If you suffer from severe seasonal allergies and still think cleaning is for the birds, continue reading.
More than 50 million Americans suffer from some type of allergy, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, and many of them are seasonal pollen allergies.
If you suffer from severe allergies or even common seasonal allergies, diligent housekeeping can help you avoid triggers and ease some symptoms, said Dr. Rachel L. Hailey with HCA Midwest Health headquartered in Overland Park, Kansas.
Detail of a man cleaning a wooden kitchen floor with a mop and bucket, taken on March 3, 2018. (Photo by Olly Curtis/T3 Magazine/Future via Getty Images)
"Dust and allergens naturally collect in carpets, rugs, bedding and upholstering and contribute to worsened allergies. The health benefits of a clean home are many," Hailey said.
However, a singular, annual spring-cleaning doesn’t do the trick. Experts said cleaning once a week allows you to get rid of many allergy triggers and help relieve any symptoms.
Cleaning tips to help reduce allergy triggers
If you suffer from severe allergies, you might consider hiring someone to clean your house or enlist another family member to help.
"But if you clean your own home, it’s important to be intentional – for instance, use a damp cloth and mop so allergens are trapped rather than free-floating in the air and avoid cleaning products with strong fragrances or even shampooing your carpets and rugs with heavily scented cleaners, which could aggravate your allergies, not help them," Hailey said.
It’s a good idea to also wear a mask when you’re cleaning because it can kick those allergens up initially, making symptoms worse during or after cleaning, said Zaharo Tsekouras, chief of staff at Spruce, which provides lifestyle services to the multifamily industry.
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"Pay close attention to bedding, surfaces attracting dust and allergens, and any areas with potential for mold," Tsekouras said.
Likewise, purging your basement or closet of boxes of books and clothing or outfitting your bed with dust-mite proof covers for mattresses, pillows and box springs can help rid your house of dust and dust mites. It is suggested to wash your sheets weekly in hot water to kill dust mites.
"And don’t forget your kiddo’s stuffies. Washable stuffed animals harbor mites and pick up household dust, so it’s important to keep them clean," Hailey said.
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There are all sorts of allergens that can be lurking in your home such as dust, mold and pollen.
"If you have a pet, then dander could be building up as well," Tsekouras said.
Taking off shoes before you enter your home is a great way to limit pollen.
Keep dust, dander under control
The most effective way to combat spring allergies in your home is to keep dust at bay by making sure surfaces are clear and clutter-free.
"Going over surfaces with a microfiber cloth usually does the job," Tsekouras said. "Don’t forget to wash any pet beds either. Brushing your pet regularly can help minimize dander inside your home too."
You also should vacuum at least once a week – maybe even twice if you’re a chronic spring allergy sufferer.
"In addition to cleaning and replacing your vacuum filter, you’ll want to make sure your vacuum has a HEPA filter as well. Most normal filters will let small allergens slip right through, sending them right back into the air," Tsekouras said.
You also want to prevent pollen from getting inside in the first place.
Spring is around the corner — which means more deck and patio time. You want to keep those surfaces and entryways clean by sweeping to keep tracking dust or pollen into the house at a minimum.
"Although it may be tempting to get some fresh air, keeping windows and doors closed is a good idea if you have allergies," Tsekouras said.
If you’re needing some airflow, an air conditioner is your best bet. Just make sure to change the filter often.