10 tips for spring cleaning with indoor allergies
After keeping homes closed up during the winter, spring cleaning can be a welcome, refreshing activity. For people with indoor allergies, however, spring cleaning can be more like a necessary evil.
Cleaning up your house can help reduce allergens and germs, give your home a fresh start for a new season, and alleviate feelings of cabin fever.
However, the cleaning process also exposes you to numerous environmental allergens. Sweeping can kick up pet dander, insect droppings, mold, and dust. The chemicals in many cleaning supplies can irritate throat and nasal passages. Even opening the windows lets in outdoor allergens and a breeze that further stirs up potential triggers.
Fortunately, you don’t have to completely avoid spring cleaning when you have indoor allergies. Instead, you can take some appropriate steps to help reduce the risk of aggravating your allergies.
10 Tips for Cleaning Your Home When You Have Allergies
1. Clean high to low
When you stir up dust while cleaning, make sure you’re not just moving it from one place to another. Start your spring cleaning with the highest spots and work your way down. This way, when you dust the top shelves or sweep cobwebs from ceiling corners, you can continue to catch dust as it settles on lower shelves or the floor. Save the floors for last.
2. Clear the air
Change air filters regularly, at least every 3-6 months, and use a MERV rating of 11 or 12. Change sheets regularly, and vacuum carpets and rugs with either a cyclonic vacuum or a vacuum with a HEPA filter. When you dust, use a cloth dampened with water, furniture polish, or other dusting liquid. Using a dry cloth is less effective and scatters more dust particles. Spraying liquid directly on surface can reduce airborne particles by 93 percent.
3. Limit moisture
Mold is a common, potentially harmful indoor allergen that depends on moisture to grow. Clean up spills and standing water as soon as possible. Keep your home humidity under 60 percent when possible, and run your bathroom fans during and after a shower or bath. Use detergent, water, and elbow grease to scrub away any visible mold on bathroom or kitchen surfaces, and make sure you dry those surfaces completely.
4. Keep windows closed
You may want to throw open every window on the first warm day of the season, but that could be an invitation for even more allergens to infest your house. Keep outdoor allergies outside by using natural and organic air fresheners. Fill your home with fresh, natural scent with some sliced lemons or crushed mint leaves. This can create a refreshing aroma that won’t irritate allergies.
5. Keep pets groomed
Furry friends should be groomed regularly to keep their dander under control. You can also reduce allergy symptoms by keeping pets out of the bedroom. If you have caged critters, such as hamsters or guinea pigs, change their bedding frequently. Store litter and hay in tightly sealed bags or containers. Wash upholstery periodically, including any pet beds.
6. Clean and guard bedding
Reduce nighttime allergy triggers by keeping your mattresses, box springs, quilts, comforters, and pillows in allergen-proof fabric or airtight plastic covers. Change bedding every week and wash it in hot water (at least 130 degrees F) and dry it on the highest temperature setting.
7. Clean thoroughly, not frequently
If dust mites are a problem for your allergies, research indicates that vacuuming thoroughly is better than how often you vacuum. Make sure you use attachments on places where dust mites and their droppings tend to collect, including draperies, mattresses, and padded furniture.
8. Consider some renovations
Wall-to-wall carpeting is the most difficult to clean, and can trap many different kinds of allergens, even with frequent vacuuming. Consider removing wall-to-wall carpeting and instead using throw rugs that can be regularly cleaned. Seal off any areas where cockroaches can enter the home. Repair or change leaking fixtures and roofing to reduce moisture.
9. Stop outdoor allergies from getting in
Besides keeping indoor allergies under control, you should also keep outdoor allergens out of the home. Keep doors and windows closed when pollen counts are highest, which is usually mid-day and afternoon. Use gloves and dust or pollen masks when mowing and gardening. Wash your hands, hair, and clothing after spending significant time outside. Keep floor mats on both sides of any door that leads outside the house, and sweep or wash them regularly.
10. Reduce clutter
Besides deep-cleaning your home, spring is also a great time to donate, sell, or throw out items you no longer need or want. Knickknacks, storage boxes, and even extra clothes can collect dust and provide more spots for dust mites, cockroaches, and other pests to hide. Too much clutter is also difficult to clean around, so downsizing can help your spring cleaning go faster.
You don’t have to live with indoor allergies!
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