Living with allergies makes everything harder, especially cleaning. With a few cleaning tips for allergy sufferers, you can get your home clean and allergy free without sneezing twenty times.
Understand Common Allergens
Exactly. Which allergens are you likely to run into when you’re cleaning your home? And which ones are likely to be present in the house when it’s not clean enough?
Some of the most common allergens include dust mites, pollen, pet dander, mold spores, and certain chemicals. These can trigger symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, and difficulty breathing.
Dusting and Vacuuming
Dusting and vacuuming regularly are crucial steps in maintaining an allergen-free home. But they’re also the worst trigger for allergy attacks.
Let’s look at how you can make your dusting and vacuuming routine more effective:
- Use Microfiber Cloths: When dusting, opt for microfiber cloths instead of traditional feather dusters or cotton rags. Microfiber cloths are designed to trap and hold onto dust particles, instead of just stirring them up for you to breathe.
- Use a HEPA Vacuum Cleaner: High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) vacuum cleaners are specially designed to capture small particles, including allergens. Vacuum your carpets, upholstery, and other surfaces at least once a week, paying extra attention to corners, under furniture, and pet bedding.
- Wear a Mask and Gloves: If you are particularly sensitive to allergens, consider wearing a mask and gloves while dusting and vacuuming to minimize direct exposure. This can help prevent any allergic reactions during the cleaning process.
I learned #3 coincidentally in 2020. It seems getting dust either on my hands or into my sinuses is a big trigger for me. The mask and gloves prevent that, so I barely have any allergic reaction to dusting anymore.
Bedding and Linens
Your bedding and linens can hold a lot of allergens, particularly dust mites. These tips will help you keep your sleeping area as allergen-free as possible:
- Wash Bedding Weekly: Wash your bedding, including sheets, pillowcases, and blankets, in hot water (at least 130°F) once a week to kill dust mites and remove allergens. You might want to use allergen-proof covers for your mattress, pillows, and duvet to create a barrier against allergens.
- Choose Hypoallergenic Materials: Opt for hypoallergenic bedding made of natural materials, such as cotton or bamboo, because they’re less likely to harbor allergens. Avoid materials like wool or down, which can trap dust mites and other allergens.
- Regularly Vacuum: Vacuum your mattress regularly using a HEPA vacuum cleaner to remove any dust mites or allergens that may have settled.
Improving indoor air quality is vital for allergy sufferers. Here are a few tips to purify the air in your home:
- Use an Air Purifier: I’m a big fan of HEPA purifiers, and you can read my review of the best HEPA air purifiers to remove airborne allergens. Put purifiers in commonly used areas such as bedrooms or living rooms for maximum effectiveness.
- Keep Windows Closed: While it may be tempting to open windows for fresh air, it can also invite pollen and other outdoor allergens (and wildfire smoke) into your home. Keep windows closed during peak pollen seasons and rely on air purifiers and air conditioning to circulate clean air.
- Regularly Change Air Filters: Regularly change the filters in your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system to ensure they are effectively trapping allergens. Aim for a filter with a high Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating to capture smaller particles.
Check Your Weather App
Most weather apps will tell you how the indoor air quality is today, and specifically which allergens are high at the moment. Check these apps to decide whether opening windows is a good idea.
If you have pets, their dander can be a significant source of allergens. Follow these tips to minimize pet-related allergens in your home:
- Establish Pet-Free Zones: Designate specific areas of your home, such as bedrooms or certain furniture, as pet-free zones. This can help reduce the amount of pet dander in areas where you spend most of your time.
- Bathe and Groom Pets Regularly: Regular bathing and grooming can help reduce the amount of shedding and dander from your pets. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the appropriate bathing schedule for your animal friend.
- Vacuum and Dust Pet Areas: Vacuum and dust your pet’s bedding, toys, and any other areas they frequent to remove allergens. Wash their bedding regularly in hot water to kill dust mites and other allergens.
Mold can be a terrible trigger for allergies and respiratory issues. Here are some tips to keep mold at bay:
- Control Moisture Levels: Keep your home’s humidity levels below 50% to discourage mold growth. Consider using dehumidifiers in areas prone to moisture, such as bathrooms and basements. Exhaust fans help in bathrooms and kitchens, so use them if you have them.
- Fix Leaks and Water Intrusions: Promptly address any leaks or water intrusions in your home. Repair roof leaks, fix plumbing issues, and ensure proper ventilation in areas like the bathroom and kitchen.
- Clean Mold-Prone Areas: Regularly clean and disinfect areas prone to mold growth, such as bathrooms and basements. Use mold-resistant cleaning products or a solution of vinegar and water to kill and remove mold.
Avoid Harsh Chemicals
For individuals with allergies, harsh cleaning chemicals can exacerbate symptoms. Consider these alternatives:
- Natural Cleaning Solutions: Opt for natural cleaning solutions, such as vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice, which are effective at removing dirt and grime without triggering allergies. These alternatives are also environmentally friendly. If you need to disinfect, go for alcohol or hydrogen peroxide for a low fume cleaner that’s safe on most surfaces.
- Read Labels: When purchasing cleaning products, carefully read the labels and opt for those labeled as hypoallergenic or free from harsh chemicals, fragrances, and dyes.
Consistency is key when it comes to maintaining an allergen-free environment. Incorporate these regular maintenance tasks into your cleaning routine:
- Dust and Clean Regularly: Dust surfaces, clean floors, and wipe down frequently touched objects regularly to minimize the build-up of allergens.
- Wash Personal Items: Wash your clothes, outerwear, and accessories regularly to remove any allergens you may have picked up throughout the day.
- Replace Furnace Filters: Change the filters in your furnace or HVAC system regularly to ensure optimal air quality.
If your allergies persist despite your best efforts, consider seeking professional cleaning services, particularly for deep cleaning tasks such as carpet cleaning or mold remediation. Professionals have specialized equipment and expertise to tackle allergens effectively.
And sometimes, when allergies are bad, it’s just better to have someone else do your routine cleaning. Stay out of the rooms they’re working in while they’re working, so you avoid any dust that’s being stirred up.