March 20, 2019
Allergy Sufferers’ Spring Cleaning Tips
After several last gasps, winter finally retreated, and we get to enjoy brief spring-like weather before temperatures start climbing into the upper 90s. Many people get the itch to clean up and clean out this time of year, and it’s an especially smart idea for allergy sufferers.
Before you grab your trusty arsenal of cleaning products, remember that the ingredients can be irritants that cause the same asthma and allergy symptoms as dust, pollen, or mold. Consider switching to “green” products, or even utilize non-toxic ingredients like vinegar and baking soda.
If a lucky member of your household does not suffer from allergies, consider having them do the work since they are less likely to experience a reaction from all the dust and pollen swirling around. Whether or not you have allergies, wearing a mask while cleaning makes good sense.
5 Tips to Ease Your Symptoms:
- Cut the clutter. Do you really need all those books/toys/magazines/knick-knacks? Be honest with yourself! There’s no time like the present to organize and donate anything cluttering your space. People do not clean well around clutter, which harbors tons of dust mites. Cardboard boxes keep moisture in and provide an excellent diet for mold, so storing rarely used items in plastic bins instead of boxes will keep mold at bay.
- Look up, down, and all around. Vacuuming and mopping are invaluable tools in the quest to minimize pollen, pet dander, and dust. But if you’re tackling just the floors, you’re missing a lot of allergen hiding places. Curtains, blinds, furniture, ceiling fans, bookshelves, windowsills, lamps, and crown molding all need attention too. Focus on those first and then work your way down to the floors.
- Win the battle with mold. This allergen is particularly problematic in the spring, when moisture is abundant. Tackle visible mold and soap scum on tile, shower curtains, and other surfaces. Ensure you don’t have any pipe, shower, or toilet leaks. These can lead to some unpleasant mold surprises. The exhaust fan is your friend. Run the fan when cleaning (and showering) to help minimize moisture in the air. Letting daytime sunlight in the bathroom can also help keep mold at bay since mold spores thrive in dark, damp places.
- Tackle your bed. It’s entirely unpleasant to think about the dust mites that join us in bed every night. Oh, and the mold, bacteria, and other nuisances that take up residence. As a general rule, you want to wash your bedding weekly in hot water. Spring is a great time to thoroughly clean your mattress and ditch the dust mites that hung around all winter. Sprinkle baking soda on the mattress and let that soak in for a minimum of 30 minutes, and then vacuum it thoroughly using the upholstery tool. Once the mattress is clean and dry, wrap it in an allergen-proof cover. This can make a big difference in the number of allergens that join you in bed. (Even better, cover the pillows and box springs as well.) While you’re taking care of the bed, make sure to toss any washable stuffed animals in the washer/dryer. If they cannot be washed, 24 hours in the freezer will do the trick!
- Clear the air. No elbow grease required on this one, and it will make a big impact. Purchase a HEPA air purifier to eliminate the vast majority of allergens in the air. If you already have one, check the manual to see when filters need replacement or cleaning. During peak allergy season, do air purifier maintenance more often than the minimum for optimal performance. Central air conditioning units also require filter changes at least every three months. Purchase filters with a MERV rating between 10 and 12 to significantly improve air quality while ensuring the air conditioner runs efficiently.
Springtime’s pleasant temperatures and blooming flowers can feel downright dreamy after a winter of gloomy, chilly weather. Don’t let all that pollen, dust, and mold steal your joy! Take a little time to spring clean so you can breathe easier at home and away!