Those who suffer from seasonal allergies know that cleaning is a double-edged sword. Keeping the house clean and free of dust, pollen, dander, mold, and other allergy triggers is the best way to reduce symptoms, but the cleaning process, itself, can pose its own challenges. It can stir up all kinds of allergens, leaving cleaners dealing with itchy eyes, sneezing fits, and other symptoms sometimes for the rest of the day.
Everyone deserves to live in a clean, healthy home, including allergy sufferers. Thankfully, there are a few ways to minimize the unpleasant effects of cleaning without having to pay someone else to perform simple tasks. Read on to find some cleaning tips for allergy sufferers that will help.
1. Take Preventative Steps
Removing allergens will be a lot easier with some preventative steps in place to stop them from building up, so it’s worth making a few minor modifications around the home. Start by replacing old screens with AllergyGuard™ window shields. They’re designed with BMT’s NanoScreen™ technology that keeps pollen, dust, and other allergens outside where they belong. Switching to AllergyGuard screens will allow allergy sufferers to open up the windows to get fresh air and allow adequate ventilation for cleaning chemicals without worrying about making the problem worse.
Keeping pollen and other outdoor allergens from entering the home can make a huge difference when it comes to a reduction of symptoms, but those with environmental allergies need to pay an equal amount of attention to what contaminants they may be introducing into their home. They can improve indoor air quality by:
- Avoiding scented candles and air fresheners
- Getting rid of clutter to reduce dust
- Removing shoes at the door
- Installing a HEPA air purifier or air filter
- Keeping mold at bay by controlling moisture in bathrooms, laundry rooms, and other humid areas
2. Make a Schedule
Most modern Americans live busy lives, so it can be hard to find time for routine tasks like cleaning. Making a schedule and sticking to it is the best way to ensure that everything gets done. Some people like to choose one day of the week to devote to cleaning, but allergy sufferers may want to spread the tasks out.
Start by creating a list of everything that needs to get done around the home. Try to split them up based on how long they will take or how often the tasks need to be performed. It’s fine to schedule short blocks of cleaning and maintenance every day or longer blocks two to three times a week. Either way, don’t let the tasks slide. Ignoring routine maintenance tasks can leave allergy sufferers stuck with giant, dusty, sneezy messes on their hands at the end of the week.
3. Buy a Quality Vacuum and Use It Often
Sweeping kicks up a lot of dust. Much of the dirt swept up by the broom ends up in the air, then back on the floor or other surfaces instead of making it into the dustpan. Until it settles, it can cause all kinds of sneezing fits, watery eyes, and other familiar allergy symptoms. That’s why it’s better to invest in a high-quality vacuum.
When choosing a vacuum, look for one that features a small-particle or HEPA filter. Just like the larger versions of HEPA filters, those found in vacuums are designed to catch small airborne particles like pollen, dust, and dander so they don’t wind up being reintroduced into the environment. Try to find a relatively light vacuum that’s easy to use and has all the necessary attachments to clean all the flooring materials and furniture in the home. Use it at least twice a week to stop dirt and allergens from piling up.
4. Use a Microfiber Cloth to Dust
Microfiber cloths are designed to minimize the spread of airborne allergens while making it easier to remove 100% of dust and other particulates from hard surfaces instead of just redistributing them. They’re also super-absorbent and will not scratch sensitive materials, as other common cleaning clothes will. Allergy sufferers should look for a microfiber dust cloth that is certified asthma and allergy-friendly.
Other dusters, such as brooms or regular dust cloths, can spread allergens around the home. This makes allergy attacks more common not just while cleaning, but also throughout the rest of the week. Even with the right tools, it’s important to keep dust from building up. Make a point of dusting at least once a week to prevent the buildup of allergens on surfaces and reduce the chances of spreading them into the air while cleaning.
5. Wash Bedding Frequently
Sheets, pillowcases, and other bed linens can harbor a lot of allergens, including dust mites, pollen from clothes, pet dander, and even mold. This helps to explain why so many allergy sufferers wake up with stuffy noses every morning. The best way to avoid nighttime stuffiness is to wash most bed linens, including sheets and pillowcases, weekly using a fragrance-free detergent.
There’s no need to wash duvets, comforters, and mattress covers every week. Instead, just vacuum duvets or comforters at least twice a week and do the same for mattress covers at least once a month. Pet owners who allow their furry friends up on the bed at night should add vacuuming their bed linens at least twice a week to their to-do lists, as well.
6. Don’t Forget the Window Treatments
Window treatments like curtains and blinds naturally collect dust, but they’re easy to overlook during routine cleanings. Make a point of vacuuming curtains or drapes monthly or launder them according to the same schedule if they can be put in the washing machine.
Blinds are easier to clean, so those who prioritize convenience may want to go for this option instead. Just use a microfiber cloth or a specialized blind cleaner to remove dust and debris at least once a month to stop them from becoming a hidden source of serious sniffles.
7. Keep Moisture at Bay
Mold allergies are common, and they can produce very unpleasant symptoms. Mold can thrive anywhere with sufficient moisture, and that doesn’t just mean pooling water. Those who pay attention when visiting friends have likely noticed that mold is a common fixture in even well-maintained bathrooms.
The best way to keep bathroom moisture to a minimum is to leave the doors open after showering and pull the shower curtain back to increase airflow. Allergy sufferers may also want to wipe down the walls and floors using a microfiber cloth after each shower to keep things as dry as possible, especially in poorly ventilated bathrooms.
If high humidity is a problem in other rooms of the house, it may be worth investing in a portable dehumidifier. Dehumidifiers work by drawing in humid air and condensing the water vapor onto a cold surface. The condensed water then drips into a collection bucket and the air is returned to the room dry, keeping humidity levels low and reducing the spread of mold. Those who like to keep houseplants may also want to switch to watering with ice cubes to prevent unnecessary moisture problems caused by lingering pools of water.
8. Avoid Scented Cleaners and Detergents
It’s common for those with allergies to have trouble with scented cleaners and detergents. The fragrances used in these products may smell nice, but they don’t actually help to get surfaces, clothes, or furniture any cleaner. It’s better to go fragrance-free if scented products are triggering allergy symptoms.
9. Don’t Air-Dry the Laundry
Air-drying laundry outside on a clothesline may have a certain appeal when it comes to environmental friendliness, but it’s a terrible idea for those with seasonal allergies. Air-dried laundry almost always picks up pollen, even on days when pollen counts are low. Plus, allowing clothes to hang damp on the line for hours until they dry naturally can create a perfect environment for mold and mildew, and those are two things allergy sufferers don’t want.
10. Treat Carpets with Care
Carpets are a poor choice for households with allergy-prone residents. They tend to trap dust, dander, and other contaminants, and they’re notoriously hard to clean. Those who can’t imagine giving up their carpets can at least take a few precautions, though. They can:
- Purchase carpets and rugs made from hypoallergenic materials
- Vacuum the carpets at least once a week
- Have carpets steam-cleaned professionally instead of using carpet shampoo
- Avoid spills or clean them thoroughly right after they happen to reduce the chances of mold growth
- Don’t choose carpets for bedrooms, living rooms, or other frequently inhabited areas
A home should be a family’s fortress, but for residents with seasonal allergies, staying indoors can become equally nightmarish if each room isn’t kept clean. Try to avoid bringing outdoor allergens in by switching to asthma- and allergy-friendly window screens and taking shoes off before entering the house, and stay on top of routine tasks like dusting, vacuuming, and laundering the bedclothes. Make a list, check it twice, then follow it every week to ensure that nothing gets missed. It’s