How to Reduce Allergens in your Home
Spring is here and after months of living with windows closed and heaters blasting, you can finally open the windows and air out the house. This is the ideal time to prepare for the warmer months and rid your home of any indoor allergens with a thorough Spring Cleaning.
The most common indoor allergens that trigger allergic reactions, asthma spells or eczema flare ups are dust, dust mite droppings, pet dander, mold, cockroaches and food. The best way to prevent and reduce these reactions is to eliminate these allergens from your environment. While allergens can be anywhere in your home, there are ways to maximize your impact by targeting the most common places that the allergens hide.
Here are the top 10 tips to help reduce indoor allergens and make your cleaning more efficient.
1. Clean Air
Ideally, your Spring Cleaning should be done early in the season so that you can open windows and ventilate your home without letting pollen in. An indoor air cleaner like a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Arresting) air purifier can also help capture allergen particles like pet dander, dust, dust mite debris, spores from plants, mold and smoke.
2. Carpets and rugs
Carpets are the ideal place for dust and dust mites to live, especially if it is a shaggy or high pile carpet. It’s important to vacuum weekly, or more frequently if you have pets, but in order to completely remove your carpet of dust and other allergens, a professional steam cleaning is necessary every 12 to 18 months. Don’t waste your energy trying to do it yourself, as puddles and long drying times could lead to mold problems. Every 6 months, area rugs should be taken outside, aired out and beaten with a broomstick.
Dust mites love to feed off the dead skin cells in your mattress and bed sheets. Wash your sheets, duvets and duvet covers in hot water to kill dust mites, or freeze any non-washable bedding overnight. Use dust-proof mattress and pillow covers to minimize your exposure while you are in bed. And if you have a pet, make sure to keep them off your bed.
4. Curtains and Blinds
We open and close blinds and curtains daily, but they are usually an afterthought in our regular cleaning routines. Spring is the perfect time to do a deep cleaning on window coverings to prepare for the many months of sunshine and fresh air. Dust build up on blinds and curtains is expected, but window coverings in the kitchen or dining room could also have potentially harmful food allergens or bacteria on the surface if they were touched with unwashed hands. Wipe blinds with a damp cloth and if possible, wash curtains in hot water.
5. Fans and lamp shades
Ceiling fans, bathroom fans and lamp shades collect a lot of dust, pet hair and other allergens over the winter months. Clean them with a damp rag to remove the dust. Never use a dry cloth since this just stirs up dust mite allergens.
6. Piles Of “Stuff”
It’s easy to build and forget about piles of paper, laundry or magazines around your house. Cockroaches love to linger in these piles, giving them a place where they can shed body parts, and leave saliva and feces that can trigger both asthma and allergies.
7. Monitor Humidity In Your Home
Use a humidity monitor to make sure that the humidity in your home is less than 50% at all times. Mold and mildew thrive in high humidity, and mold spores can trigger allergic reactions, exacerbate asthma or cause respiratory infections. If needed, use a dehumidifier to keep humidity levels low in damp areas such as basements. Any visible mold should be cleaned with a diluted vinegar solution to kill the mold entirely.
8. Kitchen Appliances
Crumbs and spilled food inside or under your oven, toaster or microwave can attract cockroaches. The best way to prevent a cockroach infestation is to make sure that you do not have any food sources like unclean surfaces and uncovered food lying around. Fully clean the inside of your appliances and the spaces under and around them.
9. Linen Closet
Some linens rarely make it out of the closet, which provides a perfect place for dust mites to live. Empty out your linen closet and wash everything in hot water to kill any dust mites. Make sure to wipe down each shelf with a damp cloth while your closet is empty.
10. Outdoor Allergens
It may surprise some, but pollen and other plant allergens can cause allergic reactions indoors. Pollen can be brought into the house on clothes or shoes, and by pets. Thoroughly clean any rugs or mats located at the entrance of your house and make sure outdoor footwear is stored away from your living area.