Cleaning the Home to Eliminate Allergens
By G Clark
Allergies are nothing without the allergens that actually trigger them, so the key to living comfortably with allergies is to control the triggers, particularly the ones present in our own homes. Pet dander and pollen are obvious triggers, but other common household allergens include dust, dust mites and even mold. These allergens are airborne and adhere to floors, furniture and other surfaces. Dust is especially worrisome; it acts as a sponge that absorbs other contaminants and then re-releases them over time.
So how do you take control? The key is a thorough and regular cleaning regimen, but it is important to use the right techniques and the proper supplies. Otherwise, your efforts can be counterproductive. With the right efforts, it’s possible to enjoy your home like someone who doesn’t even have allergies.
The Dos and Don’ts of Dusting
For allergy sufferers, dusting is the most crucial cleaning step. Dust mites thrive in it, and dusts acts as a collection site for a wide range of other triggers. Unfortunately, dusting is one of the easiest steps to get wrong. Most people’s dusting instincts make things worse by churning and redistributing the dust. You can use a dust mop to reach hard-to-reach spots, but the majority of dusting should be done with damp cloth or a microfiber cloth. Always wear a mask while dusting, and try to minimize clutter and knickknacks, which provide dust with much more surface area to collect on.
It’s always a good idea to vacuum immediately after dusting, but you can vacuum much more often than that. In fact, you can’t vacuum too much, and it’s a good idea to do so daily if you have the time. Don’t limit vacuuming to just the carpets. Other hotspots include the furniture and drapes. Keep in mind that, like dusting, vacuuming can kick around dust, so wear a mask. For optimal performance, use a vacuum with a HEPA filter. It will trap the finest particles and prevent the vacuum from releasing them back into the air.
The bedroom is a problem zone. Dust mites thrive on your pillows and in your blankets and sheets. It’s also very important to neutralize allergens in the bedroom because of how much time you spend there. Just removing triggers in the bedroom can increase the quality of life for most allergy sufferers considerably. Try to wash the bedding every week, and use hot water that is at least 130 degrees, which ensure dust mite death. Encasing your mattress and pillows in allergy-proof covers can help limit dust mites and make the cleaning process easier.
Use Natural Cleaning Products
Commercial cleaners have harsh chemicals that can wreak havoc on our respiratory systems; they especially cause many problems for allergy sufferers. Natural solutions include baking soda, vinegar and lemon, and there are also many green cleaning products on the market that are highly effective.
Avoid Pet Dander
The easiest way to avoid pet dander is not to have pets, but that’s an unacceptable option for pet lovers. Nevertheless, dander, saliva and urine are significant triggers that are easily airborne. The bottom line is that you have to increase the cleaning regimen to account for this extra allergen source. Additionally, you should have at least one pet-free zone, in addition to the bedroom, where you can always find relief.
Prevent Mildew and Mold
Preventing mildew and mold is an obvious concern for all homeowners. Allergy sufferers, however, are much more sensitive to it and often experience discomfort at otherwise inconsequential levels. The primary trouble areas are the bathrooms. Ensure you have proper ventilation and operate exhaust fans, and always paint and tile the walls with mold-resistance materials. Thoroughly scrub the shower, shower curtain and tub, and be preemptive about it. Don’t wait for the spots to show up.
Keep Pollen Outdoors
Keep your windows and doors closed at night. If you open them during the day, avoid the peak pollen times in your area. Preferably, rely instead on your air conditioning, ventilation and filtration. Avoid going outside when the pollen count is high. If you must, then be very careful when reentering the home. Remove clothes carefully, and wash them immediately. Never hang clothes outdoors to dry.
Pests in the home are an obvious nuisance, but there are hidden aspects too. There are proteins in droppings and shed skin that can trigger allergies. To control pests, use natural options. Chemical pesticides can exacerbate the problem, and a natural solution like boric acid works just as well. If you have a severe problem, then call a pro. Professional exterminators have solutions at their disposal that are appropriate for allergy sufferers. Cleaning the home regularly will help to avoid the initial problem.
Control the Humidity
Recommended humidity is between 30 and 50 percent. At 55 and above, most allergy suffers will experience discomfort. Many new houses have humidity control built into the central air system. If your home does not, consider using a dehumidifier or humidifier to reach the proper level. Forty percent humidity is optimal, and it will also help to prevent mold and mildew from forming in the home.
Use a HEPA Air Purifier
HEPA filters trap airborne particulates, down to 0.3 microns in size. The great news here is that most all known allergens are actually larger than that. So an air purifier that uses a HEPA filter will remove pollen, pet dander, dust, dust mites, mold spores and pest byproducts that can trigger your allergies. HEPA filtration provides a tremendous beneficial effect for allergy sufferers, and some sufferers can completely rid themselves of symptoms while in their homes. Keep in mind that not all of these allergens are always airborne, which is why a vacuum with a HEPA filter is important too.
Clean Air Plus
A portable HEPA air purifier may be the greatest gift that you can give yourself or any allergy sufferer, but the benefits aren’t limited to allergy sufferers alone. Coupled with a thorough cleaning schedule, a HEPA air purifier ensures optimal indoor air quality. That is especially important in high-pollution areas, and it’s particularly important for children who are most prone to the damage contaminants can cause. The time to end your suffering is now. Give your family clean air. Buy a HEPA air purifier from Clean Air Plus.
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