Spring-Cleaning Tips to Ensure an Allergy-Free Home
Your home is supposed to be your sanctuary, but if you’re one of the 50 million people in the U.S. that suffer from allergies, it might not always feel that way. Once pollen begins to bloom in the spring, those allergic to grass, tree pollen, dust, or pet dander may experience sneezing, itching, and other symptoms. While spring cleaning may feel overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be a daunting experience—download our Spring Cleaning Tips Checklist to ease symptoms and create an allergy-free home.
How Do Allergies Happen?
When you’re allergic to something, your body recognizes it as foreign and tries to fight it off. Symptoms include:
- Wheezing, coughing, tightness in the chest, and shortness of breath
- Itching in the nose, eyes, or the roof of the mouth
- Red, itchy, or watery eyes
- Runny or stuffy nose
Antibodies release chemicals into the blood to protect the body. Often, the tendency to develop allergies is hereditary, which means parents pass it to their children through genes. However, this isn’t always the case—some kids have allergies even if no family member is allergic. Some of the most common things that people are allergic to are carried through the air, including:
- Dust mites: These microscopic insects feed on dead skin cells that fall off our bodies.
- Pollen: Trees, weeds, and grasses release tiny particles into the air to fertilize other plants. Pollen allergies are seasonal.
- Molds: These microscopic fungi thrive in warm, moist environments. Outdoors, molds can be found in areas with poor drainage; indoors, it thrives in dark, poorly ventilated areas, such as a bathroom or a basement.
- Pets: These allergens are caused by pet dander and saliva; when animals lick themselves, the saliva gets on their person, and as it dries, particles settle into fabrics.
How to Turn Your Space into an Allergy-Free Zone
If you suffer from allergies, it’s important to stay on top of household chores to make sure that you have an allergy-free home. Spread these tasks throughout the week so you only need to do a little maintenance each day.
Replace Furnace Filters Regularly
If it’s warm out, you probably want to throw open windows and let fresh air in—don’t. If you suffer from allergies, it’s best to keep them closed; instead, you may want to switch on the AC unit. Your HVAC system will filter out allergens in your air ducts.
Pro Tip: Consider using a high-efficiency furnace filter to reduce the number of allergens in your home. In general, experts recommend changing your air filter seasonally.
Change Your Pillowcases and Sheets
Did you know that you collect pollen and other allergens on your clothes and hair throughout the day? These can transfer to your bedsheets, so wash your bedding in water that is at least 140°F at least once per week if you want to maintain an allergy-free home. You should also consider using a hot drying cycle to make sure you’ve removed pollen, dust mites, and other allergens.
You may also consider switching to hypoallergenic bedding—materials like organic cotton, wool, bamboo, and microfiber are made of moisture-wicking, antimicrobial materials that are resistant to dust mites and mildew. Most allergists agree that silk is the best hypoallergenic fabric. To go the extra mile, apply woven covers with zippered encasements on pillows, mattresses, box springs, and other items that are unlikely to be washed regularly.
If you have time for one spring cleaning activity, this is a good place to start that can help you feel less stressed—get rid of “dust collectors” from bedrooms, including stuffed toys, wall hangings, books, knickknacks, and artificial flowers. If possible, avoid wool blankets and down quilts.
Vacuum and Dust Frequently
If you have carpet, vacuum weekly to cut down on potential dust mites and pet dander in the carpet. You may also want to dust bookshelves and other surfaces that collect dust. Preferably, clean these surfaces with a microfiber or electrostatic material. These will hold on to the dust instead of spreading it around in the air. Poor quality vacuums can put dust into the air, so use a CERTIFIED asthma and allergy-friendly machine, if available. It’s also a good idea to remove and clean rugs, as they tend to collect a lot of dust.
Pro Tip: When you vacuum, dust and mold that has settled in your carpet will be uprooted—it might be beneficial to wear a mask to prevent yourself from breathing in any dust or allergens that get stirred up.
Windows and Blinds
The window treatments inside your home are natural dust collectors, so get into the habit of cleaning them regularly. Use an attachment to vacuum curtains or drapes at least once a month. If they’re washing machine-safe, throw them in for a cycle every few weeks. Try to clean blinds monthly with a microfiber cloth or blind cleaner.
Steer Clear of Dog, Cat, and Other Pet Allergies
During the winter, your pets probably spent more time snuggled up on the couch. Giving your dog or cat a bath can help to reduce the amount of dander they leave behind, and washing upholstery and pet beds will rid your home of fur, dander, and saliva. It can also help to wash your hands with soap and water after petting your dog or cat. It’s best to keep your animals out of bedrooms to reduce allergens where you sleep.
Keep Humidity Levels Low
It’s important to keep moisture under control when cleaning for allergies; if possible, use a humidity meter to monitor humidity levels. Try to keep it below 50 percent, and use a dehumidifier if needed to discourage mold growth and dust mites. In the bathroom, wipe down your walls and floors with a microfiber cloth each time you shower.
Care About Your Cleaning Supplies
Don’t use the same sponge every day—be sure to change it out and purge your supplies regularly if you want an allergy-free home. This includes changing the vacuum filter, pulling pet hair out of your broom, or replacing the head of your mop. You can also keep the air inside your home healthy by committing to using non-toxic cleaning products or natural alternatives, such as distilled white vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice.
While allergies are at their worst in the spring, allergens and mold can irritate you year-round. Download our Spring Cleaning Checklist to keep these tips top of mind and breathe easier inside your home.cleaning, declutter, DIY, home project, spring