Spring Cleaning Tips: Clear Your House and Your Nasal Passages
David Kaufman, MD FAAAAI
Getting rid of built-up dust and mold can ease allergy symptoms
It’s that time of year again – time to start thinking about spring cleaning your home. Unless you’re a fan of itchy eyes and sneezing fits, it’s time to clean out the allergens that have been piling up in your home over the winter. You don’t have to dread spring cleaning, though. With a few tips and tricks, your house and your allergies will be in check for the sunny season.
Make a schedule - What areas do you overlook during routine cleaning? Which rooms need the most work? Those are probably the best places to start. Having a plan for tackling the tough rooms will help you stay focused on the task at hand. Spread the work out throughout the week so that you only have to do a little maintenance each day. This will help keep your home from becoming an allergy-trigger zone.
Change your air filters - It’s not easy to clean your whole house, but there are some tools that can help. Change your air filters every three months and use filters with a high MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) rating, such as 11 or 12, for better filtration. Changing your home’s air filter ensures cleaner, fresher and healthier air which is better for everyone in your home, especially kids, elderly, and those suffering from allergies and asthma.
Vacuum once or twice a week - Vacuum regularly to help reduce the presence of dust mites. Use a cyclonic vacuum, which spins dust and dirt away from the floor. Some allergens, like pet dander, are so small that they pass right through a regular vacuum filter, so make sure you’re using a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter to catch and trap particles from shooting back into the air you’re breathing in.
Dust weekly – One of the number one cleaning tips for allergy sufferers is to dust using a microfiber cloth. Typical dusters like brooms and feather dusters can kick up more dust than they remove, and even spread allergens around the house. Microfiber is specially designed to trap tiny particles and will do a better job of removing dust overall.
Avoid scented cleaners and detergents – strong fragrances can trigger allergy symptoms. Look for fragrance free products.
Wash bedding and stuffed animals weekly – Your sheets may seem harmless but think about how much they’re actually covered with. Human and pet hair, dander, pollen, dust mites and a lot of other things you probably don’t want to think about may be sitting between your bedding. Wash your bed linens at least once a week to keep those allergy-causing particles in check.
Bust the mold – Mold can thrive anywhere there is water. Reducing moisture is the key to eliminating mold, which can be found in your basement, bathroom, kitchen or in a pile of dead leaves in your backyard. Use bathroom fans and clean up any standing water immediately. Scrub any visible mold from surfaces with detergent and water and then make sure surfaces are completely dry. Help prevent mold by keeping home humidity below 60 percent and cleaning gutters regularly.
Protect yourself – Cleaning will likely stir up all the winter dust throughout your home. Limit your exposure by wear rubber gloves, masks, and protective clothing to help guard against skin irritations and allergic reactions.
Limit the fresh air – Although spring breezes are very tempting, it’s better if you keep windows closed during the spring allergy season. Breezes and open windows can bring in unwanted pollen that can make your allergies flare. Keep windows closed, including in your car where you should use your air conditioning system as a first line of defense.
It’s probably not possible to entirely rid your home of allergens. That’s where a board-certified allergist can help. Allergists are specially trained to help you take control of your allergies and asthma. To find one of our Asthma, Allergy, and ENT centers in North Louisiana and to learn more about the specialties our team can help with, visit our website.