Every allergy season, millions experience symptoms ranging from itchy eyes to runny noses to difficulty breathing. One of the first things people who suffer from these symptoms do is avoid going outdoors to reduce pollen exposure. However, the culprit that causes these symptoms may be things at home, such as mold, dust mites, and pet dander.
Identifying the source of your symptoms and maintaining a clean living space are essential to fighting off possible allergies. These 13 expert cleaning tips will help you minimize your allergen exposure and prioritize your spring cleaning checklist.
Brush Pets Regularly
Pet hair is a significant dust component, so regularly brushing your pet is an excellent way to prevent allergens from accumulating at home.
Use safe pet brushes to clear excess hair and dispose of them properly and hygienically.
Bathe Your Pet
Bathing your four-legged friend on a regular basis helps protect them from allergens that cling to their fur and wash away dander before it accumulates in your home.
Cleaning your furry loved ones at least once a month also rinses away shedding hair that gets transferred to your carpets, rugs, and furniture.
If you decide to bathe your pet at home, use pet-safe soaps and lukewarm water, and ensure you thoroughly clean the area after you finish.
Invest in a Humidifier
According to Healthline, breathing higher humidity air from a humidifier can reduce the discomfort and symptoms of allergies. Humidifiers reduce allergens by maintaining optimal humidity levels (40-50%), controlling dust mites, moisturizing nasal passages, and minimizing airborne irritants. They contribute to improved indoor air quality and provide relief for allergy sufferers. However, proper cleaning and maintenance are essential for optimal results.
Ensuring proper ventilation is one of the main steps you can take to eliminate allergens from the air at home.
Paper filters are commonly used in air conditioners and furnaces to trap large particles like dust. However, particles like bacteria, mold, and types of pollen can slip through the fibers in regular filters, meaning that they can circulate through your ductwork and blow back into your home.
To prevent this, replace or clean your air filters regularly. Replacing air filters every 90 days and opting for HEPA filters is recommended.
To prevent dust buildup on furniture, you should dust commonly used living items—such as furniture and electronics— every week and dust hard-to-reach spots like ceiling fan blades, the ceiling, corners, and door frames at least once every month.
Ensure you use a proper dusting device that can help trap dust; this way, you’re not spreading dust around your house while cleaning.
Clean Floors, Carpets, and Rugs
It’s common for outdoor allergens to be brought into even the cleanest households, whether through shoes or the paws of our furry friends.
Your carpets and rugs trap airborne dust when someone walks over them; regular sweeping and vacuuming help to keep the floor allergen-free.
Rugs and carpets should be vacuumed weekly and deep cleaned once each season.
Bedding items are a great place for microscopic allergens like dust mites to burrow. Since we spend much of our life in bed, maintaining clean bedding is vital to reduce exposure to potential allergens.
Adding protective layers to your mattress and pillows, like allergen-blocking or dust proof covers, helps keep your bed free of dust mites and other bacteria.
Ensure you wash all bedding sheets and accessories with hot water at least once a week.
Replace Old Mattresses
A typical used mattress can be home to up to 10 million dust mites. So if you suffer from allergies, it is a good idea to replace your bed if it’s old.
Dust mites can significantly affect those with asthma and pose significant health risks like chest tightness, difficulty breathing, and trouble sleeping caused by shortness of breath.
Clean Curtains and Blinds
Dust and other allergens like to accumulate on curtains and blinds since they are places where there’s not much movement; this is why you should clean them at least twice a month.
You can also gently vacuum drapes and curtains using a brush attachment.
If you have blinds, use a dust rag or a duster to clear away the dust that builds up.
Clean the Refrigerator
Most refrigerators are prone to moisture buildup that can promote mold growth.
To prevent mold from growing, wipe any excess moisture and keep a close eye on your food so you can throw away expired items.
Remove shelves and drawers when cleaning the fridge; spray the inside and the removable parts with 0.5 vinegar and 0.5 water solution before drying.
Wash Blankets and Stuffed Animals
It is common for children to get attached to blankets or stuffed animals and may even carry them wherever they go, exposing them to outdoor allergens.
To keep these items clean and allergen free, you should wash them regularly.
Use mild detergents for delicate items and garment bags to prevent tears or damage.
Scrub Sinks and Tubs
Tubs, showers, sinks, and faucets should be scrubbed with bleach at least once a month.
If you don’t like using bleach, you can try making a cleaning scrub using baking soda, cleaning vinegar, essential oils, and Castille soap, which effectively removes dirt, mold, and scum.
Wipe surfaces with a squeegee after showering to prevent mold and scum from building up.
Wash Rugs and Bath Mats
Remember to wash any mats or rugs, especially the ones that soak up water.
Not only do they collect dirt and dust, but they can also store mold as they absorb moisture around the shower. Opting for machine-washable bathroom rugs will make this task easier.
You can also turn on your bathroom vent or open your bathroom window one hour daily to lower moisture levels.
This originally appeared on Planet Natural.
Melissa Pino is a biologist, master gardener, and regular contributor for Planet Natural. Melissa's work focuses on promoting environmentally-friendly practices, helping people create healthy gardens and finding ways to achieve overall health and wellness.