Spring Cleaning For Allergy Sufferers

May 2010

In a recent survey by the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, about 20 percent of the U.S. population suffer from allergies and asthma, and their conditions are exacerbated by the tiny dry particles floating around our homes.  The natural response to this is to keep our homes sparkling clean, but unfortunately some of the products we use to rid our home of allergens contain irritating ingredients themselves. 

Dust mites, mold, and pet dander are major issues for allergy sufferers, but chemical fumes from cleaning products and spray air fresheners can also be major detriments to your household's air quality.

For allergy sufferers, the best types of cleaning products are those that are non-toxic.  "Green" cleaning products are better for those with allergies, but read the labels carefully, as some of these products still contain irritating substances.  Some of the best anti-allergy cleaning solutions can be found right in your own home.  Baking soda and vinegar work wonders in the natural cleaning world.  Homemade solutions made from these products can help keep your home spotless and clean for a minimal cost and at a minimal hazard.  If the smell of vinegar bothers you, add some drops of lemon juice to your solution. 

Most toilet cleaners use very strong chemicals like hydrochloric acid or chlorine. Undiluted vinegar works just as well and won't put a bunch of harsh chemicals in the air.

For cleaning surfaces, use a spray bottle that contains one part vinegar and one part water to naturally disinfect countertops and other surfaces.  Do not use this on marble countertops;  specific cleaning products are required for marble surfaces.

To fight nasty odors, mix some baking soda and water and apply to a microfiber cloth for scrubbing dirt and stains.

For allergy sufferers, try to avoid using chemical cleaning products altogether.  All that is really needed for efficient dusting is a good, clean microfiber cloth.

Many modern homes also contain carpeting, and while it may be pretty and pleasant to bare feet, carpet is a haven for allergens.  If you can't lose the carpet, you will have to aggressively clean your floors to reduce the amount of dust mites and other allergens who live there. 

To reduce the amount of pollen coming into your home and sticking to the carpet, try and mandate a "no shoes indoors" policy for all.  Each day, vacuum high traffic areas with a HEPA filter vacuum.  Vacuum other areas every few days at least.  Don't forget about bath and area rugs.

Consider buying or renting a vapor-steam cleaner, which is very effective in wiping out germs, grime, and dust from floors, furniture, drapes, tiles, countertops, and more without aggravating allergies.  Be sure that the machine is a vapor steam-cleaner instead of a water-extraction cleaner which uses a chemical cleaning solution and water, since those types can contribute to mold and mildew.

Dust mites are the chief indoor allergy culprits.  They thrive on moisture and live off of human skin.  Wash all bedding and sheets on the hottest setting at least once a week to control the dust mite population in your pillows and sheets.  Don't forget about the kids' stuffed animals.  Launder them on the hottest setting.  If they cannot be washed in hot water, put them in the freezer for a few hours, then wash them in cold water.  This will help get rid of dust mites.

Home cleaning should be an important part of your allergy management plan.  Cleaning reduces the amount of allergens in your home, which should help to alleviate your allergy symptoms.


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