Spring Cleaning and Indoor Allergens

A Dreaded Chore for the Allergy Sufferer. When it comes time for “Spring Cleaning”, the first thought for most people is to open all the windows and let the house air out. Unfortunately, people who suffer from seasonal allergies are not able to enjoy this luxury. Open windows bring in outside allergens such as pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds.

What Is Spring Cleaning?

Most people tackle the dreaded chore of deep cleaning in the spring, hence the name Spring Cleaning. The allergens inside the house—dust mites, animal dander, and mold—should be addressed on a weekly basis but seldom are, hence spring cleaning is mandatory for the allergic person.

So, what is spring cleaning? It is going through the house thoroughly cleaning every nook and cranny and sorting out cabinets, drawers, and closets. It means starting at the ceiling and working your way down to the floor, cleaning every square inch. All ceilings, walls, baseboards, floors, and the insides of closets and cabinets should be cleaned thoroughly.

Why go to such extreme measures? The population of indoor allergens will be reduced which will make your environment less harmful. Tackling allergens is quite simple—but not necessarily “easy.”

Molds and Mildew

Molds and mildew can be found in places that have high humidity. Indoor humidity should be maintained below 45 percent to reduce their growth. An air conditioner or dehumidifier should be used to reduce the humidity in a home. The humidity can be measured by using a hygrometer.

It is very important to filter the indoor air to rid it of dust and mold spores. To do this, be sure to clean or change the filters on a regular basis so the allergens are not recirculated. An electronic filter can be used to trap mold spores.

The central heat and air system in your home can become contaminated and be a breeding ground for molds, mildew, and other sources of contaminants. Once contaminated, the system can then distribute these enemy allergens throughout the home. It is recommended that the ductwork be cleaned as well because it is a big source of allergens.

To reduce mold spores in the home, you must remember the sources outside your home. Piles of leaves and mulch that are near the house need to be moved. Also the trees and brush that overhang your home need to be cut down or cut back. Remember mold spores become air borne and can enter the house easily.

There are many sources of mold on the inside of your home. Refrigerators, garbage cans, houseplants, bathrooms, and basements are all possible sources of mold growth. Look for leaky pipes, clogged drains, or bad water drainage systems beneath the ground surrounding your home.

Dust Mites

House dust is material that consists of a combination of many particles such as dust mites and their byproducts, food particles, human and animal dander (flakes of dead skin), bits of plant particles, insect parts and waste, mold and fungus, and bits of fabrics.

A natural resting place for airborne allergens and irritants is carpets. Carpets make a wonderful home for dust mites who live off human and animal dander.

Carpets create several problems for allergy sufferers. Not only do they harbor millions of dust mites, the padding beneath the carpet can contain irritant chemicals, and if the carpet is installed on concrete slabs, dampness can collect underneath which is conducive not only for dust mites, but for mold growth. Vacuuming the carpet regularly is important. There are products on the market now that help kill dust mites and get rid of their waste products.

The highest concentration of dust mites is usually found in bedrooms. To conquer the ever growing population of dust mites, a few preventative measures should be followed. First, box springs, mattresses and pillows should be completely encased in allergen-impermeable covers. All bedding should be washed in hot water to get rid of mites, their byproducts, and human skin flakes, the food source of the mites.

The window coverings in your home should be either shades or washable curtains. They are less apt to collect dust.

House Cleaning Tips

Cleaning Supplies Can Aggravate Allergies. Housecleaning can be troublesome for many allergy sufferers. Those with allergies can aggravate their already-existing symptoms by cleaning the house. Sometimes the cleaning supplies themselves can aggravate the allergy symptoms. To prevent breathing allergens that become disturbed while cleaning, wear a face dust mask. If the cleaning supplies cause you problems, there are alternative methods you can use.

  • To clean ceramic tile, where mold and mildew accumulate, use a combination of 1/4 cup baking soda, 1/2 cup white vinegar, one gallon warm water, and one cup ammonia.
  • To polish furniture, combine one teaspoon of lemon juice with one pint mineral or vegetable oil. For a spray, mix two teaspoons lemon oil and one pint mineral oil.
  • To clean the toilet bowl, combine baking soda and vinegar, or use 1/2 cup chlorine bleach by itself.
  • To clean windows and mirrors, mix three tablespoons ammonia, one tablespoon white vinegar, and 3/4 cup water. Wipe glass dry with a newspaper.
  • To remove and prohibit mold growth, a weak bleach solution should be used on the affected surfaces.
  • To avoid manifestation of cockroaches be sure to rid the house of newspapers, paper bags, and food particles. The kitchen cabinets and drawers should be emptied and washed out periodically.
  • Hire professional services to shampoo the carpets, and clean out air-conditioning ducts, heating ducts and chimneys.

Now that you have completed all the chores above, you will have a much healthier place to live. Just keep in mind that if you do these things on a regular basis, there will be no need for “spring cleaning” next year.

From Judy Tidwell, Your Guide to Allergies.

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