If you suffer from allergies, whether they be seasonal, mold, pollen or any one of the many varieties out there, you know the misery it brings when they kick in. Days, or even weeks, of suffering from itchy, red eyes, congestion, sneezing and that overall sick feeling is not only intensely aggravating but can be a real disruption to your work, social and home life. Not to mention the cost of medications to try to relieve the symptoms just so you can get through another day. It can all make you want to scream and, sometimes, just give up.
But even if your allergies are severe, there are ways to ease them that do not involve more medication or sealing yourself off from the world. How you clean your home can have a profound effect on the degree to which you suffer from your allergies. Diligently keeping dust and mold at bay can tremendously help to ease your symptoms and make life (at home, anyway) a little bit better.
Although your home is probably already clean, making an extra effort to eliminate possible allergens early on before they can irritate you will help lessen the chance of a flare-up or worsening of symptoms. It's all about being proactive and consistent, and your eyes, nose, and throat will thank you for it. The following are some tips and guidelines to help maintain your home if you are an allergy sufferer:
In the Kitchen
- Keep counters and other surfaces clean and dry. Clean and wipe down counters regularly with detergent.
- Use a garbage can with a lid and empty trash daily
- Store food in sealed containers and never leave food sitting around. Check leftovers frequently and discard items that are out of date or moldy.
- Use your kitchen's exhaust fan to help reduce moisture and remove possible irritating fumes.
- Mop the floor and clean your cabinets, counter tops, and appliances on a weekly basis.
- Wipe up any moisture that may be standing, such as around sinks or in the refrigerator, and check for plumbing leaks around and under the sink.
- Wash the dish rack and keep free from standing water.
- Check and clean drip pans.
- A few times a year, empty and scrub the inside walls and shelves of the refrigerator. Do the same with utensil trays and drawers.
- Scrub down cabinet doors as needed.
In the Living Room/Bedroom
- Carpet cleaning is critical when trying to combat allergies. Vacuum once or twice a week with a vacuum that has a HEPA filter. Mop hard surface floors weekly and regularly wash any rugs or floor mats.
- Reduce clutter and anything that will collect dust, such as books, knickknacks, stuffed animals, or piles of clothing or paper. Dust all surfaces regularly with a dust-trapping cloth or device.
- Use covers for pillows and mattresses that will keep out dust mites. Wash all sheets, pillowcases, blankets and comforters weekly in hot water of at least 130 degrees. This is the temperature needed to kill dust mites.
- Keep windows closed and use air conditioning, especially in warmer or more humid climates. Replace all in-room filters and room unit air conditioner filters once a month. Keep the temperature in your home at least 70 degrees with a lower humidity level to decrease mold growth as well as dust mites.
- Clean all window sills and areas around windows regularly to remove dust and mold. Use a diluted bleach mixtures and be sure to wear a protective mask.
- Control pests with either a professional service or traps that you set in your home. Make sure there are no cracks leading outside in or around doors.
- Keep animals out of these areas, especially the bedroom, as much as possible. Bathe pets weekly or bi-weekly to reduce pet allergens.
In the Bathroom
- Scrub tile and other surfaces regularly to reduce mold growth. Remember to clean the shower curtain as well.
- Use an exhaust fan when showering and when finished, pull shower curtain open to help it to dry faster. Dry shower and tub surfaces after use.
- Check plumbing for any leaks around sinks, toilets, and tubs. Keep surfaces wiped clean and dry as much as possible.
- Wash all rugs and floor mats regularly.
Entryways and Outside Areas
- Keep outside areas near doors as clean as possible to avoid tracking in dirt or pollen. Sweep patios and entryways regularly and check for moisture or water that may be standing.
- Establish a place for shoes, coats and other outside clothing items to stay when entering your home, so dust and pollen are not brought in and scattered throughout your home.
- If you have a basement, check regularly for excess moisture or plumbing leaks. Proper ventilation can be a challenge, so be sure to monitor pest control, humidity level and regularly vacuum and wash rugs or mats.
General Cleaning Tips
- Always wear a mask and gloves when cleaning, especially when using chemical cleaning products.
- If possible, use natural cleaning products instead of chemical-laden commercial products, which may cause further irritation. Baking soda and vinegar are excellent cleaners and can be used almost anywhere and by anyone without fear of allergic or chemical reaction.
- Bleach can be used to get rid of mold, but must be diluted (3/4 cup to a gallon of water) and never mixed with ammonia or other cleaners.
- If you can, leave your home for a few hours after cleaning to avoid breathing in further fumes or allergens that may have been kicked up into the air.
- Have someone else do the cleaning, if possible. It is better to avoid exposure to allergens and chemicals as much as you possibly can.
Suffering from allergies can definitely create some difficulties and challenges in your daily life, but not any that can't be overcome with some diligence and effort. Taking the time to carefully check and monitor your home for allergy-inducing situations can help to create an environment that is much less irritating and much more comfortable. Taking these steps today will help to ensure that your home will be less a source of irritation and difficulty and more a place of comfort and rest - just as any home should be.