How to Clean Your Home without Aggravating Your Allergies
Do you suffer from debilitating migraines, itchiness, burning sensations, and trouble breathing while trying to clean your home? You’re not alone – our allergy specialists frequently see patients who struggle to effectively clean their homes without bothersome symptoms.
Unfortunately, it’s easy for allergy sufferers stuck in a vicious cycle regarding home cleaning. While cleaning is necessary to alleviate allergy symptoms, it’s easy to skip it because of the discomfort it brings. The thought of going through the sneezing, itching, and other allergy symptoms that cleaning can trigger makes it challenging to stay motivated.
That’s why we’ve put together our list of the best tips to follow when cleaning to minimize the impact of allergy symptoms.
1. Take Antihistamines Before Cleaning
Over-the-counter antihistamines take around 30 minutes to begin taking effect and peak in efficacy around 1 to 2 hours after being taken. Thus, taking antihistamines before the start of your cleaning may lessen or prevent your allergy symptoms from occurring. Otherwise, you may prolong your symptoms if you wait until after the cleaning has begun.
2. Open Windows & Doors
Opening your windows and doors while cleaning will help increase the ventilation while cleaning and “can also reduce risks from particles resuspended during cleaning,” per the EPA. However, if you have seasonal allergies, check your area’s pollen and mold counts before cleaning to prevent outside air from triggering your allergies and making things worse.
3. Wear a N95 Respirator
Dust accumulates and settles in a home over time and becomes airborne when disturbed. An N95 respirator protects you from inhaling dust and other allergens by capturing them on the outside of your mask. An N95 respirator provides a high level of protection against airborne allergens because of its tight seal around the mouth and nose.
It’s important to clarify that an N95 respirator differs from a surgical mask. A typical face mask (like a surgical mask) does not fit as tightly on one’s face and can allow particles to leak in around the edge of the mask. Some masks also advertise themselves as “dust masks” but do not provide the same level of protection against smaller particles than dust, such as mold.
4. Use HEPA Filter Vacuums
Sweeping with a broom is not an effective way to trap and eliminate dust. Worse, regular vacuums can suck up dust and simply blow it out the other end of the vacuum.
A HEPA vacuum filters harmful particles out of the air passing through the vacuum. Put simply, HEPA filters help prevent dust from being released back into your home and triggering your allergic response. There are similar benefits to using a HEPA filter in your HVAC system.
5. Swap Cleaning Products
Those with severe allergies may unknowingly be allergic to their cleaning products, particularly those used in the kitchen and bathroom. Scented cleaning products such as Febreze and Lysol cleaning wipes can be particularly problematic for those with sensitivities due to their strong odor.
Opt instead for unscented or natural alternatives specifically formulated for those with allergies. For example, vinegar, rubbing alcohol, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide are all safe and unscented alternatives.
6. Steps After Cleaning
Dust kicked up during the cleaning process may stay airborne for a period of time after the cleaning is complete. Thus, consider leaving your environment for a few hours before removing your mask and settling back in.
During cleaning, dust may settle on your skin and clothes, especially after cleaning hard-to-reach areas. It’s crucial to avoid redistributing this dust throughout your home. To do so, consider changing your clothes and taking a shower after cleaning is complete.
7. Preventative Tips
Here are some tips to help prevent the accumulation of allergens in your home in the first place:
- Hire a cleaning service: If cleaning is still problematic for your allergies, consider hiring a professional cleaning service. Sophia Kennan, Vice President of Client Experience at Transcend Home Cleaning, emphasizes that “a cleaning service can improve your personal wellness, reduce stress, and keep your environment free of harmful allergens.” By entrusting your cleaning needs to experts, you can ensure your home is thoroughly cleaned and free of allergens without compromising your health.
- Clean more frequently: To prevent the accumulation of irritants like dust, it’s best to clean more frequently. By increasing your cleaning frequency, you can effectively reduce the amount of dust and other allergens in your home, resulting in a cleaner and healthier environment.
- Skip carpeting – If possible, limit the amount of carpeting in your living environment. A vacuum can only do so much to rid allergens trapped in carpeting. Amazingly, it’s estimated that carpeting can contain up to one pound per square foot of dirt. Smooth flooring (like hardwoods) are considerably easier to clean.
- Declutter: Clutter in your home creates more surface area for dust and allergens to accumulate. Additionally, it’s difficult to clean certain items if they are buried under clutter.
- Washing bedding frequently: Those with dust mite allergies can benefit greatly from regularly washing their linens every seven days.