How to Spring Clean Your Home and Reduce Eczema Flares

A woman smiling while cleaning a large glass door, wearing gloves.

By Melissa Tanoko

Published On: Apr 30, 2020

Last Updated On: Mar 11, 2024

Spring is a welcome return to longer, brighter days. But it can also shine a light on dust and dirt. This could be why 74% of Americans clean their homes every spring.1

For people with eczema, though, spring cleaning isn’t that simple. It can help prevent flares caused by indoor allergens, irritants and bacteria. But since the act of cleaning can also cause flares, many may decide not to bother.

We reached out to Dr. Ari Zelig, an allergist and immunologist with Charleston ENT and Allergy in Charleston, South Carolina, and Morgan Maier, a dermatology physician assistant at Seattle Children’s Hospital in Seattle, Washington, to find out how to prevent flares while making the most of your spring cleaning.

Why spring cleaning matters when you have eczema

Home is a cozy space to unwind, but it also houses a few major allergens that can trigger eczema.

“When it comes to indoor allergens, we most commonly refer to dust mites, pets, mold and cockroaches,” said Dr. Zelig.

Although these allergens are usually associated with respiratory symptoms, dust mites, pet dander, mold and cockroaches can cause eczema flares.2 Minimizing or preventing them at home can help avoid future flares.

What to wear

If you have eczema, protecting your skin from dirt, allergens, chemicals, water and sweat while cleaning is vital.

“If you are stirring up dust and animal dander while cleaning, it is wise to wear

clothes that cover up your active skin lesions,” said Dr. Zelig. “This measure, together with the use of gloves, can prevent chemicals and allergens from coming in contact with your skin, which can lead to further inflammation and eczema flares.”

People with eczema “should try to wear long sleeves that are lightweight so that they have protection from external allergens touching their skin, like dust mites or irritants from cleaning products,” said Maier.

She also recommends breathable fabrics made of cotton or Tencel (made of lyocell and modal fibers) to prevent irritation from working up a sweat.

Wearing gloves is also advisable, especially if you have hand eczema. Maier recommends using cotton gloves for dry work like dusting. If the tips of your fingers don’t usually flare, you may cut the fingertips off the gloves for extra dexterity.

For washing bathrooms or mopping floors, waterproof gloves are essential. They help guard hands against the skin barrier breakdown that can occur when skin is wetted and dried repeatedly. They also protect the skin from cleaning chemicals.

However, rubber gloves should be avoided as the latex can cause allergies. Opt for unlined vinyl or neoprene ones instead. Maier recommends wearing a pair of cotton gloves inside loose-fitting waterproof ones. She explained that this helps reduce chafing. Be sure to give your hands a break every 15-20 minutes to prevent them from getting too sweaty.

Eczema-friendly cleaning tools

The right tools can help you get the job done quickly and thoroughly without irritating your skin.

When possible, use cleaning tools with long handles instead of scrubbing with rags to give your hands a break. Maier recommends microfiber mops. “You can use them dry to dust your walls,” she said. “You can use them wet to wash the tile in your bathroom, so you’re not using a sponge. And it gives you more distance from the products.”

Microfiber cloths are often recommended as a great way to disinfect surfaces using only water. While some research has found they can help reduce bacteria,3 other studies show that cotton cloths are more effective than microfiber after multiple washes.4

Eczema-friendly cleaning products

Many cleaning agents have fragrances or harsh chemicals that can trigger flares. But knowing which ingredients to avoid can be a challenge.

“I would recommend having patch testing performed with your allergist or dermatologist in order to identify your contact allergens,” said Dr. Zelig. “This will allow you to screen ingredient lists and to generate shopping lists for products that are free of your allergens.”

Maier recommends homemade cleaning products. She explained that a 50/50 water and vinegar mix can be used to clean and disinfect, while baking soda is good for scrubbing.

What to clean

Spring cleaning tasks can quickly multiply. Set limits on your to-do list by targeting the areas where indoor allergens are most likely to be found. 

1. Windows

Washing windows in spring helps decrease dust and mold while improving your view of the new leaves outside.

Dust window frames and blinds, then wash the windows, inside and out. If you notice mold on the windows or frames, be sure to remove it. Also, check for any openings or cracks in the frames, which can allow mold to thrive.

“When washing windows, wash your screens too,” said Maier. “I take all mine out to my yard. I line them up against the deck and spray them with a hose.”

2. Bedroom

Since people typically spend six to 12 hours in the bedroom each night, minimizing allergens here is especially important.

“Dust mite covers for the bedding are helpful,” said Dr. Zelig. These can trap the mites inside and minimize their allergenic potential. If you invest in dust mite covers, look for products made with breathable fabrics.

If you have children, cleaning their stuffed toys is another priority. Some research has shown that washing plush toys in hot water or putting them in the freezer overnight reduces dust mite populations.5

3. Living Room

With its many books, electronics, knick-knacks and fabrics, the living room is a magnet for dust and pet hair. Give the whole area a good dusting.

Maier stressed the importance of pulling larger furniture pieces like sofas away from the wall and vacuuming the dust and dirt collected underneath.

Area rugs and carpets can also store large quantities of dust. Vacuum them thoroughly. If you live in a humid climate, consider steam cleaning them to reduce dust mites.6 Fabric furniture and heavy drapes should be vacuumed and steam cleaned, if possible.

4. Bathrooms

Reducing mold is the top priority here. Wash any windows and check the frames for mold. Then, wash or replace your shower curtains and liners.

Empty out bathroom cabinets and clean them thoroughly. Look for signs of mold that may indicate a leak.

Check for openings around bathroom pipes that can allow pests like cockroaches to enter your home.

5. Kitchen

Deep cleaning your kitchen can help prevent cockroach invasions and mold growth.

Pull the fridge and range away from the wall to clear away any dust or food particles.

Empty the cupboards and clean them thoroughly. Under your sink, check for openings or signs of mold.

6. Clear the air

With pollen season on the way, spring is the perfect time to clean air conditioners and purifiers. Maier also recommends taking fans apart and wiping them down.

“Replace the filters on vacuums, air filters and furnaces, making sure that all the filters have been replaced within a reasonable amount of time,” said Maier.

Keep up the good work

Maier and Dr. Zelig agree that keeping on top of cleaning is beneficial for people with eczema, especially for those with allergies to dust mites, pet dander, mold or cockroaches.

“The more regularly you continue to take environmental precautions, the more effective the measures will be,” said Dr. Zelig. He recommends “very regular dusting, vacuuming and washing sheets in hot water once weekly.” Maier advises vacuuming fabric surfaces like sofas and curtains monthly.

In addition to reducing the risk of flares, keeping up a recurring cleaning schedule has another benefit — you’ll have less work to do next spring!


1. 2023 Spring Cleaning Survey. The American Cleaning Institute. Published March 8, 2023. Accessed February 13, 2024.

2. Roul S, Léauté-Labrèze C, Perromat M, Ducombs G, Taïeb A. Sensibilisation à la blatte évaluée par tests épicutanés dans la dermatite atopique de l’enfant [Sensitization to cockroach allergens evaluated by skin tests in children with atopic dermatitis]. Ann Dermatol Venereol. 2001;128(2):115-7. French. PMID: 11275584. 

3. Smith DL, Gillanders S, Holah JT, Gush C. Assessing the efficacy of different microfibre cloths at removing surface micro-organisms associated with healthcare-associated infections. J Hosp Infect. 2011;78(3):182-6.

4. Diab-Elschahawi M, Assadian O, Blacky A, et al. Evaluation of the decontamination efficacy of new and reprocessed microfiber cleaning cloth compared with other commonly used cleaning cloths in the hospital. Am. J. Infect. Control. 2010;38(4):289-292.

5. Chang C-F, Wu FF-S, Chen C-Y, Crane J, Siebers R. Effect of freezing, hot tumble drying and washing with eucalyptus oil on house dust mites in soft toys. Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2011; 22: 638–641.

6. Colloff MJ, Taylor C, Merrett TG. The use of domestic steam cleaning for the control of house dust mites. Clin Exp Allergy. 1995;25(11):1061-1066.

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