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Cleaning the Allergy-Friendly Way

May 12, 2014 - If your cleaning routine doesn’t specifically focus on allergen removal, you may be only moving dust around, sending allergens and irritating cleaning chemicals into the air, which can affect allergy and asthma symptoms.

For those with eczema dust, pet dander, mold or cleaning products can trigger a flare.

Cleaning chores: vacuuming hardwood floor. Wide angle.After a thorough cleaning, you might think you’ve gotten rid of allergy triggers lurking in your home. Truth is, if you don’t clean the right way, you might be making the problem worse.

If your cleaning routine doesn’t specifically focus on allergen removal, you may be only moving dust around, sending irritants into the air, which can affect allergy symptoms. To clean the allergy-friendly way, consider these simple tips from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA).

  • Use moist cloths or special dry dusters designed to trap and lock dust from hard and soft surfaces.
  • Certain cleaning products can also contribute to air-borne irritants. Choose cleaning products without harsh chemicals, strong odors or volatile organic compounds (VOCs). But be wary of “green” labels, as some of these solutions may be made with natural allergenic ingredients, such as lemon, coconut, or tea-tree oils.
  • Use an AAFA-certified vacuum that has a high efficiency filter with tight seams and seals to prevent particles from leaking out while you vacuum. Also, choose a style that requires minimal exposure during canister emptying or bag changes.
  • Rodent dander and cockroach particles are common household asthma triggers. However, some pesticides may do more harm than good for people with asthma and allergies. If you have a pest problem, look for an exterminator with expertise in integrated pest management and experience treating homes of people with asthma.
  • Whether you have a cat or dog, pet dander is present in most U.S. homes. If it is possible, keep pets out of the bedroom. If not, your cleaning routine should include frequently washing linens in your bedroom, where cat or dog dander can settle.
  • Place AAFA-certified allergen-barrier bedding on your mattresses and pillows. Wash your bedding at least once a week in 130+ degree hot water to kill mites and their eggs.
  • Mold, a common allergy trigger, can grow anywhere in your home where moisture is present. Look for cleaning products that help kill and prevent mold from returning. Also, keep household humidity below 50 percent and fix leaky pipes and cracks to reduce standing puddles of moisture where mold can flourish.
  • If children live in your home, look for AAFA-certified plush toys. Dust mites, mold and pet dander can accumulate on plush toys over time. AAFA-certified toys can be placed in the freezer for 24 hours, then rinsed in cold water to remove dead mites, and dried completely. Do this monthly.

Adapted from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Reproduced with permission.

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