Spring Cleaning

Cleaning the Right Way to Remove Allergens

For those affected by eczema, things such as dust, pet dander, mold, and/or cleaning products can be triggers.

Cleaning chores: vacuuming hardwood floor. Wide angle.When you’re done with spring-cleaning, you may assume you’ve eliminated any allergy triggers that were lurking in your home. But the truth is, if you don’t clean the right way, you might be making the problem worse.

More than 30 million Americans have some form of eczema, 40 million are living with allergies, and 25 mil- lion have asthma. 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. To maximize your cleaning efforts to reduce allergens, consider these simple tips from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s (AAFA) asthma & allergy friendly™ Certification Program.

  • Dusting effectively will help reduce allergens in your home. 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, especially if they contain harsh chemicals, strong odors or volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Choose products that contain none of these irritants, but also beware of “green” labels, as some of these solutions may be made with natural allergenic ingredients, such as lemon, coconut, or tea-tree oils.


  • Use a 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 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 prosper.


  • If children live in your home, look for Certified plush toys. Dust mites, mold and pet dander can accumulate on plush toys over time. 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.


Keep in mind, while demand for allergen control products continues to grow, there is little regulation governing product claims. AAFA’s asthma & allergy friendly™ Certification Program helps consumers evaluate and verify the allergen-reducing effectiveness of a variety of products, from cleaning supplies, air cleaning devices, and vacuums to toys, bedding, home improvement products, paints, clothes washers and more. For more information, visit this page of the AAFA’s website: www.aafa.org/certified.

Originally published by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Reproduced with permission.