“People think of spring allergies as being all about pollen and reducing its affects,” said allergist James Sublett, M.D., president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). “But getting rid of indoor allergens can be just as important to diminishing symptoms. Thoroughly cleaning your home can help eliminate allergens and keep new ones from easily entering.”
To help with spring cleaning while reducing spring allergy symptoms, ACAAI allergists have put together useful tips for removing allergens in the home, and advice on how to avoid accidentally letting more in.
1. Elbow grease works wonders
Bathrooms, basements and tiled areas can be prone to mold. The key to reducing mold is moisture control. Be sure to use bathroom fans and clean any standing water immediately. Scrub any visible mold from surfaces with detergent and water, and completely dry. You can help ward off mold, as well as dust mites, by keeping home humidity below 50 percent and cleaning gutters regularly.
2. A fresh breeze isn’t always fresh
Signs of spring may make you want to open your windows wide, but that can lead to unwanted pollen particles entering the home and causing symptoms like sneezing and eye irritation. And before you reach for the air fresheners and candles, be aware that chemicals found in these items can spur asthma attacks. Your best option is to opt for natural aromas from the oven. It’s best to avoid anything with strong odors or smells.
3. Whole house deep cleaning
You can get a head start on spring cleaning by changing your HVAC air filters every three months and using filters with a MERV rating of 11 or 12. Also be sure to vacuum regularly to reduce the level of dust mite debris. You can also help control dust mites by putting special dust-proof covers on pillows, mattresses and box springs. Remove and clean the covers frequently. Use a cyclonic vacuum, which spins dust and dirt away from the floor, or a vacuum with a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter.
4. Keep furry friends off the couch
After spending many days indoors over the winter, chances are that dander from your pet is present in your home. Reduce pet allergens by vacuuming frequently and washing upholstery, including your pet’s bed. Also be sure to keep your pet out of the bedroom at all times to ensure you can sleep symptom-free.
Even when you reduce the number of allergens in your home, allergy symptoms can be bothersome. Those with moderate to severe seasonal and perennial allergies should be under the care of a board-certified allergist, who can identify the source of suffering and develop a treatment plan to eliminate symptoms.