When dust, chemicals, or strong scents trigger an allergic reaction of some kind, house cleaning can be a real problem. For some, having mild allergies may include a coughing fit or a couple of sneezes while more severe cases can lead to respiratory problems, hay fever, and skin reactions.
Now, the real problem is that neglecting home cleaning and allowing the buildup of dust and dirt is not ideal in any household, let alone one where there are allergy sufferers living. On the other hand, if you don’t have a maid or someone else to take care of home cleaning, you have to find a way to get cleaning tasks done in a safe manner that will not trigger your allergies.
With that said, here is the guide you, an allergy sufferer, needs to safely clean the house.
Gearing Up is Crucial
This cannot be stressed enough. Depending on the type of allergies you have, protecting your skin, eyes, and face is imperative for preventing triggers. The most common allergies are triggered by smell and/or breathing in dust particles or allergens; therefore, covering your nose and mouth while cleaning is very important.
Let’s take a look at the recommended protective gear for an allergy sufferer to wear when cleaning the house:
- A dust mask (tying a scarf or fabric materials around your nose and mouth can also cause allergic reactions owing to the fibres of the material)
- Rubber gloves (particularly when handling cleaning products that may irritate your skin)
- Goggles (if you are cleaning high surfaces where dust becomes airborne and may come in contact with your eyes, or when using chemical spray cleaners like glass cleaner)
- Full-length clothing to protect your skin from dust and cleaning products
Pick Up Dust Without Unsettling it
It’s often the case – household cleaning leads to unsettling a lot of dust and picking up only some of it. Not only does this cause dust particles to become airborne, but it also means that you aren’t removing it effectively which, in turn, causes frequent allergic reactions when inside your own house. Regardless of what you are cleaning, the method used must ensure that you are actually picking up dust and not unsettling any while you’re at it.
Here is a look at some common dust removal cleaning tasks along with the proper techniques and cleaning tools one should use for best results:
1. Vacuuming Floors
While sweeping is also effective in picking up dust and dirt from your home’s flooring, it can also unsettle some of the dust on the surface. Vacuuming, on the other hand, does a much better job of removing dust and debris, particularly when using appropriate brush attachments. If you don’t own a vacuum cleaner, you can still pick up dust effectively with an anti-static broom.
2. Dusting Furniture
One of the best ways to remove dust from your furniture without unsettling it is to use a damp cloth (preferably a microfibre cloth). Of course, there are more effective and innovative dusting tools that are available on the market, many of which remove 90% of the dust from household surfaces in one quick swipe.
3. Cleaning Carpets
In carpeted homes or specific rooms with carpets/rugs, regular cleaning is a must! You should vacuum your carpeted flooring at least 4 times a week as the dust trapped in carpet piles gets moved around rather easily with foot traffic. This transfers dust particles to various areas of your home including your bed and couch. Use a brush attachment suitable for the carpet pile you are vacuuming to pick up dust that has accumulated closer to the weave.
4. Cleaning Ceiling Fans
For someone that suffers from allergies, cleaning the ceiling fan is one of the most dreaded tasks. Since it is a ceiling attachment that accumulates dust ever so often, it can be tricky to clean the fan without knocking off dust. Nevertheless, there is a simple and practical way to avoid this and it only requires the use of an old pillowcase or a large cloth that can be wrapped around a fan blade. Dampen the material; pull it over the blade so that the top and bottom of the blade are covered; then use both hands to slide the dusting tool off, thus removing and containing the dust within the damp material!
Use Safe or Natural Cleaners
It is a known fact that most house cleaning products on the market contain harsh chemicals while some of them claim to be eco-friendly even though a closer look at the contents will reveal some harmful properties. Therefore, if you are looking to purchase green cleaning products, be sure to look at options from reputable brands only.
Alternatively, the safer thing to do is make your own line of natural or safe cleaners to eliminate allergy triggers altogether. Not only is it reassuring to know that your cleaning products are, in fact, naturally made, but they also serve their purpose of effectively cleaning household surfaces.
Here’s a look at some common ingredients used in safe and natural homemade cleaners:
- White vinegar
- Apple cider vinegar
- Baking soda
- Distilled water
- Castille soap
- Lemon juice
- Essential oil
- Rubbing alcohol (70% isopropyl)
- Hydrogen peroxide
- PH neutral cleaner (regular dish soap)
Tackle Mould Hotspots
The thing about mould is that you don’t have to see it in order for it to affect you. This is particularly true for allergy sufferers who are highly sensitive to mould spores. Speaking generally, mould in your home can be dangerous because it is a fungus that grows rather quickly if not tackled early on. Breathing in mould spores can cause a string of health issues including respiratory problems and severe allergic reactions.
To remove mild cases of mould in your home, you can take care of it by following strict safety precautions to ensure that it does not trigger your allergies. This means wearing the appropriate gear, opening up windows, and using diluted household ammonia to effectively remove mould in your home.
Here are some common places where mould can be found in your home:
- Laundry rooms
- Behind and underneath the washer and dryer
- Underneath sinks
- Shower curtains
- Toothbrush holders
- Rubber seals of appliances
- Drip pans
- Around water heaters
NOTE: Severe cases of mould buildup in the home are best tackled by a professional cleaning service.
Clean Air Vents and AC Vent
Perhaps, one of the most overlooked areas of a home and yet, a common trigger for allergies, vents are often caked with dust, causing all sorts of allergic reactions when pushed out into the air of your home. For asthmatics, this can be a very severe trigger and therefore, must be given due attention when cleaning.
Vacuum air vents on a regular basis to remove trapped dust; deep clean inside the vents every other month to get rid of allergens that may be hiding there. For (split or box) air conditioning units, wipe the vents at least twice a week or more often if the AC is used on a daily basis. It is also important to change the air filter regularly so that the unit does a better job of filtering the air in your home.
Change Bed Sheets and Pillowcases Weekly
Yes, your bed sheets and pillowcase can trigger allergies rather easily even if you feel like they are still clean after a week’s time. This is because dust, dead skin cells, and other fine particles can be inhaled while sleeping, causing you to wake up with a sneezing or coughing fit. Even worse, droppings left by dust mites can cause allergic reactions while their bites can keep you up itching all night!
The best way to clean bed linen is to wash the sheets and pillowcases in hot water to kill dust mites and bacteria, however, avoid harsh laundry detergents with strong fragrances. Another pro tip for getting rid of dust mites and killing bacteria is to air your mattress and pillows out in the sun for a couple of hours. Do this every six months and be sure to allow the sun to sterilise both sides of your mattress and pillows.
It should be mentioned that allergy sufferers are typically advised to hire a home cleaning service to deep clean their home as and when needed to ensure that there are no hidden allergens in the home. More importantly, if an individual suffers from severe allergies or asthma, house cleaning is best left to a professional or other household members.