Cleaning Tips to Control Allergies
Sneezing, sniffling, watery and itchy eyes… these are symptoms that sound like you have a cold, but they can also be due to allergens in the air. They can be found inside your home or outside.
Seasonal allergies are very common, affecting millions of people in the U.S.
In this article, we’ll go over what allergens are, how they impact your health, and ways to minimize allergens in your environment.
What are common allergy symptoms?
Allergy symptoms are similar to cold symptoms, and can sometimes be confused for the common cold. Here are some common symptoms:
Stuffy or runny nose
Watery and itchy eyes
Allergic reactions may lead to more serious conditions involving breathing (asthma), eyes (conjunctivitis), and skin (eczema, dermatitis).
What causes allergy symptoms?
Allergens are tiny particles that are found all around us - typically invisible to the naked eye. They can trigger allergic reactions if your body perceives them as an intruder and reacts against them. One of the most common forms is called allergic rhinitis, also known as “hay fever.”
Environmental allergens include dust, mold, pollen, and pet dander, among others. Some are seasonal, while others are year-round. Some are found inside the home, while others are outside.
Allergens found inside tend to be year-round allergens. These are common indoor allergens that may be lurking inside your home.
Dust is everywhere and on everything - sometimes you can see it, sometimes you can’t. It’s a mixture of various tiny particles from natural substances that can cause allergic reactions. Some examples include dried food particles, fabric fibers, insect parts, animal dander, and mold spores.
Solution: Dust frequently if you’re prone to allergic reactions at home. Using a dry duster can make things worse by causing dust to fly around so we recommend using a wet wipe when dusting furniture. Nice ’N CLEAN® Disinfecting Wipes are great for cleaning off dust from nonporous hard surfaces.
These microscopic pests live in mattresses and bedding, carpet, curtains, and upholstered furniture like couches. They love warm, humid environments and survive off of human secretions and shedded skin cells. Many people have allergic reactions to their droppings, which can become airborne. Typical cleaning methods such as vacuuming and dusting don’t get rid of them completely.
Solution: Wash your sheets frequently in hot water. Vacuum and steam clean your mattress regularly.
This fungus triggers allergy symptoms when mold spores get into the air. Mold thrives in dark, damp areas, such as bathrooms, basements, and attics. Indoor plants, such as those in damp wicker baskets, may also contribute to mold growth. Mold spores usually increase at night, especially during the rainy season when it’s more damp and humid.
Solution: For small and mild cases of mold, you can use household cleaning products containing bleach, hydrogen peroxide, or distilled white vinegar to clean and prevent mold growth. For extensive mold growth, it is recommended that you seek a mold professional who can remove it safely and completely.
If you find yourself sneezing and wheezing around cats and dogs, it’s likely you’re allergic to a protein found in their dander, urine, or saliva, not their fur. Dander refers to the skin shedding of animals. Cat allergies are more common -- about twice as common as dog allergies.
Solution: The best solution is to avoid the animal. If you visit a place with a dog or cat, take a shower and throw your clothes into the washing machine as soon as you get home so the allergens don’t spread in your house. If you own a pet, brush the pet’s fur daily outside of the home and clean the litter box or cage. Give your pet weekly baths to minimize dander. Other solutions include taking allergy medication (OTC or prescription) or getting allergy shots which can help control and minimize the symptoms.
This seasonal offender is produced by trees, grasses, and weeds and causes millions of people to feel miserable in the spring.
Solution: Staying indoors helps but most people control their seasonal allergies by taking an Over-The-Counter allergy medication such as Claritin or Allegra.
Mold spores are also an outdoor allergen. They’re typically found in soil, plants, and rotting wood. Mold spores float in the air similar to pollen. Also like pollen, they increase in the spring when temperatures start to rise. If you live in the South or on the West Coast of the United States, mold can be a problem year-round.
Solution: Similar to pollen, avoiding and minimizing exposure is the best way to control allergy symptoms due to mold. You can also take OTC medication. Read some more tips below.
Cleaning tips to minimize allergens at home
Wash your sheets frequently in hot water. Dry them on the highest temperature setting.
Vacuum and steam clean your mattress every 6-8 weeks to get rid of dust mites
Vacuum more than just your carpet; also vacuum your couch, sofa cushions, throw pillows, curtains, and any other upholstered surface in your home. Anything that can absorb a spill can also absorb hair and dust.
Shampoo your carpet annually. Rent a steam cleaner or hire a professional crew. A vacuum can only do so much to remove dirt and dust.
Use surface wipes to remove dust and other allergens throughout your house. Depending on the surface, this can be done daily to weekly. Most of us wipe down countertops daily, but there are many other surfaces that collect dust. Use surface wipes to get rid of dust on top of your refrigerator and on cabinets, washer and dryer, and bookshelves.
Use HEPA air purifiers throughout your home. They can help reduce the amount of dust particles in the air.
If you have dogs or cats, brush their fur daily and bathe them at least once a week to reduce dander. It’s also important to vacuum your carpet and furniture, and clean the litter box and cage frequently.
Tips for managing allergy symptoms
Keep your windows closed and keep air conditioning on to clean, cool down, and dry out the air in your home. Warm and humid environments help mold and dust mites thrive.
Stay indoors when pollen and mold counts are high outside. If you go outside, shower, wash your hair, and change your clothes when you return so you don’t spread allergens in your home.
Don’t hang any clothes, sheets, or towels outside to dry. They’ll collect allergens and bring them into your home.
Keep your windows closed when traveling by car.
Try OTC allergy medications to control your symptoms or see an allergist to determine whether you need a prescription.
While living with allergies is certainly unpleasant -- sometimes even miserable -- there are things you can do and medication you can take to help prevent or reduce your symptoms. Having wet wipes on hand can help reduce the amount of allergens inside your home. Nice ’N CLEAN® Disinfecting Wipes are perfect for removing dust and dirt on hard surfaces, antibacterial hand wipes are great for your hands, and even baby wipes can come in handy for dust removal.