Housecleaning Tips to Reduce Indoor Allergens and Ease Allergies
If you have allergies or asthma, there are some things you can do to reduce allergens in your home. Use easily washable curtains on windows, keep windows closed during pollen season, remove clutter and items that collect dust like ornaments, books and magazines, and empty kitchen trash daily. If possible, replace carpeting with wood and tile floors. Dust contains most of the allergens in your home, so you should dust weekly. Clean bathtubs and showers every month to prevent mold build-up. And replace pillows regularly because dust mites can build up inside. These are some other things you can do to help reduce allergens in your house.
What Are Allergies?
Clothing and bedding can contain allergy causing live dust mites. Mites can be transferred during the wash cycle to formerly mite-free items. According to one study 84% of mites were removed from clothing when washed with just detergent. Washing with detergent and bleach removes 98%. So, you should always wash clothing and bedding with both detergent and bleach. Use color-safe bleach for colors.
You can also get a special detergent designed to kill dust mites. Allergen Wash Laundry Detergent claims to remove:
"dust mite allergens, pet dander, pollen, and mold from all fabrics without having to use water temperatures of 140 degrees or higher."
Allergy-proof bedding includes both mattress and pillow covers. Experts warn that these covers alone won't reduce allergy or asthma symptoms. The covers reduce exposure to dust mites but it's still important to wash bedding weekly, reduce clutter in the bedroom, and change air conditioner filters regularly to prevent dust build up. While allergy proof bedding isn't 100% effective, allergy specialist do recommend using them. Protecting your bed will usually cost between $40 and $80.
Avoid Air Fresheners
Air fresheners and scented candles can trigger allergy symptoms or worsen existing allergies. They can also trigger more severe asthma attacks. This is according to a study by the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI)
"This is a much bigger problem than people realize. About 20 percent of the population and 34 percent of people with asthma report health problems from air fresheners. We know air freshener fragrances can trigger allergy symptoms, aggravate existing allergies and worsen asthma."
The Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) also says air fresheners can reduce lung function.
Febreze Allergen Reducers
Febreze has a line of allergen reducers that they claim "reduces up to 75% of inanimate allergens that become airborne from soft surfaces, such as pet dander and dust mite matter." These include air fresheners and fabric sprays for carpets, curtains, sofas and pet bedding.
HEPA Air Purifiers
Air purifiers remove dust, pollen, mold spores and other particles from indoor air. They can also reduce odors. There is still debate about whether they reduce allergy and asthma symptoms. Allergies caused by particles like dust mites that don't remain airborne can't be relieved by air purifiers. However, the Mayo Clinic recommends using one and suggests the following:
"Try adjusting your air filter so that it directs clean air toward your head when you sleep."
Memory Foam or Latex Mattress
Dust mites, dust mite feces, dead skin cells, and oil can build up inside coil and spring mattresses. This is why spring mattresses are thought to get heavier over time. According to one study, a used mattress may have 100,000 to 10 million mites inside. Mites can also build up in pillows. Memory foam mattresses may be better for allergy sufferers because while dust mites can live on the surface they can't burrow inside. However, Dr. Morris Nejat of New York Allergy & Sinus Centers says:
"Encasing your mattress in a dust mite cover and washing your sheets once a week is enough to lower your exposure to dust mites."
Memory foam mattresses are made using chemicals, so it's unknown if they can have negative health effects. However, most mattresses are made using synthetic material, so that problem is not limited to memory foam.
Latex mattresses are another option. It's difficult for allergens like dust mites and pet dander to stay on these mattresses.