Now that winter weather is hitting New York City, people are avoiding the harsh temperatures by spending more time indoors. For most the indoors will be a pleasant relief from frost and chilly winds, but for people with allergies, more time indoors can mean increased exposure to indoor allergens like mold, dust mites, and pet dander.
One of the first lines of defense to avoid the wheezing, watery eyes, sneezing, and congestion that can be caused by irritating indoor allergens is to put a weekly house cleaning routine into place. Regularly cleaning your home can help reduce allergens and minimize your allergy symptoms.
Here are Hudson Allergy’s house cleaning tips for people with allergies:
Know what you are allergic to. The best way to eliminate allergens from the home is with a targeted approach, and you can’t do that until you know exactly what you are allergic to. Get tested for allergies to identify your specific allergens and create a house cleaning routine with those allergens in mind.
Clean the air. Get an air purifier with a HEPA filter to pull allergens from the air. You should also install HEPA filters on the vents in your home.
Avoid irritating cleaning products when possible. Many cleaning products contain fragrances or other additives that can worsen your allergy symptoms. Use fragrance-free detergents and cleaners instead. You can also buy more natural cleaners that don’t use harsh or irritating ingredients.
Use a damp cloth when cleaning. The damp cloth will trap allergens instead of sending them up into the air.
Wear a mask when you clean. Wearing a face mask will help limit your exposure to any allergens that get kicked up into the air while you’re cleaning. We recommended a face mask with HEPA filtration to block mold spores and dust.
Vacuum once a week. Make sure to vacuum carpets, rugs and any upholstery that collects allergens. Your vacuum should have a HEPA filter to ensure that you’re eliminating the most allergens possible – some allergens are so small they will go right through a regular filter.
Get rid of mold. Mold grows in damp environments, so check areas like your bathroom and basement for any mold growth. You should also check for any leaky pipes that could be sources of standing water. You can remove mold in your bathroom by regularly cleaning the tiles and shower curtain.
De-clutter. If you’ve been meaning to clean off your desk or get rid of some of the clutter around your home, now is a great time. Piles of clutter can trap allergens like dust, which can irritate your allergy symptoms.
Wash bedding and linens in hot water. Trust us – your bedding is great at collecting allergens. Throw your bedding and other linens in the washer on a weekly basis, and make sure the water is hot. Water should be at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit to kill dust mites. (If you’re child has allergies, give their machine washable stuffed animals a “bath” as well.)
Most people take part in some sort of “spring cleaning,” but it’s important to remember that if you really want to remove allergens from your home, you’ll need to clean on a regular basis using a targeted approach.
If your allergies are severe and cleaning irritates your symptoms too much, you can ask a family member to help or you can consider hiring a maid service to clean your house once a week. Some cleaning services even specialize in removing allergens from the home.
If you have questions about resources available to people with allergies, give us a call. Or, if you are looking for an allergist, we’d love to meet you. We can be reached at 212-729-1283 or send us an email at email@example.com.