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Allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And for the more than 50 million Americans who suffer from allergies each year, keeping a clean house this time of year is one way to combat allergy and asthma symptoms.
Here are some basic cleaning tips to help rid your home of spring allergens:
Dust mites are definitely unwanted bed partners and they thrive on humidity, according to Laura Dellutri, a home and lifestyle expert. So a snuggly, warm bed is just the place for the microscopic allergens, as well as mold, pollen and pet dander.
A good cleaning schedule includes washing all bedding in hot water (130 degrees Fahrenheit) and drying linens on high heat at least once a week. Dellutri said you could also use a laundry additive with your detergent to help eliminate dust mites.
She suggested encasing pillowcases and mattresses in dust mite-proof covers and duct taping the zippers to keep mites from slipping in.
Keep your bedroom a pet-free area, especially during high pollen season, according to Dr. Yoon Kim, an allergist and immunologist with Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania. Pets can leave behind pollen, mold or dander while sleeping on your mattress.
Carpets trap all sorts of particles – from dust to dander to dirt – so a deep cleaning is recommended, but if you are concerned about doing it properly, Kim recommends a professional carpet cleaning to avoid mold and dust buildup.
Experts encourage a vacuuming schedule of at least once a week and your vacuum cleaner should have a small particle filter or high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter.
HEPA filters, as defined by the United States Department of Energy, must collect 99.97 percent of fine particles when tested with an aerosol of 0.3 micrometer diameter. Dellutri suggests using HEPA air purifiers that can filter the entire living area of your home.
She also said severe allergy sufferers should have the duct work in their homes cleaned at least two times a year to kill mold and germs and to improve overall indoor air quality.
If you want to shine up your windows to let in the breeze, Kim said to clean one window at a time. Be sure to close it before opening another one, then run an air conditioner if you have it.
“Opening a window may bring in fresh spring air, but it also may bring in the pollen,” Kim said.
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Use a top-to-bottom cleaning strategy to eliminate as much house dust as possible, according to Dellutri. Clean ceiling fans and light fixtures first, focus on tables and countertops next, and don’t forget blinds, lampshades and knick-knacks.
This allows dust particles and dirt to fall to the ground where they are vacuumed up at the end. She also suggests cleaning walls with a wet cloth attached to a mop.
“Go over all your surfaces with a good quality microfiber or dusting cloth,” Dellutri said. “With a damp cloth, you don’t need a bunch of products, you can just pick up those layers of dust off the surface [with water].”
Of course, there are many ways allergens can make their way into your home and life, but Dellutri and Kim both agreed that you should take your shoes off before you get into your home. This will help keep dirt and crud away from your carpets and floors.
And they both said to wear a face mask while you do your deep cleaning to avoid inhaling pesky particles that could aggravate allergies or asthma.
“If you are allergic to dust or have asthma, you may want to wear a mask when you do this cleaning so it doesn’t exacerbate the symptoms,” Kim said.
For more safety and preparedness tips, visit AccuWeather.com/Ready.
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