Cleaning can be daunting for those with allergies and asthma, but it doesn’t have to be. Check out our tips below, compiled from allergy asthma experts, on how to avoid allergy symptoms while cleaning your home.
Allergist James Sublett, MD, from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) advises that thoroughly cleaning your home regularly can help eliminate indoor allergens and prevent new one from entering easily.
“Allergy season can last all year for those sensitive to indoor allergens, but it can worsen in the spring months when pollen becomes an issue. It's important to remove allergens from the home so you can lead a healthy and active lifestyle.”
The National Asthma Council of Australia recommends that bedding and soft toys be washed in hot water weekly to prevent dust mites, and for rugs, carpets, and floors to be cleaned weekly.
Visit the Sensitive Choice website on creating a healthy home to learn which triggers are found in different areas of your home and what you can do about them.
Keep doors and windows closed
Warmer temperatures and musty indoors might prompt you to open doors and windows to let some fresh air in, but that’s the one thing you should really not do!
This could lead to unwanted pollen particles entering the home and making you sneeze long after your spring cleaning is complete.
The ACAAI advises that air fresheners and candles are not good either, as they could contain chemicals that could spur more allergy asthma attacks.
Your best option is to opt for natural aromas from the oven (what a great excuse to bake some sweet goodies), try an organic air freshener, or use an air purifier to remove allergens and keep the indoors feeling fresh and clean.
Clean mould-prone areas
Any area that is tiled will be especially prone to mould, and this includes bathrooms, kitchens, laundry areas, and basements.
Get rid of mould with moisture control; Keep these areas well ventilated with fans or mop up standing water immediately.
Scrub any visible mould from surfaces using detergent and water, and let it air dry.
You can also help ward off mould by keeping home humidity levels below 60%. Get a humidistat to monitor this and if your home has an ongoing humidity issue, it’s best to invest in a dehumidifier.
The National Asthma Council of Australia recommends using both dehumidifiers and air purifiers to combat mould - dehumidifiers to remove moisture and HEPA air purifiers to reduce airborne mould.
To combat mould and mildew at home, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAI) recommends the following:
“If you have mold or mildew on basement walls, use one of the solutions listed below to clean, but you must also remove the moisture from the area. Use a dehumidifier or fans to circulate the air, and open windows if possible.”
Cleaning Option 1
Spray vinegar directly onto walls.
Don’t rinse, just air dry.
Cleaning Option 2
Mix 2 cups vinegar, 2 cups very hot water, 1/2 cup salt and 2 cups borax (bleach / Clorox)
Apply solution to area and allow it to sit for 30 minutes.
Apply the solution again, scrubbing with a soft bristled brush and rinse well with plain water.
Eliminate pet allergens to avoid allergy asthma attacks
It’s actually not advised for allergy and asthma sufferers to own pets, but if you love pets (like me), then you know there’s no saying ‘no’ to your furry best friend(s).
If yours are indoor pets, then chances are that their fur, saliva, and dander have made their way through all the nooks and crannies in your home.
Make vacuuming and washing upholstery, including your pet’s bed, a regular affair – at least weekly – to keep these allergens at a minimum in your home.
The Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) recommends that to minimise pet allergens, make the bedroom a ‘No Pets’ zone to ensure you can sleep symptom-free. If possible, restrict the pet to just one area of the home that is carpet-free, wash pets weekly, and to use high efficiency air cleaners.
Deep clean your whole house
Clean your house regularly to keep allergens at bay, but deep clean it at least a few times a year to really keep it clean and allergen-free.
This may take days, but if you’re already cleaning regularly, it shouldn’t be too much work.
Get a head start by changing your air filters every 3-6 months (depending on use). Make sure yours is a HEPA air purifier – for allergy sufferers, it’s better and will help remove the smallest of allergens from your home.
Vacuuming regularly is also very important to get rid of dust mites. The ACAAI recommends using a cyclonic vacuum, which spins dust and dirt away from the floor, or a vacuum with a HEPA filter.
Don’t forget the outdoors
If you have a garden, don’t neglect it! Get grass and bushes trimmed early in the season, or hire a local gardener to help.
If doing it yourself, avoid being outdoors when pollen counts are highest (mid-day and afternoon), wear gloves and a N95 particulate pollen mask, and take your medication before going outside.
Avoid touching your eyes, and be sure to wash your hands, hair and clothing once you go back indoors.
In general as well, be careful when you’re outdoors.
Associate Professor Sheryl van Nunen, an expert in allergies from the Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney, advises that to beat hay fever, allergy asthma sufferers should avoid being outdoors during the early morning or evenings when pollen is airborne due to a change in temperature. In addition, opt to dry sheets, pillow cases and clothing indoors during peak times.
The National Asthma Council of Australia recommends to avoid pollen - a trigger for hay fever - by avoiding going outdoors on days with high pollen counts, on windy days or after thunderstorms. Otherwise try and stay indoors until after midday as pollen is released in the morning.
If you have to go outside during a high pollen count, Allergy UK advises wearing a mask, wraparound sunglasses to avoid pollen irritating eyes and placing a small amount of allergen barrier balm or petroleum jelly around nostrils to trap pollen before it enters the nose.
With the tips above from allergy asthma experts, we hope you can combat the symptoms this allergy season and enjoy spring and summer with ease.
Explore more tips and advice from the asthma and allergy experts from the sites below:
- National Asthma Council of Australia
- Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA)
- American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAI)
- American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI)
- Allergy UK
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for general reference only. Please seek advice from professionals according to your needs.