The sun is out, the weather is warming up, and it's time to throw open our windows to spring. (Figuratively speaking, of course there's pollen out there!) It's also time for spring cleaning. Whether you dread this process or find it strangely satisfying, it's got to be done, especially if you're an allergy sufferer. The air in your home is about 10 times dirtier than the air outside, and allergens have been accumulating during the months of winter. Pollen season has already reared its ugly head, but you can strengthen your defenses by getting rid of other indoor allergens and the best way to do this is a deep, thorough spring cleaning.
What kind of indoor allergens are lurking inside your home? Well, there's definitely dust, dust mites, animal dander, mold, and mildew, for starters along with your ordinary household dirt and grime. But don't worry; we're going to give you some pointers on how to transform your home into a clean and healthy place to live.
Before you break out the cleaning products, there are a few other tasks you may want to accomplish first. Many people organize closets, drawers, and shelves as part of their spring cleaning, and they often go through old belongings to see what can be thrown away or donated to charity. This is an important first step for allergy sufferers, too. Getting rid of excess knickknacks, decorations, and collectibles will cut down on dust throughout the house, making your cleaning job easier. Items that fit tidily into closets and drawers can be hidden neatly away where no dust can gather on them. A clutter-free environment is easier to clean and easier to keep clean.
Here's a checklist to help make sure that this year's spring cleaning leaves your home sparkling, spotless, and allergy-free:
- Destroy mold and mildew indoors by cleaning under the refrigerator, washing and disinfecting garbage cans, thoroughly scrubbing bathrooms, and cleaning or changing shower curtains. If you have a basement, you should examine and clean it thoroughly. Mold and mildew flourish in damp environments. You can help prevent the growth of mold and mildew with humidity control products.
- Don't ignore the mold and mildew outdoors. Mold spores are airborne particles that can easily float indoors. Clean the yard frequently and remove any wet piles of leaves, grass, or mulch.
- Clean your bedroom! Wash all your bedding, using hot water. Special laundry additives and detergents help kill dust mites and eliminate other allergens. If you haven't already encased your bed in allergy relief bedding, take this opportunity to do so (while your bedroom is nice and clean).
- Dust mites live in carpets and upholstery, too. Treat carpets and upholstery with a powder that neutralizes or kills dust mites. We recommend using only dry cleaning methods on carpets. Wet extraction methods leave carpets damp, creating the ideal environment for mold and mildew spores, which you've been working so hard to eradicate.
- Clean mini-blinds thoroughly. Better yet, get rid of them and replace them with vertical blinds or washable window dressings. Window blinds are dust traps.
- If you have them, wash your drapes.
- Vacuum as if your life depends on it! Move aside furniture to reach every nook and cranny. Those rarely vacuumed spots may not look dirty, but invisible allergens have a way of collecting in these undisturbed corners. If you don't already have one, get a HEPA filter vacuum cleaner; otherwise, you're just spewing allergens back into the air every time you vacuum.
- Dust everything. We recommend using an electrostatically charged cloth, which traps dust, or a vacuum attachment designed specifically for dusting. Normal dusting cloths spread too much dust around in the air without actually getting rid of it. Don't forget to dust above your head as well light fixtures, ceiling fan blades, and the tops of cabinets and armoires.
- It's a good idea to keep your house well-ventilated while cleaning. If the pollen outside is stopping you from opening windows, consider running the air conditioning and indoor air purifiers to keep the air well-ventilated and clean.
- Don't forget to change the filters on your air conditioners, air purifiers, dehumidifiers, windows, and vent registers. Since you just clean your house, you want all the incoming air to be clean, fresh, and breathable.
Finally, there's one more aspect of cleaning to consider this spring: not simply what you clean, but how you clean. Standard cleaning supplies often contain harsh fragrances and chemicals that irritate allergies. We recommend cleaning with all-natural, hypoallergenic, fragrance-free cleaning products. You may also want to consider wearing an allergy relief mask while cleaning indoors and outdoors to protect yourself from fumes, dust, and allergens.
Even hypoallergenic cleaning products can irritate some allergy sufferers. If this is the case for you, there are three wholly natural cleaning products that you can find in your kitchen: vinegar, lemon juice, and baking soda. Vinegar, when mixed equally with water, makes a great all-purpose cleaning solution and disinfectant. Use it on kitchen and bathroom surfaces as you would a general spray cleaner, but do not use it on marble. If you're unsure of whether or not you can use it on a certain surface, then first test it in an inconspicuous area. Lemon juice can be used as a polish on copper and brass; it is also useful for dissolving hard water stains and soap build-ups. Baking soda works well as an abrasive cleaner on surfaces such as sinks, tubs, ceramics, aluminum, chrome, and stainless steel. Baking soda is also an excellent deodorizer.
Learn more about healthy and natural cleaning products and supplies in the featured products section of this newsletter or on our allergy relief cleaning supplies web site.