Allergy or asthma symptoms got you down? You’re not alone.
Spring has sprung, and for the tens of millions of Americans who suffer from asthma or allergy symptoms, it is often a season where symptoms are at their worst.
In 2007, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study showed that 34 million Americans had been diagnosed with asthma.
Symptoms from allergies and asthma can range in severity from inconvenient to very dangerous and are usually triggered by exposure to allergens. Triggers such as air pollution or high pollen levels are well-known, but more surprising sources of allergens are hiding in your home.
Most of us don’t associate cleaning with improving our health, but removing indoor allergens and triggers from your home can reduce allergy and asthma symptoms. Cleaning for asthma and allergies costs little or nothing and is as easy as incorporating a few new habits into your routine.
As part of its social sustainability initiative, the American Cleaning Institute is getting the word out about cleaning for allergies and asthma.
“It is human nature to sometimes overlook the simplest solutions to one of life’s problems,” said Nancy Bock, ACI’s Senior Vice President of Education. “Sometimes, a simple change in a routine behavior can have a major impact on allergy and asthma sufferers.”
The most common indoor allergens or triggers are pet dander, mold and mildew, dust mites, cockroaches and pollen from outside that finds its way in. They can be well-hidden, even in homes that look spotless.
Here are a few ways that changing up your green routine can reduce your exposure to them at home and help you breathe a little easier:
1. Wash Cycle
Every home has dust mites, but they can be controlled and significantly reduced by washing your bedding and curtains more often. Apart from investing in dust mite-proof pillows and mattress covers, ACI recommends washing your sheets weekly, your pillows at least four times a year and your blankets, comforters and mattress pads month. As long as you’re updating your laundry routine, you can also save a little extra money and energy by incorporating concentrated cleaning products.
Also, making a habit of wiping down bathroom surfaces and wet-mopping floors helps eliminate mold and mildew. Try to do each once a week, and wash your shower curtain once a month.
Eliminating clutter in your home might come as a surprising fix for respiratory symptoms, but it can be effective. Apart from providing a place for dust and allergens to collect, clutter usually makes cleaning in general more difficult. To avoid waste when you’re taking on your clutter collection, be sure to utilize resources like the Earth911 directory for recyclables rather than tossing them out. For items like toys, books, stuffed animals and other nick-knacks that make the cut, store them in cabinets when possible, to keep them from gathering dust.
Also, simple steps like not letting dirty dishes sit in the sink and taking out the trash in a timely manner help avoid unwanted visitors like cockroaches.
3. Dry Clean
Dusting, vacuuming and sweeping are useful for removing pet dander, pollen and dust mites from your home. By doing these things more regularly, those allergens don’t have a chance to build up and trigger symptoms. Take the time to shake out the rugs in your living areas and keep window sills and door frames clean as well. Remember, extra cleaning doesn’t have to cost extra. Try putting a worn out T-shirt to use as a damp dusting cloth. These are simple steps, but they can make a big difference to you indoor environment.
When it comes to building a new cleaning routine, ACI encourages a family approach.
“Families need to know that it really is a family affair. Everyone needs to understand the importance of a clean environment and that they play a role in helping to reduce allergens in the home. The focus should not be on one room – but rather the entire house.”
By assigning duties to different family members, everyone is able to contribute to the cleaner environment. However, it’s important to remember to only assign appropriate tasks to the family member that suffers from symptoms. Responsibilities like washing dishes or picking up daily clutter have less exposure to triggers compared to dusting or vacuuming that can throw allergens into the air.
Cleaning solo? Try to ventilate your home as you clean to avoid allergens that get stirred up in the process. If your symptoms are severe, you can wear a medical mask to prevent exposure.
Visit ACI’s Clean Living site for more tips and tools to help reduce allergens and triggers in your home.
Editor’s Note: Earth911 partners with many industries, manufacturers and organizations to support its Recycling Directory, the largest in the nation, which is provided to consumers at no cost. The American Cleaning Institute is one of these partners.