Spring has arrived, and while the warm weather and longer days are a welcome sight, the sneezing, watery eyes, and itchy throat can be a huge annoyance for people who suffer from seasonal allergies. Depending on your sensitivity, you may find that even staying indoors isn’t enough to avoid the worst parts of hay fever, which can last from the beginning of spring until well into the summer months.
Keeping your home properly insulated and all doors and windows closed is a great way to keep allergens outside, but pollen, ragweed, and small dust particles can hitch a ride on your clothing. Over time, they can build up throughout your home, wreaking havoc on your sinuses, eyes, and throat. And in many cases, simple spot cleaning isn’t enough to completely get rid of them—especially if you don’t know all their hiding places.
To keep your home as allergen-free as possible, check out Blindster’s list of the top personal and household items to clean on a regular basis:
Clothes are the biggest source of indoor allergens in homes that are well-insulated and well-sealed. Every time you step outside, especially during peak allergy season, your clothes pick up small amounts of pollen, ragweed, and other particles. When you come back inside, those particles get dispersed throughout your home, including on your bed, couch, chairs, and just about everywhere else. If you or anyone in your family is highly sensitive to allergens, you can reduce symptoms and allergen buildup by immediately washing clothes that were worn outdoors.
In addition to your shirt and pants picking up allergens, you should also be aware that your shoes can pick up plenty of irritants as well. A huge amount of pollen ends up directly on the ground, and it can easily stick to the tops, sides, and bottoms of your shoes. As with your clothing, that pollen will hitch a ride into your home where it can end up in every room. You can cut down on the allergens that your shoes bring inside by taking them off before you enter your home. If leaving them outside isn’t an option, use a wet rag or paper towel and wipe across the entire surface of your shoes to remove built-up allergens.
Even if you regularly wash your clothing and wipe down your shoes, you still may track small amounts of allergens into your home. And for many allergy sufferers, that’s enough to trigger their symptoms. Because we spend a third of our lives in bed, it makes sense that this is the place where allergens are most likely to accumulate in your home. In addition to outdoor allergens, beds are also major sources of dust mites, which can cause a whole host of issues for people who are allergic or sensitive to them. Wash your sheets, blankets, and pillow cases frequently, and avoid getting bed while wearing any clothing that was worn outside to keep these irritants at bay.
Your window treatments
In addition to being a prime spot for the collection of allergens that are airborne inside your home, window treatments also act as pollen and ragweed traps for even brief moments when you open your windows. Curtains, blinds, shades, and shutters can help block allergens from entering your home in the first place—especially when compared to windows with no coverings—but like everything else in your home, they’ll eventually accumulate a fine layer of dirt, dust, and pollen. For light cleaning, you can’t beat a feather duster to remove built-up debris. Mild cleaning solutions are effective for tougher cleaning jobs, but just make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using liquids on your curtains, blinds, or shades.
Carpet is warm, soft, and inviting, but it can also act as a trap for just about every piece of pollen and ragweed that enters your house. Experts say that carpet simply isn’t the best option for people who are highly sensitive to allergens. If your home has carpet, it’s important to invest in a high-quality vacuum and to use it as frequently as possible to keep allergens at bay. To make matters worse, new carpets are also susceptible to off-gassing, which is the release of volatile organic compounds. These chemicals can also trigger allergies. If you or anyone in your family suffers from severe allergies, it may be worthwhile to change flooring to hardwood, tile, or laminate, which are easier to clean and less likely to hold allergens indoors.
Your vacuum cleaner
The very thing that’s designed to rid your home of allergens can also be one of the biggest culprits for triggering your allergies. While vacuums are great for quickly and easily cleaning up large messes and built-up dirt and dust, they aren’t exactly the cleanest items themselves. Irritants build up in every nook and cranny of these devices, from the brush roll to the hoses to the attachments. Empty your vacuum’s bag or canister on a frequent basis and trim away any human or animal hair that ends up around the brush roll. A clean vacuum won’t just be less likely to trigger your allergies, but it will also be more effective at cleaning your home.
When you go outside and accumulate all those irritating allergens on your clothing, chances are, your next destination is the inside of your vehicle. So, before all that dust, pollen, dirt, and ragweed has had a chance to infiltrate your home, it may have spread throughout your vehicle—especially on its seats and upholstery. If you find yourself having allergy attacks when you get in your car, you’re not alone. Vehicles are major sources of allergens, and they’re also less frequently cleaned than the interior of homes. Bring your vacuum outdoors or use a commercial vacuum at a car wash on a frequent basis to keep the interior of your vehicle free from irritants.
Your indoor fans
Oscillating, box, and ceiling fans can be very effective at keeping your home feeling cool and pleasant during the spring and summer, but they may be contributing to your allergy symptoms. Taking a close look at your fans can be a shocking experience. Oscillating and box fans are often full of dust, with it coating everything from the cage and blades to the motor and base. Ceiling fans typically don’t fare much better, with irritants accumulating on the top and bottom of each blades and inside the light fixtures. A feather duster can help cut down on the debris that builds up on these devices, but heavy accumulations may require removing the cages and wiping down each blade individually.