Now that the weather is warming up, many people take to cleaning and clearing away the dust and clutter accumulated over the winter months. While no one will argue that spring cleaning lacks benefits, if you suffer from allergies or asthma, spring cleaning may actually trigger a worsening of symptoms. Here are some tips to follow to help minimize triggering allergy symptoms and asthma complications while spring cleaning:
- Don’t use feather dusters or dry rags. Wiping away dust actually sends dust particles into the air. For those with allergies to dust mites and those with asthma, this can trigger negative reactions. Instead of using traditional feather dusters, use a damp cloth or vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to remove dust accumulation.
- Don’t use chemical cleaners. The strong odors from chemical cleaners, such as bleach, can aggravate the airways of asthma sufferers. Consider more natural cleaning options, such as vinegar and baking soda. Even olive oil can be used as a furniture polish on many types of wood.
- Keep windows closed. As tempting as it may be to open windows to air out your home, if you have seasonal allergies, opening your windows allows pollen to enter your home and be cycled through your air system. Instead, clean or replace air filters, and turn on the air conditioner. Your air conditioner will pull fresh air in, but trap pollens and other allergens in the filter.
- Don’t forget your carpets. Carpet fibers trap dust and allergens, especially as you walk through accumulated pollen outdoors before coming inside your home. Vacuum your carpets often, and consider having your carpets professionally steam cleaned as part of your spring cleaning routine.
When done properly, spring cleaning is an excellent way to reduce allergens in the home. If you experience a flair up of allergy or asthma symptoms, stop cleaning immediately.
Ramie Tritt, M.D., President, Atlanta ENT