How to clean if you have indoor allergies (2022)

Cleaning the house is one of those must-dos of adulthood that ranks somewhere near filing taxes on the fun scale. (Unless you’re an accountant or a cleaning devotee, in which case, spill your secrets.)

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And it’s even more essential if you have allergies, because it’s an integral part of “environmental control,” says John James, a Colorado-based allergist and immunologist and a spokesman for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. “This is something that’s very important in allergy treatment,” he says. It’s “the first step, then medical treatments, like doing antihistamines and nasal sprays and such. And then the third step is doing allergy shots or immunotherapy.”

Some of the most common allergens you’ll find in your home include pet dander, dust mites and mold spores. Typical reactions are similar to the symptoms of hay fever, James says. (Think nasal drainage, sinus pressure, headaches, itchy eyes and fatigue.) In some cases, allergens can also cause allergic asthma, with chest tightness, wheezing and shortness of breath.

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Although it’s impossible to eradicate all allergens in your home, cleaning will help mitigate and reduce your exposure. And if you have allergies, you might want to consider wearing an N95 mask while cleaning and leaving your home for about an hour after you finish, because you’ll have stirred up some of the allergens.

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Dust mites

It’s not the dust you’re allergic to; it’s the mites that live within said dust. Ninety percent of your home’s dust consists of dead skin cells, which dust mites eat, says Janna Tuck, a Santa Fe, N.M., allergist and a spokesperson for the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

To minimize exposure, use dust-mite covers for your pillows, mattress, box spring and duvets. Mites can settle into the cloth and filling of your bed, and the covers create a barrier between you and the allergens. Tuck recommends washing and changing your sheets at least once a week. You don’t need to wash them in hot water, but dry them on high heat to kill the mites.

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Replace your pillows annually, she says, because they collect dead skin cells over time: “If you have a 20-year-old feather pillow, it’s disgusting how much of that weight of the pillow is not feathers anymore,” Tuck says.

You don’t need to use a pesticide, such as an acaricide spray, to get rid of mites, James says; wiping surfaces with a damp cloth once or twice a week should suffice. That includes surfaces in rooms you don’t typically frequent, such as a basement, storage closet or formal living room. And wipe down your headboard. (If you have an upholstered headboard, use a handheld vacuum.) It’s also helpful to reduce clutter, because piles of clothes or toys can gather dust.

Use a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter to clean floors, carpets, rugs and any other upholstered items, such as furniture or drapery, at least once a week, Tuck says. Allergens are “protein particles, and they’re very small,” she says. “So unless you’re using a very good filtering system on your vacuum, you’re just moving those particles around.” Empty the vacuum canister each time you use it; otherwise, you’ll just put dirt back into the house.

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Tuck also recommends selecting air filters with a minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) rating of nine or higher and changing them every few months, as well as using a dehumidifier, because dust mites thrive in high humidity.

People who say they’re allergic to dogs and cats are often allergic to the protein found in the animal’s dander, which collects in its fur or hair. (You can also be allergic to the proteins in pet saliva, urine and feces.)

Not having pets is the easiest way to combat a pet dander allergy, James says. But let’s be real: We love our pets. Instead, try keeping the animal out of your bedroom, he says, and limiting your pet’s access to just a few rooms, so you can contain the dander.

Many of the dust-removal techniques also work for pet dander: Wash and change your sheets and vacuum weekly, wipe surfaces once or twice a week, and reduce clutter. Wash your pet’s bed at least once a month, and dry it on high heat. (You can wash it more often if you have a bed that’s easy to launder. James recommends getting one with a removable cover.) Bathing your pet frequently could also help, James says — but consult with your veterinarian to ensure that doing so won’t irritate the animal’s skin.

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The proteins in pet allergens are lighter than those associated with dust or mold, Tuck says, so they’re more likely to be airborne. “That’s why, if you have a dog and somebody’s allergic and they walk into your house, within a few minutes they’re like, ‘Do you have a dog?’ and they’re starting to have symptoms,” she says. Pet dander particles are small, so using an air purifier in a contained space could also help reduce symptoms, Tuck says.

Mold

The good news: “There’s exceptionally more mold outside your house than is inside your house,” Tuck says. “Your house is your haven if you’re mold allergic.”

But if you have an allergic response to mold spores, you’ll want to be more cautious. Fortunately, preventing mold doesn’t require too much work. “I don’t recommend patients doing anything special for mold other than just keeping [things] dry, and don’t have high humidity, high moisture or water damage,” says Steven Cole, an allergist in Dallas.

Pay attention to basements, showers and tubs, kitchens, windowsills, laundry rooms, garages with refrigerators or freezers, and the space under the sink. Regularly check these areas for standing water, damp sections or leaking faucets and pipes. (And if you keep veggies in your fridge, clean the drawers often, Tuck says.) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends keeping your home’s humidity level between 30 and 50 percent. (A dehumidifier can help.)

Also check inside your washing machine. If it smells odd, that means it’s time to clean it, Tuck says. You can use a special cleaner, or you can put bleach in the dispenser and run an empty cycle with hot water. And pay attention to your houseplants. If you overwater them, mold may start to grow on the soil’s top layer. In this case, take the plant outside and repot it.

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Clean bathrooms weekly, and, if you have a fan, always run it after showering. Use a solution of bleach (10 percent) and water (90 percent) to remove mold from a bathtub, Tuck says. Those with allergies should take special care when using bleach, however, because it can cause a cough and congestion, as well as asthmatic reactions. “Test it out in a larger, ventilated area,” Tuck says, and make sure it both cleans well and doesn’t cause you symptoms.

Finally, although it’s fine to scrub away a tiny patch of mold, more extensive or structural damage — for instance, mold spread throughout a bathroom wall — requires professional help, because large quantities of mold can affect even those who don’t have allergies.

Mimi Montgomery is a writer and editor in D.C.

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(Video) Allergies - Your Home & Indoor Allergens

FAQs

How do I clean my house with severe allergies? ›

Use a vacuum cleaner with a small-particle or a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. Use a damp cloth to clean other surfaces, including the tops of doors, windowsills and window frames. If you have allergies, either wear a dust mask or get someone who doesn't have allergies to do this job.

How do you clear a room of allergens? ›

Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to clean the room weekly. Consider installing an air purifier to help remove airborne allergens, especially if the household has pets, mold issues or smokers. Wash stuffed animals weekly in warm water, and if possible, remove any fabric toys that cannot be easily washed.

How often should you clean your house if you have allergies? ›

Clean Weekly

Turns out cleaning most areas of your home once a week — even if it's just one day out of that week — is sensible. It will rid your home of many allergy triggers and help relieve symptoms.

Does spraying Lysol help with allergies? ›

Spray away: Use Lysol® Disinfectant Spray on surfaces around your house to get rid of dust mite debris and other allergens.

How do I remove allergens from my couch? ›

So don't just cool the air in your room, filter it! Simply cut to fit. Allergens on soft surfaces like drapes, sofa pillows and carpets can be sprayed weekly with Febreze allergen reducer to help reduce airborne allergens by up to 75 percent. Dust mites and other airborne allergens.

Is there a spray that kills allergens? ›

Allersearch ADMS Anti-Allergen Spray is an “inorganic anti-allergen spray that uses an oxidizing compound that destroys allergens from dust mites, pet dander, pollens, mold, and mildew on contact.” The clear, non-toxic spray obliterates allergens on carpets, curtains, and furniture without staining.

How do you control indoor dust and dander levels? ›

For most families, the best way to control indoor dust and dander is to clean regularly—focusing most on the areas that see the most amount of dust. These surfaces are often fabric. Some of the most common items that harbor dust and dander are: Soft furniture like couches and stuffed chairs.

How do I rid my house of dust mites? ›

12 Ways to Get Rid of Dust Mites in Your Home
  1. Clean Bedding Frequently.
  2. Choose Bedding That's Easy to Clean.
  3. Add Protective Coverings to Mattresses.
  4. Remove Wall-to-Wall Carpeting.
  5. Vacuum Frequently.
  6. Lower Room Temperatures.
  7. Reduce Humidity in the Home.
  8. Remove Heavy Window Coverings.

Does an air purifier help with allergies? ›

Air purifiers help filter out the majority of allergy-aggravating particles from the air, as well as tiny pollutants that have settled into your furniture, walls, and floors after a long year in quarantine.

Does vacuuming make allergies worse? ›

Oddly enough, allergy symptoms often worsen during or immediately after vacuuming, sweeping and dusting. The process of cleaning can stir up dust particles, making them easier to inhale. People with dust mite allergies often suffer the most inside their homes or in other people's homes.

What causes indoor allergies? ›

If you're stuffed up, sneeze, or get itchy eyes all from the comfort of your home, you may have an indoor allergy. It's triggered by things like pet dander, dust mites, mold spores, and cockroaches.

What gets rid of allergies fast? ›

Try an over-the-counter remedy
  1. Oral antihistamines. Antihistamines can help relieve sneezing, itching, a stuffy or runny nose, and watery eyes. ...
  2. Corticosteroid nasal sprays. These medications improve nasal symptoms. ...
  3. Cromolyn sodium nasal spray. ...
  4. Oral decongestants.

Does Febreze help with allergies? ›

Reduces up to 95% of inanimate allergens that can become airborne from fabrics (Regular use of Febreze Allergen Reducer may reduce up to 95% of inanimate allergens from pollen [from birch tree, timothy grass, and ragweed] and dust mite matter that can become airborne from fabrics).

What can I spray on my carpet for allergies? ›

Allersearch® ADMS™ is an inorganic anti-allergy carpet spray that uses an oxidizing compound to destroy allergens build up in carpets and soft furnishings from dust mites, pet dander, pollens, other allergens from non-living sources.

How do you make anti allergen spray? ›

Essential Oil Recipes for Allergy Relief
  1. Pour 1-2 tsp. of tea tree essential oil into a spray bottle. (I tend to use a stronger solution.)
  2. Add 2 cups of water to spray bottle and shake.
  3. Spray any source of allergies: mold, mattresses, furniture, vents, appliances, carpets, bedding, curtains, etc.
17 Jan 2019

How do u know if u have dust mites? ›

Dust mite allergy symptoms caused by inflammation of nasal passages include:
  1. Sneezing.
  2. Runny nose.
  3. Itchy, red or watery eyes.
  4. Nasal congestion.
  5. Itchy nose, roof of mouth or throat.
  6. Postnasal drip.
  7. Cough.
  8. Facial pressure and pain.
31 Jul 2021

What kills dust mites on couches? ›

Steaming at temperatures above 130 degrees F will kill the majority of dust mites in your mattress. You can also steam your sofa, carpets, and upholstery. Since steaming alone won't get rid of them completely, follow up with an allergen spray.

What kills dust mites vinegar? ›

Does Vinegar Kill Dust Mites? No, vinegar won't kill dust mites. It will, however, deter them from returning to the area where vinegar has been applied. Try filling a spray bottle with vinegar and spraying different areas where you suspect mites.

Does Febreze get rid of dust mites? ›

Studies have shown that Febreze Allergen Reducer cuts down on as much as 75% of allergens from dust mites and cats and dogs that can become airborne. Once or twice a week, simply spray the product evenly over fabrics such as furniture, pet bedding, and drapes until damp.

Does Febreze eliminate dust? ›

Febreze Air Purifiers remove airborne pollutants from the air that passes through the filters. They help capture particles such as dust, smoke, pollen, pet dander AND help eliminate common household odors.

Do allergy room sprays work? ›

An allergen spray, or anti-allergen spray, can effectively destroy allergens in the air, such as dust mites, pet dander, pollen, mold, and mildew. All you need to do is spray it into the air, or on your carpeting, upholstery, or laundry to reduce allergens and improve the indoor air quality.

What am I allergic to in my bedroom? ›

The bedroom is home to a slew of allergens including dust mites, pet dander, chemicals, dust, and molds. Here you may spend 6-8 hours a day sleeping, getting ready for the day, or simply relaxing—which means you have a longer exposure to microscopic critters and particles that cause allergies and allergy-like symptoms.

How long does it take for dust to settle after vacuuming? ›

While vacuuming is great for keeping out any pollen you may have dragged into the house, the act of vacuuming itself can cause your allergies to spike. When you vacuum, dust and mold that has settled in your carpet will be uprooted and blown around your house — and can take more than two hours to settle back down.

Does vacuuming get rid of dust mites? ›

Vacuuming carpeting and upholstered furniture removes surface dust — but vacuuming isn't effective at removing most dust mites and dust mite allergens. Use a vacuum cleaner with a double-layered microfilter bag or a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter to help decrease house-dust emissions from the cleaner.

What smell do dust mites hate? ›

Dust mites are repulsed by the smell of Clove, Eucalyptus, Lavendar, Peppermint, and Rosemary. Make your own aromatic spray by adding a few drops of one (or more) of those essential oils in a water-filled spray bottle.

Do air purifiers get rid of dust mites? ›

Fortunately, an air purifier is great for dust removal, including dust mite allergens, and can help you breathe easier. An air purifier also prevents sickness by killing harmful airborne germs.

What air purifier should I buy for allergies? ›

  • Levoit 400S air purifier. The most powerful air purifier for allergies. ...
  • GermGuardian AC4825E. The air purifier for allergies for those on a budget. ...
  • Blue Pure 211+ The air purifier for allergies with the lowest energy consumption. ...
  • Dyson Purifier Cool. ...
  • Rabbit AirMinus A2 Spa-780a. ...
  • Coway AirMega 250. ...
  • Turonic PH950 2-in-1.
9 Sept 2022

What is better for allergies humidifier or air purifier? ›

While they both have their merits, a good air purifier is the better solution when it comes to allergies. Humidifiers can alleviate symptoms and help your body cope during allergy season. Air purifiers, on the other hand, can actively remove allergens from the air you breathe at home.

What is better an air purifier or dehumidifier? ›

While both devices can help allergy sufferers, an air purifier is the best choice. Air purifiers clean the air of allergens, mold spores, dust, bacteria, and pet dander. A dehumidifier can only reduce the spread of dust mites and mold growth.

Can air purifiers help with allergies? ›

For people with allergies, scientific studies have shown that air filtration reduces these airborne allergens and may provide some relief. Experts recommend two types of filtration: For a single room, look for an air cleaner with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter.

Does mopping floors help allergies? ›

Cleaning stirs up all kinds of allergens like dust, dust mites, mold spores, pollen, and animal dander, which can cause allergy symptoms to worsen.

Does cleaning make allergies worse? ›

Oddly enough, allergy symptoms often worsen during or immediately after vacuuming, sweeping and dusting. The process of cleaning can stir up dust particles, making them easier to inhale.

How often should I vacuum if I have allergies? ›

Brushing your pet regularly can help minimize dander inside your home too." You also should vacuum at least once a week – maybe even twice if you're a chronic spring allergy sufferer. "In addition to cleaning and replacing your vacuum filter, you'll want to make sure your vacuum has a HEPA filter as well.

Which air filter is best for allergies? ›

The other upside to air purifiers is the use of HEPA air filters for allergies. High-efficiency particulate air filters are considered the best room air filters for allergies. They can clear 99.97% of particles as small as 0.3 microns from the air.

What causes indoor allergies? ›

If you're stuffed up, sneeze, or get itchy eyes all from the comfort of your home, you may have an indoor allergy. It's triggered by things like pet dander, dust mites, mold spores, and cockroaches.

What air purifier should I buy for allergies? ›

  • Levoit 400S air purifier. The most powerful air purifier for allergies. ...
  • GermGuardian AC4825E. The air purifier for allergies for those on a budget. ...
  • Blue Pure 211+ The air purifier for allergies with the lowest energy consumption. ...
  • Dyson Purifier Cool. ...
  • Rabbit AirMinus A2 Spa-780a. ...
  • Coway AirMega 250. ...
  • Turonic PH950 2-in-1.
9 Sept 2022

What gets rid of allergies fast? ›

Try an over-the-counter remedy
  1. Oral antihistamines. Antihistamines can help relieve sneezing, itching, a stuffy or runny nose, and watery eyes. ...
  2. Corticosteroid nasal sprays. These medications improve nasal symptoms. ...
  3. Cromolyn sodium nasal spray. ...
  4. Oral decongestants.

What am I allergic to in my bedroom? ›

The bedroom is home to a slew of allergens including dust mites, pet dander, chemicals, dust, and molds. Here you may spend 6-8 hours a day sleeping, getting ready for the day, or simply relaxing—which means you have a longer exposure to microscopic critters and particles that cause allergies and allergy-like symptoms.

How do you get rid of dust mite allergies? ›

Wash all sheets, blankets, pillowcases and bedcovers in hot water that is at least 130 F (54.4 C) to kill dust mites and remove allergens. If bedding can't be washed hot, put the items in the dryer for at least 15 minutes at a temperature above 130 F (54.4 C) to kill the mites.

How do u know if u have dust mites? ›

Dust mite allergy symptoms caused by inflammation of nasal passages include:
  1. Sneezing.
  2. Runny nose.
  3. Itchy, red or watery eyes.
  4. Nasal congestion.
  5. Itchy nose, roof of mouth or throat.
  6. Postnasal drip.
  7. Cough.
  8. Facial pressure and pain.
31 Jul 2021

Does vacuuming stir up dust mites? ›

Dust mites do well where humidity is greater than 50% but don't do well in dry conditions. This may be difficult in some seasons and some climates. Plants and fish tanks add to humidity, so keep these out of the bedroom. Dry vacuuming doesn't pick up dust mites.

Should I vacuum or dust first? ›

When doing your thorough cleaning, dust the room before vacuuming so you can vacuum up the particles that float into the air as you work and settle on the floor.

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