By Danielle Hegedus
The thought of spring cleaning is sometimes met with mixed responses. Some people dread it. Others find the intensive cleaning cathartic. However, spring cleaning is especially important if you or anyone in your family suffers from asthma or allergies. Cleaning can cut the amount of allergens in the air and the potential for dangerous flare-ups.
But dust and fumes kicked up during spring cleaning may irritate your asthma and allergies. This makes it essential to take precautions.
Read on for room-by-room tips to help make cleaning easier for anyone afflicted with asthma and allergies.
The bedroom is a great place to start your spring cleaning, especially if you’re antsy to get rid of clutter. Clutter collects dust. Since you (hopefully) spend eight hours a night here sleeping, you want the best air quality.
- Sort through the clothes in your closet and dresser using three categories: trash, donate and store (use this same system for toys in your child’s bedroom or playroom).
- Clean and put away items that are seasonal (scarves, turtlenecks, heavy sweaters, etc.) and in good condition. This will free up a ton of storage space and make updating your wardrobe in between seasons simple. Donate items that no longer fit or that you haven’t worn in at least nine months. We’ll give you a pass for items that are sentimental—just don’t let it get out of hand!
- Remove piles of books, magazines and papers from around the bed. Paper collects dust, which can aggravate nighttime symptoms.
- Consider donating your cast-offs to a community non-profit. You may even get a tax deduction. Or raise some cash with a garage sale.
- Once the room is clutter-free, attack the dust. Dust may hide on top of ceiling fan blades, on lampshades, underneath the bed, resting on blinds and in your bedding.
- First, take your bedding (including mattress pads) out of the room for cleaning. Wash in hot (130 degree) water.
- Consider using a mask to protect your mouth and nose from dust. Wearing a mask may seem cumbersome, but it can definitely help avoid an attack.
- Vacuum your mattress and use your vacuum’s attachments to reach dust trapped on the ceiling.
- Wipe down your walls, where dust is often hard to spot.
Kitchens and Bathrooms
Just like with bedrooms, the easiest way to deep clean your kitchen or bathroom is by decluttering.
- Dump expired food or chipped dishes from the pantry and cupboards. In the bathroom, toss expired medicine and old makeup or body products.
- You will most likely have hard surfaces to clean in both rooms. Instead of using harsh cleaners, consider allergy-friendly options.
- Replace moldy shower curtains and bathmats.
- Kitchens and bathrooms are both places where mold can grow. Take these precautions if you have a mold allergy.
- Run the exhaust fans in both rooms while you’re cleaning and keep them running afterwards to dry up any excess moisture.
- Clean all of your appliances in the kitchen. The toughest areas include your oven and your refrigerator, so definitely wear your mask. Be on the lookout for mold or mildew. Rubber seals around refrigerator doors often hide a ton of nasty gunk.
- Look for standing water or leaks that can promote the growth of mold.
- Remove any window treatments, since they’re usually packed with dust. Wash or dry clean curtains, and use a damp rag to wipe blinds clean.
- If you can, take upholstered furniture (or at least the cushions) outdoors to beat the dust out of them. Again, definitely wear your mask for this job – or better yet, have someone else do it!
- Use your vacuum’s attachments to clean the crevices of your furniture that you never see. You’ll be shocked at how much debris (food bits or pocket change) collects throughout the year.
- Remove all items from bookshelves, entertainment centers or other surfaces. Wipe surfaces clean using a dry duster. If you want to really trap dirt, try using a non-toxic cleaner that won’t harm the material in order to clean the surface more thoroughly.
- Dust all items such as books, picture frames, vases, etc. before returning to their spaces.
- If you have wall-to-wall carpeting, get it professionally steam cleaned. Carpet traps dust, dirt and street dirt that we track in from outside on our shoes. Stay out of the house for four to six hours afterwards to avoid irritating fumes. If you have area rugs, wash or dry clean as appropriate.
A Final Word of Caution for People with Asthma and Allergies
If you take steps to prevent exposure to dust and fumes, but your asthma and allergies still flare, consider asking a family member or friend for help. Or hire a professional cleaning service if it fits your budget. Remember, your good health is priceless. And, always keep your quick-relief inhaler nearby.
Danielle Hegedus is an Atlanta-based writer. She is a regular contributor to Modernize, as well as a variety of lifestyle and home design websites. Danielle recently finished her first cookbook, in collaboration with Chef Kamal Grant of Atlanta's famous Sublime Doughnuts.