Dust the baseboards. Check! Tackle the pantry. Check! And the bookshelves, and the — achoo! Spring cleaning stirring up allergens?
It’s a double-edged sword. While tidy surfaces bring relief, cleaning them releases allergens into the air. How do you overcome this dilemma? Follow these tips from the pros.
Get to the root of the problem. Know your triggers and limits. Ear, nose and throat surgeon and board certified otolaryngologist Maureen Mulcahy of Lake Grove ENT in Lake Oswego, Oregon, advises patients to get tested to identify specific allergens. “Then they can have a more targeted approach to cleaning,” she says.
Spring for HEPA filters. Only sweep with a vacuum that contains a HEPA filter. And preferably someone who doesn’t suffer from allergies should take on the chore. But if it can’t be avoided, Mulcahy recommends you wear a mask. John Alzubi, owner of Smart Choice Cleaning in Springfield, Virginia, adds that wearing goggles helps, too.
Seek out water sources. Any freestanding water in the home presents a mold hazard. “Spring cleaning is a good time to look at any potential water source in your house,” Mulcahy says. “If you have a leaky faucet or pipes that need better sealing, take care of that.”
Crack open the windows (or shut them tight). During allergy season, sufferers have inflamed mucous membranes. Mulcahy recommends ventilation if you’re cleaning with any harsh chemicals. However, Michele Oswald, owner of Extra Step Cleaning in Ballwin, Mo., says that if outside allergens are your triggers, such as pollen or ragweed, you might want to keep them shut.
Avoid odors. Alzubi says to use fragrance-free cleaning products to avoid exacerbating allergy symptoms. He recommends green cleaning products, and avoiding bleach. Once again, it depends on your particular allergy. If you need to kill allergens, especially mold, Oswald says hydrogen peroxide acts as a natural bleach that won’t assault your senses.
Trap dust — don’t release it. “Don’t use feather dusters at all,” Alzubi says. He recommends something that can capture the dust, like a damp microfiber cloth.
Maximize efficiency. Clean and dust top to bottom, left to right and inside to outside, says Alzubi. This eliminates unnecessary work.
Don’t ignore your bedroom. Oswald says consumers often instruct cleaners to skip their bedrooms, because no one will see them. However, Oswald and Mulcahy agree that the bedroom is the most important place to keep clean since you spend most of your time there. “You’re in there for eight hours every night,” Oswald says. “Make your room your sanctuary.”
Call in reinforcements. Sometimes it might be best to hire a highly rated house cleaner to get your house in tiptop shape.
Mulcahy says to communicate openly with the cleaner, so they understand you’re targeting specific problem areas. Oswald prefers that clients tell her about any allergy issues, including sensitivity to chemicals.
Alzubi adds that you can hire a house cleaner to do it all, or just for help in those allergen-ridden locations. His company charges $95 per hour with a one-and-a-half hour minimum for two cleaners, supplies and equipment.”Ask a company what their minimum time requirement is,” he says. “Then make a punch list of the items you hate to do the most.”
Stephanie Snay is a writer for Angie’s List, www.angieslist.com, a resource for consumer reviews.