It's the week I dread. No, not because I need to cook an edible Easter meal for a house full of guests or attempt to keep the kids busy during spring break. With the heralding of spring comes spring cleaning, and I can't say I enjoy the task.
If you're one of the 40 million people who suffer from allergies, particularly dust or chemical sensitivities, spring cleaning can be more than unpleasant -- it can be downright dangerous, causing wheezing, sneezing, itchiness, and other allergic reactions. To avoid these problems, follow the general guidelines below before you begin to tackle the room-by-room checklist that follows.
- If you're allergic to pollen, do your spring cleaning early in the season (like now!), so you can keep all of your windows open for full ventilation. Once the pollen's out, you'll want your house closed up.
- Wear a mask, especially when vacuuming or dusting.
- Use electrostatically charged cleaning cloths or damp-dust so that you trap the dust instead of sending it airborne through your house.
- Use a good HEPA filter on your vacuum and replace it as recommended.
- Schedule to have your air-conditioning ducts professionally cleaned, and be sure to change the filters once every few months or per the manufacturer's instructions. Likewise, if you're still turning on your heat, change your furnace filter regularly too, since dust and dander can accumulate if it's not changed regularly during the winter months.
- Consider buying or renting a vapor steam-cleaner, which can more than pay for itself because of its effectiveness. You can use vapor steam-cleaners throughout your entire house to wipe out germs, grime, and dust from floors, furniture, drapes, tiles, countertops, and more without aggravating allergies. (Be sure that the machine is a vapor steam-cleaner instead of a water-extraction cleaner which uses a chemical cleaning solution and water, since those types can contribute to mold and mildew.)
Before You Begin:
Feel the urge to purge: Take a day to sort through any clutter, organizing it into boxes: to save, to store, to giveaway and to sell (eBay here I come). Less clutter means less dust and an easier time cleaning in general.
Make this room your first priority. The biggest bedroom threat is usually dust mites, because they thrive on moisture and live off of human skin. They are also the chief indoor allergy culprits.
- Wash all bedding and sheets on the hottest setting and vacuum or vapor steam-clean the carpeting. If you have throw rugs, wash them according to the manufacturer's instructions.
- Dust fan blades by wet-dusting or using Murphy's Oil Soap as directed. Damp-dust window sills and shelves.
- Now is a great time to collect all of your kids' stuffed animals and launder them on the hottest setting. If they cannot be washed in hot water, put them in the freezer for a few hours, then wash them in cold water. It helps get rid of the dust mites.