Many people think of allergies as a spring problem, but most sniffle sufferers know that fall can pose its own issues. Mold and ragweed are common fall allergy triggers, as well as dust mites, which are naturally more prevalent in the home during the drier months.
“You can turn your home into a safe haven from fall allergens with regular, strategic cleaning and a few preventive measures,” says Robin Wilson, an interior design expert and an ambassador with the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
To help make your home more comfortable this season, Wilson is offering some fall cleaning tips to eliminate allergens and maintain a clean and healthy space:
• Wash your bedding. Mattress and pillow protectors will help control dust mites. As an added precaution, wash your bedding in warm or hot water every month and replace pillows every three years.
• Check for mold. Moisture breeds mold, so make sure to scan the inside of dishwashers, under the fridge in the water pan and in sink and bath drains. Change water dispensers and icemaker filters on a regular basis.
• Vacuum frequently. Whether you have wall-to-wall carpeting, tile or hardwood floors, it’s important to eliminate dust and dirt. Vacuum, mop or steam clean flooring regularly.
“Use a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, which captures small particles such as allergens, irritants and pollutants,” says Wilson.
For example, the Panasonic MC-UL429 Vacuum has a HEPA filter and accessories that allow you to be more thorough and get into tight corners. This vacuum also comes with an attachment that pulls pet hair — another potential allergen — out of upholstered surfaces. More information can be found at www.shop.panasonic.com.
• Wash or freeze stuffed toys. If your child sleeps with their favorite stuffed animals, you should frequently wash or freeze them in a plastic bag for 48 hours. This will lower the level of dust mites which can trigger asthma and allergies.
• Use Slipcovers. Slipcovers have come a long way in the last 10 years. Since they can be cleaned regularly and more easily than upholstery, consider using them on sofas and other furniture.
• Keep ragweed outside. After spending time outside, have your child leave any clothing or sports equipment close to the entrance of the home to avoid tracking irritants throughout rooms.
“Just because the pollen count isn’t through the roof doesn’t mean you can’t fall prey to allergies,” says Wilson. “With regular cleaning, you can manage the irritants in your home and make it a more breathable place.”