Indoor Allergens: Tips and Products for a Clean Home

Posted 4.22.11 | Mallory West

As allergy season approaches and the layer of pollen builds on our cars, patio furniture and everything in between, going outside can become downright miserable for allergy sufferers. On days with peak pollen levels, sometimes its best for those of us with seasonal allergies to avoid the outdoors as much as possible, at least until a good rain helps wash away some of the pollen.

If you or your child has indoor allergens, avoiding allergy triggers is not so easy. Indoor allergens include pet dander, diet mites, mold spores and even (gasp!) cockroaches. They may float in the air or may rest on surfaces like counters, furniture, rugs, carpet, etc. It’s impossible to have a totally allergen-free home but you can minimize indoor allergens using the following tips.

Tips for Minimizing Indoor Allergens in Your Home:

  • Cover pillows and mattresses with allergen-proof covers.
  • Each week, wash bedding (and your little one’s stuffed animals) in hot water (130 degrees F); Dry on hot.
  • Dehumidifiers and air conditioners should be used to keep indoor humidity below 50 percent.
  • If possible, try to avoid wall-to-wall carpeting; Area rugs are okay if cleaned regularly.
  • Vacuuming can just stir dust around… Consider buying a vacuum cleaner with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter.
  • Wear a dust mask when vacuuming to avoiding inhaling airborne dust.
  • Keep dust levels low by mopping hard floors with a damp mop each week.
  • Clean flat surfaces (counters, furniture, window sills, blinds, etc.) weekly using a damp cloth.
  • To avoid mold, fix any leaks in the roof or pipes. Clean any visible mold.
  • If cockroaches are a problem, block all possible entrances (cracks, windows) and hire an exterminator to clear out any cockroaches in the home.
  • Always seal food and use covered trash cans to help prevent cockroaches from returning.

Pet Allergies:

It is especially difficult if someone in the family develops a pet allergy. Pets are often part of the family so getting rid of the allergen is not so easy. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology provides some tips on managing pet allergies in the home.

Allergy-Friendly Cleaning Products:

Cleaning can be tricky for allergy-sufferers because certain cleaning products can actually make allergies worse. Plus, if you have little ones playing on the carpet, touching surfaces and putting everything in their mouth, you want to make sure you use a safe, non-toxic cleaning product. Here are some tips for choosing safe, allergy-friendly cleaning products.

  • In general, environmentally-friendly, “green” cleansers will have less harsh chemicals. Look for products that say “non-toxic”, “petroleum-free”, “biodegradable”, “phosphate-free”, “VOC-free” and “solvent-free”.
  • Avoid cleaning products with strong odors, like ammonia.
  • Avoid aerosol sprays.
  • Spray-on carpet cleaners contain chemicals that remain on the carpet so you should avoid these as much as possible, especially if you have little ones crawling around. Steam cleaners are a safe alternative. Another idea is to sprinkle baking soda on the carpet, let it sit for half an hour or so and then vacuum.
  • If you want to really minimize chemical exposure, clean with items from your kitchen. Vinegar, baking soda or good old-fashioned soap should do the trick! This website has some good recipes for various types of homemade cleaners.
  • Hypoallergenic laundry detergents are a good idea if your family has allergies. Keep in mind that no detergent is hypoallergenic for everyone so you may have to try a few different kinds before you find one that works best for your family.

I hope this article gave you some helpful ideas for keeping your home clean, safe and allergy-friendly. Have tips or homemade cleaner recipes to share? Please send them our way! Mallory

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Food Allergy Living is a resource for parents of children with food allergies, brought to you by Nutricia, the makers of Neocate. For more in-depth information about our purpose & authors, see our About Food Allergy Living page.