Allergy Flare-Ups While Cleaning

July 5, 2011 at 9:47 pm Leave a comment

Discover how to keep allergens at bay by using the right cleaning products in every room of your house.

If you experience indoor allergies, you know how important it is to keep your home clean to minimize the impact of allergens like dust mites, pet dander, and mold. But in an unfortunate allergy catch-22, using the wrong cleaning products can actually make allergy symptoms even worse.

Household CleanersIt’s apparently a big problem. In a recent survey by the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, up to 62 percent of patients reported having allergy symptoms caused by indoor allergens. But there are several things you can do to minimize exposure to harmful chemicals and still end up with a sparkling-clean home.

Which Cleaning Products Worsen Allergy Symptoms?

While care should be used with any cleaning product, “avoid anything that has strong noxious odors, such as ammonia, and products that produce particulates, including air fresheners and ozone generators,” says James L. Sublett, MD, section chief of pediatric allergy at the University of Louisville School of Medicine and managing partner of Family Allergy and Asthma in Louisville, Ky.

Aerosol spray cleaners are another item to scratch off your shopping list. Not only can they trigger allergy symptoms, but a recent study also found that weekly use of cleaning sprays was linked with increases in asthma, asthma-medication use, and wheezing among women and men. Even more frequent use of these cleaners was associated with greater risk.

What Cleaning Products Should You Use?

Dyson Animal HEPA Vacuum

Dyson Animal HEPA Vacuum

“On smooth surfaces, use products that have minimal odors,” Dr. Sublett says. Also, use dust cloths and mops that pick up and retain the dust rather than those that stir it into the air. Vacuuming is another trouble spot. Cyclonic vacuums or vacuums with HEPA filters are good choices for removing allergens. Wearing a dust mask rated by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health at N95 while working can also help keep allergy symptoms at bay.

Finally, don’t forget to use the washing machine to your advantage. Everything from bedding (including mattress pads) to your kids’ stuffed animals should be washed regularly with hot water to keep allergen accumulation low.

And while using a detergent labeled “hypoallergenic” is a good idea, keep in mind that even some of these might cause an allergy flare-up. Through trial and error, you can find gentle yet effective brands that don’t bother you and your loved ones.

What About Natural Cleaning Remedies?

Green Seal Certified LogoMore and more green products seem to be competing with traditional household cleaners for shelf space. “In general, they are better, since they are environmentally friendly,” says Sublett. But be careful: Many products make vague promises, since there are no strict regulations on advertising claims, so read the label to see what ingredients are used. Also, look for the Green Seal of Approval, a “thumbs-up” given by Green Seal, an independent nonprofit organization that rigorously tests products to make sure they work and are good for the environment.

Lavender SprigAnother great option for your health and your pocketbook is to take advantage of items already found in the kitchen. Make your own glass cleaner by mixing a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice in a quart of water, spraying it on and using newspaper to wipe the glass dry. Furniture polish can be made by combining a teaspoon of lemon juice with a pint of mineral or vegetable oil. Deodorize carpets by sprinkling baking soda liberally, waiting at least 15 minutes and then vacuuming. Mothballs can be avoided by using cedar chips, lavender flowers, rosemary, mint, or white peppercorns.

With the right products, some elbow grease, and a regular cleaning regimen, you can find allergy relief in your home.

Written By Kristen Stewart medically reviewed by Cynthia Haines, MD

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Entry filed under: allergans, allergies, asthma, green cleaning, green cleaning products, Green Seal Certified, health, Housecleaning Tips, immunology, natural housecleaning, Non-toxic Cleaning Products. Tags: , , , , , .

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