Sniffles, sneezing, itchy eyes — all signs (or symptoms) of winter’s arrival. But for a lot of people, allergies — not the cold weather or flu season — are to blame for the onset of runny noses and nagging coughs. But shouldn’t the end of spring and summer spell relief for allergy sufferers? Unfortunately, while you won’t be faced with outdoor allergens like pollen, plenty of other allergens like dust mites and pet dander are ready to snuggle up to you indoors. But before you stock up on tissue and decongestant, grab your broom, power up your dehumidifier, and read these eco-friendly cleaning tips to ease your suffering by maintaining a cozy home with clean, allergen-free air.
Understanding winter allergies
Whether you have sensitive skin or are prone to seasonal allergies like cedar fever, you might be triggered by any number of common culprits, including dust mites, mold spores, pet dander, and indoor pollutants. That’s because as we try to keep doors and windows sealed to conserve heat, we trap many allergens inside with us. This increases exposure as well as exacerbates symptoms.
For those with sensitivities, issues can range from sneezing to mild congestion to respiratory issues. So taking thoughtful steps to minimize indoor allergens is no small matter — it will literally help allergy sufferers breathe easier.
Must-know cleaning tips for allergies in winter
From problem areas to keep mindful of to how to tackle pet hair, here are a few ways you can alleviate allergy-related afflictions this winter.
Deep clean carpets and upholstery
Carpets and upholstery can be full of allergens. If you can, use a vacuum cleaner equipped with a HEPA filter, which traps even microscopic particles and debris. For an extra layer of protection, use a hypoallergenic fabric spray on your upholstery. Particularly for those with sensitive skin, seek out natural solutions like baking soda and water to clean carpets, and ensure they are thoroughly dried to prevent mold growth — another allergy!
Wash bedding and curtains regularly
Bedding and curtains are prime spots for dust mites and allergens to accumulate. Stop them in their tracks by using hypoallergenic laundry detergent sheets to wash your bedding and curtains. Packaged in biodegradable material, these plant-based sheets deliver a powerful clean without any of the harsh chemicals and potential irritants found in traditional detergents.
For some extra allergy protection, you might want to use allergen-proof covers on pillows and mattresses. For the best approach, check out our guide on how to properly clean your bedding before you get started.
Tackle any mold or mildew
Winter often brings humidity, which can create a breeding ground for mold and mildew. To prevent this, regularly inspect areas prone to moisture, such as bathrooms, kitchens, and basements. You can also use a dehumidifier to control indoor humidity levels, keeping them between 30-50%. This inhibits the growth of mold and dust mites. If you happen to find mold in your home, use natural solutions like white vinegar or hydrogen peroxide to eliminate it and prevent it from recurring. Call a professional if necessary.
Hard flooring is a great defense against allergies
If you’re looking to do a little home renovation, swapping out old carpet is a great way to reduce indoor allergens. That’s because while it’s easy for participles like dust and pet hair to accumulate in carpet fibers, they’re not so easy to remove. On the other hand, hard floor options like hardwood and tile are easier to clean and less likely to harbor allergens. Of course, you can still stay warm this winter by adding area rugs and washing and vacuuming them regularly to prevent build-up.
Clean air ducts and vents
Like most things in your home, air ducts and vents can accumulate dust, mold, and other allergens. Make sure you have clean vents and air filters installed to keep the air fresh and clean in your home. Every week, dust vents and air ducts to minimize build-up. And at least once a year, consider hiring a professional service to clean and inspect your HVAC system, ensuring clean and allergen-free air circulation all season long.
Create a pet cleaning routine
If you have pets, you might be prone to more indoor allergies during winter. Less time outdoors walking or running means more pet hair will collect inside your home. So, establish a regular cleaning routine to manage dander. Vacuum pet areas frequently, groom your furry friends regularly, and use all-natural, allergen-reducing sprays on their bedding. These steps will help keep your home healthy for both you and your pet.
Use an air purifier
If you’re looking for relief, a quality air purifier will provide you with some extra support at home. Air purifiers are essential tools for anyone grappling with indoor allergies, particularly during winter when they tend to be more concentrated. They work by using specialized filters, often including HEPA filters, designed to capture even the tiniest particles. By continuously filtering the air, purifiers can significantly reduce allergen levels in your home.
For extra care, you can also find air purifiers equipped with filters to capture mold spores, which are a significant source of irritation for allergy sufferers.
Don’t forget to clean personal items
Give regular care to belongings like stuffed animals, throw pillows, and decorative cushions. By washing with hypoallergenic laundry detergent sheets, you will help ensure they’re allergen-free and fresh all winter long.
Remember, it’s always recommended that you consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice on managing allergies. However, with the right strategies, you can significantly reduce exposure to allergens. Breathe easy and enjoy winter!