Moving into Spring and Summer brings nicer weather, hotter temperatures and longer days, but it also signifies the start of the dreaded allergy season for those with hayfever and other recurrent sensitivities. However, for many, allergies are actually a year-round problem that requires daily monitoring, with cases of those affected by pet hair, dust mites and mould spores on the rise.
Obsessing over home cleaning is needless as there is no way you can fully eliminate every allergen in your home, but several steps can be taken to reduce them, which has a beneficial outcome for sufferers:
Behind the radiators
Not the most obvious place to check, or the easiest to get to. The space behind your radiators is probably full of dust, and as they will have been on a lot over the winter months, particles will have gathered en masse. Try to vacuum up as much dust as possible using the hand tools and use a damp cloth to try and grab any that the vacuum won’t reach. If it is a particular problem, there are vacuums available which include tools specifically for use behind a radiator.
You may frequently hoover your carpet using a vacuum purpose made to tackle allergens, but cushions, curtains, throws and fabric sofas also attract dust, pollen and pet hair. Give all fabrics a thorough hoovering once a week and wash removeable covers in your washing machine at least seasonally according to instructions. Leave carpet shampooing to the professionals as dust mites love spots with more than 50% humidity and, if not properly dried, underlay can remain damp for days. Hoovering can also stir up particles and make them airborne, so use an air purifier to capture any dust floating about.
A breeding ground for mould spores and mildew, your bathroom needs frequent thorough cleaning. Use a shower curtain that is machine washable and scrub tiles, grout and sealant regularly, as well as checking any taps and pipes for mould. Humidifiers and extractor fans can reduce the moisture in the air that is created by hot showers and baths. If you own one, check the filters regularly. Ensure damp towels are dried thoroughly or, if possible, washed.
Pollen and pollution particles are easily picked up by the clothes and shoes you wear, and even your hair. These are easily transferred onto other materials when in your house, making them near impossible to get rid of. Even opening your front door can let pollutants into your house. Try to clear the external area of your house by sweeping, hosing or even vacuuming the path and reducing the amount of plants or other ornaments which external allergens may cling to. Also, store shoes and coats in an entry area rather than living spaces and remove them before entering the house. Keep entrances clean and clear of clutter.
Use an exhaust fan or cooker hood when preparing food to remove smoke fumes and humidity from the air. Make sure it’s kept dirt-free by regularly cleaning and replacing the carbon filters which purify and release the air back into the room. Try to clean all regularly used worktop surfaces at least once a day with a damp microfibre cloth and disinfectant, and thoroughly dry them using a clean towel. Steam mop the kitchen floor and clean cupboard doors, appliances and tiles at least once a week, as well as checking for leaking taps or pipes that may cause additional moisture and mould. Use your dishwasher to clean plate racks, cutlery holders, drip pans and even your dish sponge weekly, to prevent mould.
When cleaning our kitchens, we frequently overlook this appliance unless it looks like it needs cleaning. Try to completely empty and scrub your fridge clean at least seasonally, and pop the shelves in the dishwasher if they will fit as this is more effective than hand cleaning. Ensure everything is fully dry before reassembling. Check the contents of the fridge regularly for mouldy items and bad smells, ensure all leftovers are stored in tightly sealed containers, and mop up any spills and leaks immediately.
Drying clothes outside is not recommended if you suffer from allergies, due to the ability for damp clothes to pick up excessive amounts of outdoor pollutants. These are then brought into your home and get into contact with skin and other household items. Because of this, your tumble dryer becomes an essential appliance within your home. If you have one, check and clean the lint filter after every use. Examine the outside dryer vent every month or two, checking it is clean and working efficiently to remove moisture from inside the appliance. Always ensure the vent is moving this moisture outside, and never back into the home.