Autumn is the season for cooler days, the changing colors of leaves, and biting into juicy apples. It is also the time for fall allergies. Ragweed and mold can make fall hard to enjoy. What's more, research shows that global warming may extend ragweed season by about three weeks.
Fall allergens also can be hard to avoid. Mold grows indoors and outdoors in moist areas. Ragweed can come into your house through open doors and windows. And trying to avoid outdoor allergens by spending more time indoors can be an allergy trigger if you are allergic to indoor allergens like dust mites. One way to cut back on fall allergy symptoms is to do a good fall house cleaning.
Start With the Basics
Forget about sweeping with a broom. For a good allergy housecleaning, you need a damp cloth, damp mop, and a good all-purpose detergent mixed with water. You also need a cyclonic vacuum or a vacuum with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter, as well as a mold and mildew spray to clean damp areas.
If you surfer from allergies and have to do the cleaning, wear a mask that's NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) approved as you go room-to-room. After cleaning, leave the house for a few hours to let things settle down.
Room 1: Basement
The basement is a favorite allergy hangout for cockroaches, rodents and mold. Look for mold growing around your home's foundation, under pipes, and around the water heater. Along with cleaning, make sure to fix any leaks. If you see any cockroaches or rodent droppings, call a professional exterminator. Get rid of any old, damp rugs.
Room 2: Kitchen
The heart of your home is a favorite spot for cockroaches, and mold likes to grow under the sink, dishwasher and refrigerator. Make sure to remove all traces of food or garbage and clean inside the fridge and dishwasher. Clean out your trash container, and make sure it has a tight cover. Wash any floor mats to remove tiny or ground-in food particles.
Room 3: Bathroom
This humid room is the perfect environment for mold. Use your mold and mildew spray under the sink, under the toilet, and inside the shower, including on the shower curtain. Make sure you don't leave any moisture behind. Wash all your bath towels and mats.
Room 4: Living Room
Living areas are where you are likely to find the greatest accumulation of dust mites, pet dander, and any ragweed pollen brought in from the outside. Carpeting, upholstery, and window drapes are favorite offenders. That's why allergy specialists suggest easy-to-clean flooring and blinds instead of heavy drapes. Vacuum all your furniture and window treatments along with the floor. Steam-clean your carpets if you must keep them. Don't forget to wipe down all your window sills and doorjambs. Now is a great time to get rid of any old throw rugs to reduce clutter. Finally, don't forget to change all your filters before turning on the heat.
Room 5: Bedroom
You spend the most hours in your bedroom, so it makes sense to clean it carefully. Your bedding and mattress are favorite gathering places for dust mites. In children's bedrooms, stuffed animals are also popular lures. If your mattresses and pillows aren't already encased in allergy-resistant covers that close with a zipper, make covering them part of your fall cleaning project. Wash all bedding in water hot enough to kill dust mites (at least 130 degrees), and throw in any washable stuffed animals. Then dry them at a high temp as well.
Fall allergies like ragweed and outdoor mold can increase allergy symptoms outdoors and also follow you indoors. Spending more time inside with dust mites, indoor molds, cockroaches, and rodents can also add to fall allergy symptoms.
Fall house cleaning tools include wet wipes and mops, a cyclonic or HEPA-filtered vacuum cleaner, and a cleaning solution for mold and mildew.
Target dust mites, pollens, molds, animal dander, cockroaches, and rodents by knowing their favorite hiding places.
Limit your own allergy symptoms while cleaning by wearing a NIOSH-approved mask and leaving the house for awhile after you finish cleaning.