Instead of phoning it in, try these cleaning tips if you struggle with a dust allergy.
Home is supposed to be a refuge where you can escape all external irritants, like people who play music on their phones without using earbuds. But if you have a dust allergy, being at home can irritate you, too, resulting in sneezing, itchy or watery eyes, runny or stuffy nose, and general misery.
Not-so-fun fact: If you have a dust allergy, that means you’re actually allergic to dust mites, which are microscopic organisms that feed off of house dust and moisture in the air, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Dust mites are one of the most common indoor allergens, the organization says, so if you struggle with a dust allergy that has made your home your nemesis, you’re not alone.
It seems like the solution is simple—just clean your place—but how you clean really matters, Maeve O’Connor, M.D., founder and medical director of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Relief in Charlotte, North Carolina, tells SELF. And this is especially important if you have asthma and your allergies can trigger an asthma attack.
1. Sorry, but you should really clean your place at least once a week.
At least, that’s what the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology recommends for people with indoor allergies. If you can do it more often, that’s even better, Purvi Parikh, M.D., an allergist/immunologist with Allergy & Asthma Network, tells SELF. “It’s best to try to clean at least two times per week if possible,” she says. Don’t look at us like that! We know, it’s easier said than done. Just do what you can.
2. Dampen your dust rag rather than using one that’s dry as a bone.
Using a dry rag isn’t going to do much. “You’re just moving dust around,” Dr. O’Connor says. That’s why she recommends using a moist cloth to help capture dust and the mites that feed on it. There are plenty of dusting sprays out there that you can use, or you can simply sprinkle some water on a cloth, Dr. O’Connor says.
3. Vacuum, too, but use the right kind.
Any vacuuming is better than none at all. But if you really want to take out dust mites, it’s a good idea to get a vacuum with a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, the AAAAI says, since it’s good at capturing tiny particles like dust mites. You’ll also want to change your vacuum’s filter regularly, Dr. O’Connor says. Each vacuum is different, so be sure to read the instructions on yours to see how often you should do this.
Carpets can easily house dust mites, so if you have one, you should try to run a vacuum over it weekly if not more often, Dr. Parikh says. If you can help it, it’s best to avoid carpeting altogether, she says. Instead, you can use rugs, which are much easier to wash (more on exactly how to do that in a bit).
4. Wear a mask, gloves, and long clothing when you clean.
The ACAAI recommends wearing an N95 filter mask while you dust, sweep, and vacuum. This face mask creates a physical barrier between your mouth, nose, and contaminants in the environment, the Food and Drug Administration says. It’s also excellent at filtering out minute particles.
If you tend to get itchy skin from dust mites, you might want to take things a step further and wear a shirt with long sleeves, pants, and disposable gloves when you clean, Dr. O’Connor says. Make sure to wash those clothes ASAP afterward, since they can contain dust mites, and toss your gloves after, she says.
5. Leave the house for a few hours after a deep clean, or at least continue to wear your mask for a bit.
Dust and dust mites tend to get airborne when you clean, and it can take more than two hours for them to settle again, the ACAAI says. Translation: Don’t do a deep clean of your bedroom right before you go to sleep unless you like restless nights.
|Read on: Dust Allergy: How to Clean Your Home to Tame Symptoms | SELF|