Allercy and Asthma Health
The Official Publication of AAN - MA

Cover Story: Your Spring Cleaning Survival Guide


By Teresa Summe, RRT, AE-C

Springtime is here, and it’s a wonderful time of year for everyone, including allergy sufferers who know how to survive the season. While the warm weather will cause the trees and grass to be green and the flowers to bloom, it will also cause pollen counts to increase and make allergy sufferers feel miserable. But people with allergies can enjoy this time of year — if they take a few precautions.

These tips can help you enjoy this beautiful weather and keep your home allergen free at the same time —

  • Although you may want to open the windows and smell the inviting outdoor air, don’t! Instead, stay inside and turn on your air conditioning. Opening your windows will only serve to bring the pollen into your home. Pollen attaches to your clothes, furniture, and walls. Remember to change your air filter monthly.
  • Be sure to dust with a damp cloth that is scent-free to keep the allergens off your furniture and surfaces. Wash curtains in hot water and wipe the blinds/verticals with an odor-free damp cloth. Although air fresheners, scents, and candles smell good, they can be irritating to the nose and lungs.
  • Clean your floors weekly with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter vacuum or damp mop. Warm moist air increases pests, dust mites, and mold growth, so keep the humidity in your home at 50% or less. Hygrometers can be purchased to measure the humidity in your home and help you adjust your air conditioner accordingly.
  • Always wear a mask when cleaning your bathrooms and kitchen. The chemicals in the cleaning products can be irritating and toxic to your eyes, nose, and lungs, so be sure to have proper ventilation when using any of these, whether allergen-friendly products or not.
  • For those of you who have pets — their fur, saliva, and dander can keep your eyes and nose stuffy and running. It is best to bathe animals, trim their fur, and keep them out of your bedroom so you have an allergy-free place to sleep.
  • The next step of your survival guide is an allergen-friendly pillow and bedding encasement to help you get a good night’s sleep. The encasements fit over your pillow and mattress to prevent pollen, dust mites, and other allergens from settling into your bedding. Wash your pillowcases and sheets weekly in hot water. Cleaning them will help eliminate pollen and dust mites that can be triggering your allergies with each breath you take.
  • If you go outside to enjoy the warm weather or mow your lawn, wear a particulate mask. The mask will help you enjoy the outdoors where everything is blooming while protecting your nose and lungs from the allergens. When you are finished, be sure to wipe your feet on a mat, change your clothes, and shower to avoid bringing pollen into your home.

If the tips in this spring cleaning guide do not eliminate your allergy symptoms, talk with your doctor about additional options to feel better and enjoy the spring weather.

Teresa Summe is a member of the American Association for Respiratory Care from Florida, where she is the coordinator of the Asthma and COPD Management Programs at Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers. She is a respiratory therapist and a certified asthma educator.

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