Down with Dust and Dander
Dust and pet dander are quite the sneeze-inducing couple. They gather at some of the same hangouts and, in fact, they're quite attracted to one another. This makes your cleaning job a little easier because most of the work you'll do getting rid of one will help take care of the other. Here are some tips on kicking this duo to the curb:
Dust with microfiber cloths and dusters. Microfiber does a great job of picking up dust along with almost 99 percent of bacteria in a home. Not only does it catch dust, but it can also help you cut down on the use of chemical cleaners.
Make time for a thorough vacuuming. Cover all the bases: blinds, upholstery, carpeting, and any other nooks and crannies where dust and dander can reside. Be sure your cleaner has a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, otherwise, the dust and allergens it collects will expel back into the air. If your machine is bag-less, empty the container outdoors. If it takes bags, see if you can find the allergen-filtration variety. Don't forget to sweep hard flooring frequently.
Wash bedding regularly. Ideally, you'll want to wash your sheets and covers every one to two weeks. When you do, make sure the water is hot enough (130 degrees Fahrenheit/ 54 degrees Celsius) to kill allergens.
Shampoo carpeting. You can have this done professionally or do it yourself with your own machine. Just be sure to use a cleaner with a quick-drying feature so that mold doesn't build up in your carpet.
Clean window coverings. Whether they're machine-washable or dry clean only, clean curtains once a month. Many blinds can be wiped with a damp cloth or microfiber duster.
Pay special attention to your mattress. According to a CBS News report, as many as 2 million dust mites can live in a mattress. It's a top spot for dander as well. So, it's a good idea to vacuum your mattresses and box springs once a month. You'll also want to encase them in allergen-protectant coverings.
Wipe down walls and air vents. When doing so, use a damp cloth or sponge. You'll also need to change the filters for your HVAC unit at least once a month.
Ongoing or As-needed
Cut out clutter: toys, stacks of papers, piles of clothes. All of these are magnets for dust and dander. Keeping your home clutter-free is a good way to reduce allergens.
Use specially formulated fabric fresheners. Many fabric freshener manufacturers now make products in allergen-eliminating formulas, so opt for those over the traditional fresheners.
Remove allergen collectors: If you can afford to make larger-scale changes in your home, consider trading out carpeting for hardwood or laminate flooring, upholstered furniture for leather and down comforters for bedding with synthetic filling. These changes are especially important for bedrooms.
Now, let's tackle the next major allergen: mold.