Allergy Treatment Begins At Home (cont.)
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Cleaning and More Cleaning: What Really Helps?
If you are going to undertake to thoroughly clean your home, it is best to ensure at the beginning that the techniques being used are the most effective. The tips discussed below will help you achieve the maximum benefit for all of your efforts.
Soap & Hot Water: Scientific studies of patients who are allergic to dust mites have shown that taking steps to minimize dust mite allergens in the bedroom leads to a decrease in allergic symptoms and medication requirements. Emphasis is placed on the bedroom since people spend at least one third of a 24 hour day there. It is also the room with the greatest number of dust mites.
New synthetic bedding materials are available that are equivalent to down for warmth but can withstand washing more easily because the fibers don't clump. The ideal water temperature for washing is at least 130 degrees F to completely kill the dust mites found throughout the bedding.
When the hot water heater is set to achieve a temperature of 130 degrees F, precautions must be taken to prevent scalding a child. For example, at bath time, always remain in the room with a child and make sure to always turn off the "hot" water faucet first and finish with the "cold" faucet.
The choice of bedding materials becomes important. They must be able to withstand the rigors of weekly hot water washing in order to kill the dust mites and remove accumulated allergens. Many bedding materials may be bulky, making them more difficult to wash. It may be easier to use several layers for warmth instead of bulky items for ease of washing. Since any type of blanket material can support dust mite growth, it is important to select one that can withstand repeated washings.
Vacuuming the Right Way: If the carpet can't be replaced by a solid surface such as linoleum or hardwood, then it must be cleaned thoroughly and frequently. Also remember to vacuum upholstered furniture, draperies, and other fabric items that cannot be washed, removed, or replaced. The trouble with vacuuming is that the allergenic dust mite and mold particles become airborne during the process. Dust mite particles can remain airborne for about 15 minutes and be redistributed throughout the home environment. Allergic persons clearly should not be doing the vacuuming and should also stay out of the area until the dust particles resettle. Dust mite particles also become airborne during bedding changes or the placement of dust covers on the mattress, box spring, and pillows. For severely allergic people, these tasks can lead to significant allergy and possible asthma attacks. Those affected by these allergies should definitely not perform these chores.
Allergic persons should not perform vacuuming tasks and should keep out of the immediate environment for at least 1 hour after the vacuuming has been completed. Damp dusting should then follow to catch any loose particles.
The vacuum cleaner collecting bag acts as the primary filter in most vacuum cleaning systems. A standard bag can be replaced with a high-filtration multi-layer bag and an exhaust filter can be added. These measures prevent the allergen particles from escaping and becoming airborne during the vacuuming process. Replacing the vacuum bags and adding exhaust filters are economical ways to increase the efficiency of an older vacuum. These bags and filters are easily obtained from allergy supply houses. The filters are available in 8" x 10" sheets that can be cut to size for any canister vacuum. Very expensive vacuum units with built-in HEPA systems (High Efficiency Particulate Air-filter) have been available for years. Now, more affordable brands of vacuums come equipped with HEPA filters and a removable canister that can be washed in the top rack of the dishwasher. This system eliminates the problem with vacuum bags. As the older generation of vacuums is phased out, this development should be quite helpful in allergy control. Whole-house vacuum systems, although quite expensive, are also helpful because the dirt collection system is located outside of the house, usually in the garage.
Hard Surfaces Are Easier to Clean Dust mites, molds, animal danders, and insect debris are difficult to thoroughly clear from the environment. However, it really is easier and quicker to clean a hard surface such as wood, tile, vinyl, or leather than it is to clean all those nooks and crannies found in carpet, fabric, or other soft surfaces.
Replacing the carpet with a hard-surfaced floor can eliminate over 90% of dust mites. If you absolutely have to have carpet, get the kind that has a low pile.
The following is a list of suggestions for how to make allergy-proofing an easier task. Hopefully, these ideas will lead to other methods you can use to thoroughly clean and maintain your environment allergy free. Take it one step at a time and focus on the bedrooms first. If you plan on moving, pay close attention to steps that can be taken to allergy-proof prior to moving into the new house. It is much easier to put these ideas into action in the beginning than after everything is in place. It's really not as hard as it looks!
Baby's Room - Special Tips: It's a good idea to eliminate potential irritants and allergens from your baby's environment. Here's what you can do to help eliminate potential sources of allergens from your baby's world.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/16/2014
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