How to Create a Dust-Free Bedroom
If you are dust-sensitive, especially if you have allergies and/or asthma,
you can reduce some of your misery by creating a "dust-free" bedroom.
Dust may contain molds, fibers, and dander from dogs, cats, and other animals,
as well as tiny dust mites. These mites, which live in bedding, upholstered
furniture, and carpets, thrive in the summer and die in the winter. They will,
however, continue to thrive in the winter if the house is warm and humid. The
particles seen floating in a shaft of sunlight include dead mites and their
waste products, The waste products actually provoke the allergic reaction.
The routine cleaning necessary to maintain a dust-free bedroom also can help
reduce exposure to cockroaches, another important cause of asthma in some
You probably cannot control dust conditions under which you work or spend
your daylight hours. To a large extent, however, you can eliminate dust from
your bedroom. To create a dust-free bedroom, you must reduce the number of
surfaces on which dust can collect.
In addition to getting medical care for your dust allergy and/or asthma, the
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases suggests the following
- Completely empty the room, just as if you were moving.
Empty and clean all closets and, if possible, store contents elsewhere and seal
- If this is not possible, keep clothing in zippered plastic bags and
shoes in boxes off the floor.
- Remove carpeting, if possible.
- Clean and scrub the
woodwork and floors thoroughly to remove all traces of dust.
- Wipe wood, tile, or
linoleum floors with water, wax, or oil.
- If you use linoleum, cement it to the
- Close the doors and windows until the dust-sensitive person is ready to
occupy the room.
- Wear a filter mask when cleaning.
- Clean the room
thoroughly and completely once a week.
- Clean floors, furniture, tops of doors,
window frames and sills, etc., with a damp cloth or oil mop.
- Carefully vacuum
carpet and upholstery regularly.
- Use a special filter in the vacuum.
curtains often at 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Air the room thoroughly.
Carpeting makes dust control impossible. Although shag carpets are the
worst type for the dust-sensitive person, all carpets trap dust. Therefore,
health care experts recommend hardwood, tile, or linoleum floors. Treating
carpets with tannic acid eliminates some dust mite allergen. Tannic acid,
- Not as effective as removing the carpet
- Is irritating to some people
Must be applied repeatedly
Beds and Bedding
Keep only one bed in the bedroom.
Most importantly, encase box springs and mattress in a zippered dust-proof or
allergen-proof cover. Scrub bed springs outside the room. If a second bed must
be in the room, prepare it in the same manner.
Use only washable materials on the bed. Sheets, blankets, and other
bedclothes should be washed frequently in water that is at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Lower temperatures will not kill dust mites.
- If you set your hot
water temperature lower (commonly done to prevent children from scalding
themselves), wash items at a laundromat which uses high wash temperatures.
synthetic, such as Dacron, mattress pad and pillow. Avoid fuzzy wool blankets or
feather- or wool-stuffed comforters and mattress pads.
Furniture and Furnishings
Keep furniture and furnishings to a minimum.
- Avoid upholstered furniture and
- Use only a wooden or metal chair that can be scrubbed.
- Use only plain,
lightweight curtains on the windows.
Air filters-either added to a
furnace or a room unit-can reduce the levels of allergens. Electrostatic and
high-efficiency particulate absorption (HEPA) filters can effectively remove
many allergens from the air. If functioning improperly, however, electrostatic
filters may emit ozone, which can be harmful to your lungs if you have asthma.
A dehumidifier may help because house mites need high humidity to live and
grow. You should take special care to clean the unit frequently with a weak
bleach solution (1 cup bleach in 1 gallon water) or a commercial product to
prevent mold growth. Although low humidity may reduce dust mite levels, it might
irritate your nose and lungs.
In addition to the above guidelines, if
you are caring for a child who is dust-sensitive;
- Keep toys that will accumulate
dust out of the child's bedroom.
- Avoid stuffed toys.
- Use only washable toys of
wood, rubber, metal, or plastic.
- Store toys in a closed toy box or chest.
Keep all animals with fur or feathers out of the bedroom. People allergic to
dust mites often are allergic to cats, dogs, or other animals.
Although these steps may seem difficult at first, experience plus habit will
make them easier. The results-better breathing, fewer medicines, and greater
freedom from allergy and asthma attacks-will be well worth the effort.
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Portions of the above information was provided with the kind permission of
the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institute of Health (http://www.niaid.nih.gov/publications)Last Editorial Review: 7/26/2007