Easing the Sneezing: House Cleaning Tips

WebMD Live Events Transcript

Does allergy season make you run inside and bolt the door? Be careful, your home may hold more allergens than the great outdoors! We found out how to make our living spaces sparkling and allergy-free when The Queen of Clean®, Linda Cobb, joined us on WebMD Live, April 7, 2004.

The opinions expressed herein are the guests' alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

MODERATOR:
Welcome to WebMD Live, Linda. Why do my dust bunnies breed as quickly as real bunnies?
COBB:
That's a cute question. Dust bunnies seem to grow larger by the minute, because dust attracts dust. Just like people, dust bunnies like companionship, so what started out as a small one on Monday, by Friday can become a dusty monster.

MODERATOR:
So you're saying that it's probably a good idea to nip dirt in the bud?

COBB:
Exactly. If you have allergies, the first thing you want to consider is removing the things that are difficult to clean from your home. Carpet is the very first thing that comes to mind, because no matter how often you vacuum carpet, it still maintains the dust in the lower levels of it. It's a great place for pollen and other things that you're allergic to, which come off your shoes on to the carpet. If you have pets, carpet will also hold the dander, which is what causes the allergies.

MEMBER QUESTION:
I can't get rid of the carpet. I rent. What can I do to get it as clean as possible?

COBB:
First of all, use a vacuum cleaner that has a beater bar and a canister instead of a bag. Every time you vacuum, empty the canister. That increases the vacuum suction, so it picks up more, basically. Also, have the carpet cleaned or clean it yourself with a steam cleaner every six months. Adding about a half cup of white vinegar to the solution you use is a good idea. Vacuum every day, if you have serious allergies. If you don't have serious allergies, a couple times a week is a good idea.

MODERATOR:
What does the vinegar do?

COBB:
The vinegar, because it's an acid, rinses out the alkaline from the carpet cleaner, and many times the residue from the carpet cleaner will give you allergies, too.

MEMBER QUESTION:
What can I do to prevent dust from returning almost immediately after I dust? I use Pledge or orange oil.

COBB:
When you dust, use a lamb's wool duster. Lamb's wool contains lanolin, which attracts the dirt and holds it, but doesn't put any chemical on the furniture. Furniture polishes mostly contain silicone, which is not good for your furniture, or for you.

The other thing is to change your furnace filter every month, if you have allergies and a dust problem. On other hard surfaces, such as glass or appliances, use 1/4 cup liquid fabric softener, combined with 1 cup water in a spray bottle. Spray it on and wipe it off, and that will help to repel the dirt.

MODERATOR:
The fabric softener doesn't cause streaks on windows?

COBB:
Use it on glass tables or metal appliances, not windows.

MEMBER QUESTION:
So should I not use any type of furniture polish?

COBB:
About three to four times a year use an olive oil polish, which is 1 cup of olive oil, ¼ cup of white vinegar. Apply it with a soft cloth and buff. It actually nourishes the wood. It's all natural. You're not going to have allergies from it.

MEMBER QUESTION:
What about alcohol for TV screens?

COBB:
Alcohol is a good cleaner for glass surfaces. Shut the TV off first, of course, and mix the alcohol 50-50 with water and spray it on to your cloth or paper towel. Never spray directly on to your TV screen. Again, a good alternative is to use your lamb's wool duster there.

MEMBER QUESTION:
Where do you find lambs wool dusters?

COBB:
You can find them at linen stores; you can go into cleanofqueen.com for more information on them. Make sure they're lamb's wool dusters, not those magic dusters that you have to recharge by rubbing over a sweater. Lamb's wool will last for years, and is washable.

MEMBER QUESTION:
When I sweep the floor, the dust flies. What's the best way to get the dirt off of the floor without buying one of those expensive floor-cleaning systems?

COBB:
First of all, vacuuming is better than dust mopping. If you have a vacuum with a beater bar, it should have a hard floor setting. Also, the small battery-powered stick vacs work well. If you have wood floors, vacuuming them and then washing with tea and I do mean t-e-a tea, is wonderful for the wood and won't cause any allergies. Boil a quart or so of water and steep three or four tea bags until it comes to room temperature. Mop or hand-wash the wood floor with that. Tannic acid is great for wood floors.



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