Home Cleaning Tips for Allergy Sufferers

People with allergies should make house chores part of their allergy management plans. Cleaning reduces the amount of allergens (substances you are allergic to) in your home, which can help alleviate your allergy symptoms.

But be careful that your cleaning efforts don't backfire, since many cleaning products can cause allergy-like symptoms for some.

"The cleaning product does not trigger an allergy, but it is an irritant," says Julie McNairn, MD, an allergist and immunologist in private practice in Middletown, Ohio. "And an irritant can cause the same symptoms as an allergy."

Symptoms of Allergy Irritation

Symptoms of irritation that can be caused by cleaning products include:

  • Sneezing
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Congestion
  • Asthma attack, wheezing
  • Skin rash

Who Should Clean?

The best way to avoid irritation from cleaning products is to have someone in the household who does not have allergies do the cleaning. Even the act of cleaning, especially doing things like sweeping, can trigger an allergic reaction, because it stirs up dust and other allergens.

However, if you suffer from allergies and must do the cleaning in your home, it can help to use products that are less likely to cause allergy symptoms.

First, a word or two on what not to use.

Home Cleaning: Products to Avoid

It's best to avoid using cleaning products that contain harsh, potentially irritating chemicals. Common home cleaning chemical ingredients that can be irritating include:

  • Formaldehyde
  • Ammonia
  • Sodium lauryl sulphate
  • D-limonene
  • Sodium hypochlorite

These chemicals are found in many cleaning products, including:

  • Furniture polish
  • Disinfectants
  • Mildew removers
  • Dish detergents
  • Dish soaps
  • Laundry detergents
  • Fabric softeners
  • All-purpose cleaners
  • Drain, oven, and glass cleaners

Learn to read labels and stay away from cleaning agents that have these ingredients.

Products to Use for Home Cleaning

For allergy sufferers, the best types of cleaning products are those that are non-toxic. "Green" cleaning products can be better for those with allergies, but read the labels carefully, as some of these products still contain irritating substances.

"The bottom line is that baking soda and vinegar can get just about anything cleaned, in different concentrations for different uses," says McNairn. "You can use white vinegar and baking soda almost anywhere, really, and it doesn't have that 'off' odor that a lot of cleaning supplies have." But, warns McNairn, "You should never mix bleach with vinegar or bleach with ammonia."

McNairn suggests:

  • Vinegar and salt for a surface cleaner
  • Baking soda and water to clean baby bottles
  • Baking soda on carpeting to remove scents or odors
  • Olive oil or lemon juice with vegetable oil for furniture care
  • Ventilation, cinnamon and cloves, or steeped tea for air freshening

Tips to Reduce Allergens at Home

There is no need to obsess about home cleaning, since there is really no way to completely eliminate allergens in your home, McNairn says.

That said, allergy sufferers can benefit from regular home cleaning to reduce indoor allergens, including molds, pollen, pet dander, dust mites, and cockroach droppings.

Here are cleaning tasks you may want to add to your regular routine:

  • Reducing dust-collecting clutter
  • Regularly vacuuming carpeted floors with a double-bag or HEPA filter vacuum
  • Regularly washing blankets and throw rugs
  • Washing all bed linens in hot water every week
  • Keeping counter surfaces clean and dry
  • Not leaving food around, and storing food in sealed containers

Taking a few simple steps to keep dust to a minimum, preventing molds from growing, and controlling cockroaches and other pests may help minimize your allergy symptoms.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *