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Give Allergies a Spring Cleaning

Experts offer tips on ridding homes of harmful allergens

SUNDAY, May 22, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Spring cleaning is an annual rite for millions of Americans, especially those with allergies. In fact, one study found that 67 percent of allergy sufferers routinely clean their homes and work spaces in the spring in an attempt to prevent allergy symptoms.

Experts at the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) have some tips for making this type of cleaning as safe and effective as possible.

"When allergy sufferers clean properly, they can manage their indoor air quality, and lessen the nasal congestion, coughing, sneezing, headaches and severe, flu-like symptoms they often experience," Mike Tringale, AAFA director of marketing and communications, said in a prepared statement.

As part of National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month in May, the AAFA wants to emphasize the importance of using the most appropriate and effective cleaning methods to reduce common indoor allergy triggers such as dust mites and pet dander. These include:

  • Maintaining the humidity of your home below 50 percent.
  • Vacuuming regularly with a double-bag or HEPA vacuum cleaner.
  • Keeping pets off the furniture.
  • Bathing cats and dogs every week.
  • Encasing mattresses and pillows in airtight, allergen-proof covers.
  • Washing bed linens in hot water once a week.

Restricting cleaning to just sweeping floors can actually make allergies worse, the experts warn, because it may stir up pet dander and dust mites.

Household mold is another common indoor allergy trigger. To manage this allergen, the AAFA recommends that you:

  • Run the air conditioner during humid months.
  • Fix leaky pipes to limit moisture in the home.
  • Use exhaust fans to increase kitchen and bathroom ventilation.
  • Clean and kill mold spores on hard, non-porous surfaces with an EPA-registered cleaning solution that contains low concentrations of bleach.
  • Remove moldy soft surfaces immediately.

More information

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has more about allergies.

SOURCE: Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, news release
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