Lightweight and often invisible to the naked eye, at Move Out Mates we learned they roam in just about any building and annoy allergy sufferers to no end.
And with pet dander, pollen, dust mites and other allergy-inducing troublemakers being so prevalent, it’s easy to just give up and admit defeat.
However, while you can never fully rid your rental from allergens, the cleaning tips you’ll find below will ensure that your encounters with these unpleasant guests will be few and far between. Is choosing tenants the right thing or better prepare the rental instead?
So, arm yourself with all the cleaning essentials, because this battle is not over yet!
Wipe away the dust and its itsy-bitsy inhabitants
Dust is your number one enemy with allergies. It is the domain of countless dust mites – small, spider-like creatures that are invisible to the human eye, and whose shed skin and faeces are the bane of almost allergy sufferers.
However, when dusting your home, avoid using dry cleaning cloths since this will only send the dust and all allergen particles it contains flying into the air and make matters much worse. Here is what you should do instead:
- Clean surfaces with a damp cloth to gather all dust;
- Wear a mask with an air filter to prevent an allergic reaction;
- Put an end to all clutter, such as stacks of books and knick-knacks.
Upgrade your vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter or book professional PHWE
You already know that vacuuming your carpeting and upholstered furniture once a week is probably the wise thing to do. What you probably were not aware of, however, is that most vacuum cleaners end up scattering dust mite particles just as much as a dry cleaning cloth, if not more.
A brilliant solution here is to attach a HEPA filter to your vacuum machine.
High-efficiency particulate air filters are designed to quickly trap any allergens contained within household dust, be it dust mites, pollen, or pet dander.
And this useful invention is not restricted to vacuum cleaners alone.
To enjoy a fresher air inside your home, you can also consider purchasing HEPA filters for your air conditioner and your air purifier, especially if you have pets.
Pressurised hot-water extraction cleaning
PHWE is the best-known way to get rid of allergens in your carpet or upholstered furniture. Also known as hot-water extraction or commonly mistake for simple steam cleaning, PWHE is a method mostly used by professional cleaning companies.
Hot water extraction carpet cleaning can remove up to 95% of all heavy particles nested in a dirty carpet and thus relieve any allergy sufferer.
Avoid using harsh detergents and go green instead
Many of today’s commercial cleaning products contain chemicals that can aggravate or trigger allergic symptoms. Instead, turn to the increasingly wide variety of natural and plant-based alternatives on the market.
You can even go one step further and create your own green products using ingredients found in every kitchen, such as vinegar, lemon, and baking soda.
Think twice before letting the fresh breeze in
In fact, we highly recommend that you keep your windows closed at all times, especially during nighttime. The reason for this is pollen – an airborne allergen that many plants produce.
Another proven idea is to stay home anywhere between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. when the pollen count is typically higher.
Other things you can do to fight the pollen invasion include:
- Changing your clothes and taking a shower every time you come home;
- Hanging laundry inside your property as opposed to outside;
- Keeping you and your guests’ shoes on the welcome mat outside;
- Swapping out the filter of your air conditioning once every month.
Re-evaluate your choice of household plants
Potted plants often develop tiny spots of mould on their leaves, which can turn any pleasant evening into a sneeze fest.
One thing you can do is to remove any mouldy leaves you spot and avoid letting water to pool in each pot tray. If these measures do little to ease your allergies, you can opt for beneficial plants instead.
Here are a few options to get you started:
- English ivy: this climbing vine is great for battling formaldehyde and can be grown just about anywhere, including in hanging baskets, low planters, and other locations. All it needs is regular misting, especially during the winter.
- Peace lily: this is the plant to have when you want to rid your home from acetone, alcohols, benzene, ammonia, and other toxins. Just like the English ivy, it’s pretty low maintenance as its leaves only need to be wiped occasionally.
- Lady palm: ammonia and other chemicals won’t stand a chance with this plant by your side. It’s also highly resistant to insects, though you should be mindful of trimming any Lady palm leaf tips that turn brown.
Step up your cleaning game as a pet owner
If you are the proud owner of a dog or a cat and you are prone to allergies, you’ve probably regretted those nights when you allowed your fluff balls to sleep on your bed.
This is because, as modern science tells us, the protein that is contained within the saliva, dander, and even the urine of our cute companions acts as a powerful allergen for many people out there.
That is why you should make an extra effort to clean your home almost every day with a HEPA vacuum cleaner to collect animal dander, and you should attempt to keep the fluff balls away from your comfy bedding and furniture.
Other measures you can take include:
- Washing and brushing your pet outside each week to prevent the spread of allergens;
- Covering all air vents in your house with cheesecloth to filter out pet dander;
- Keeping pets away from certain rooms, such as your bedroom, at all times.
Invest in high-quality humidity controllers
To maintain an allergy-free home, you need to strike a good balance between humidity and “dryness”. For instance, a property with low moisture levels will allow animal dander and other particles to roam free. Conversely, too much moisture can spur mould and mildew growth.
Depending on your individual situation, grab either a humidifier or a dehumidifier and try to keep the air moisture levels at about 40% tops.
To keep humidity levels in check during hot summer days, run your air conditioning system once every few days.
Banish mould and mildew from your home
As mentioned above, these fungi thrive in damp environments, bathrooms and basements being the most famous examples. What’s worse, mould releases spores which can be easily inhaled by allergy sufferers and lead to a running nose, reddened eyes, and other annoyances. So, be on the lookout for mould and mildew and tackle the issue directly by:
- Replacing mouldy shower curtains and carpeting;
- Switching the exhaust fan after taking a shower;
- Wiping mould and mildew off walls with a chlorine-bleach solution;
- Keeping air temperatures below 21 degrees Celsius;
- Placing a dehumidifier in the affected areas;
- Sweeping any accumulated leaves in your yard.
Having landlord insurance will cover all the damage in case of a flood which is one of the primary reasons for mould issues down the road.
Hunt down cockroaches and other sneaky pests
Unfortunately, the protein contained in pet saliva is not the only one you should beware.
As it turns out, the protein found inside cockroach droppings can also trigger allergies.
If you start early, however, you should be able to curb the infestation on your own using specially designed traps, baits, or simply some boric acid. Other measures include:
- Storing your food in tightly sealed containers;
- Regularly emptying your garbage bins;
- Immediately disposing of any visible roach droppings.
- As for dust mites, make it a habit of washing your bedding at a 130-degree programme once a week. You should also look into hypoallergenic casings for your beds, pillows, and mattresses.
Finally, if you are unable to deal with the pests in your property, you can always call a professional exterminator who will advise you on the best possible course of action.
Back allergens into a corner with these extra cleaning tips
Here are some additional steps you can take to keep the sneezing and coughing to a minimum:
- Wash any soft or plush toys often and avoid using fireplaces;
- Reduce carpeting in favour of hardwood or linoleum flooring;
- Clean the shower, the bathtub, and the kitchen once a week;
- Opt for leather, vinyl and similar smooth-surfaced furniture;
- Thoroughly scrub the drip pan of your refrigerator;
- Swap horizontal blinds for the more easily cleaned roller shades.