Nashville is on the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s Spring Allergy Capitals report as one of the most challenging places to live if you suffer from allergies, and with the brutal winter that just swept across the Midwest, allergists are predicting an especially sneezy spring. To make matters worse, the average U.S. home actually contains twice the level of air pollution as outdoors. This is in large part because indoor allergens bury themselves in places we typically don’t regularly clean — like our upholstery. Here are some easy tips to tackle that couch, and other germ magnets around the house, to reduce allergy symptoms this season.
- Vacuum: Do it regularly, with the right model. Vacuum carpets and rugs weekly with a bag vacuum, preferably one with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter, since it is more effective at trapping airborne allergens like pet dander and pollen. Traditional vacuums will just expel dust and allergens back into the room. And keep clutter at bay. Areas like closets and underneath the bed tend to attract clutter, resulting in dust bunnies.
- Upholstered Furniture: Don’t forget to vacuum upholstery too. Most people vacuum carpets and rugs but forget about upholstery. Similar to rugs and carpets, particles like dust, dirt and allergens settle on furniture surfaces. Vacuum once every other week and get them professionally cleaned at least once a year.
- Beds: Regularly clean bedding. Vacuum mattresses at least once a month and turn over every six months to reduce dust mites. Wash linens every two weeks in hot water over 130°F, and place dust-proof covers on pillows, mattresses and box springs. Replace padded bedding and headboards with allergen-resistant alternatives, or bedding that can be washed on a regular basis.
- Pets: Keep them clean. Bathe pets regularly. Keep them out of the bedroom, with doors closed, to reduce their dander in the air. Even if pets are not in the room, their dander remains airborne for several hours and floats throughout the house.
- Temperature & Humidity Levels: Set them at correct levels. Dust mites thrive in warm, humid conditions. Keep household thermostats below 70°F and humidity below 50 percent.
- Heating & Air Conditioning Filters: Regularly check and replace them. Changing filters at regular intervals, especially after winter months, prevents dirt, dust and unhealthy particles from distributing around the house. Follow the recommended replacement timing for each filter as indicated on the package.
- Doormats & Area Rugs: Place them in high-traffic areas. Many think that bare floors are cleaner than carpet, but dust, allergens and dirt particles settle on hard surfaces and get stirred back into the air more easily the next time there is activity in the room. Rugs placed on these surfaces act as filters, trapping these particles until it is time to vacuum.
- Cleaning Professionals: Call them annually. Regular vacuuming does a good job of picking up dirt and dust on the surface, but there can still be a lot of bacteria and allergens trapped deep within the fibers of carpet and upholstery. The EPA recommends getting carpets professionally cleaned at least once a year, and in homes with pets or children, two to three times per year. TNT Chem-Dry is a local carpet and upholstery cleaning service, part of the larger Chem-Dry organization, that uses a proprietary Hot Carbonating Extraction method that was proven in a recent independent study to remove an average of 98% of common household allergens from carpets and upholstery and, when a sanitizer was added, an average of 89% of the airborne bacteria.
Article written by: Tara Outson, co-owner
TNT Chem-Dry in Nashville