Spring-cleaning season and allergy season coincide for many folks—call it a crazy coincidence, but it actually works out. Those spring-cleaning chores you already had on your list will help reduce allergens at home, too.
So if that springtime burst of pollen leaves you sneezing, wheezing, and wiping your nose well into summer, know that you can help ease your suffering. In addition to dosing yourself with weapons-grade antihistamines, there are things you can do around the house to lower your indoor pollen count. Here are six spring-cleaning tips to alleviate allergies, too.
1. Get an air purifier
“One way to reduce allergies indoors is with a HEPA air purifier. These will eliminate 99% of allergens in the air inside your home,” says Dr. Christopher Thompson, a surgeon specializing in allergies at the Texan Allergy & Sinus Center.
Already have an air purifier? Remember to change or clean the filters regularly—most lifetime HEPA filters need to be cleaned every three to six months, and the charcoal prefilter needs to be changed every six. During peak pollen times, it doesn’t hurt to err on the side of more frequent cleaning. And be sure to clean the filter outside rather than inside your home.
And once you get all that clean air in your house, you want to keep it that way. Keep doors and windows closed and everything else sealed up tight. There will be plenty of time to enjoy the balmy breezes after the trees are done spewing pollen.
2. Dust, vacuum, and mop oft-overlooked places
“Regular cleaning like vacuuming and mopping is a must to get rid of pollen, but don’t forget to clean curtains and blinds,” says Thompson. “Dust and pollen collect here and often get overlooked.”
Other frequently forgotten spots? Windowsills, the tops of door frames, picture frames, lamp shades, light fixtures, and the tops of upper cabinets and bookshelves. And be sure to empty the pollen-filled vacuum directly into the outside trash—don’t negate all of that hard work in a cloud of dust and pollen indoors.
3. Change or wash your filters
Depending on where you live, allergy season may or may not be air-conditioning weather. If you’re in a hot place, your AC will help clean the pollen out of the air, so make sure you’re changing the air filter regularly. Normally, you want to replace or clean it every three months, but during allergy season you can step that up to every 20–45 days, especially if you have a pet.
In fact, if you’re worried about allergies, you might as well add “change or clean anything with a filter” to your spring-cleaning checklist. Give your dryer filter a rinse, clean the filter on your vent hood or exhaust fan, wash the filter on your bathroom exhaust fans, and clean the crud off of your ceiling fan blades before you start using them again.
Just make sure you wear a face cover if you’re doing all that dusting and you have dust allergies. Or even better, it’s the perfect excuse to delegate the most onerous cleaning tasks to someone else in your household with a less trigger-happy immune system.
4. Wash and change when you come in
Technically this is not a spring-cleaning thing, it’s a you-cleaning thing. Thompson recommends peeling off your pollen-carrying clothes and shoes and rinsing off if you’ve been outside for a while.
“A great way to stop pollen from entering your home is by changing clothes and showering after being outside for extended periods of time,” he explains. “Pollen loves to stick to our skin, hair, and clothes, so not washing or changing means your allergies are following you everywhere.”
Be sure to frequently clean the entryway where this presto-chango is happening, too. Wash welcome mats, vacuum hallway carpets, and mop the mudroom.
5. Wipe off your pets
And that goes for your pets, too.
“It’s a must to wipe off your pet’s feet before they go inside,” says Thompson. “Pollen loves to get stuck in paws and fur, so you may want to increase the amount you bathe your pet during the allergy season or at least invest in some pet wipes.”
Yes, pet wipes are a thing, kind of like a sponge bath for your critters. Keep a packet near the door so you can scrape the spring off of them before they go and sleep on your pillow.
6. Isolate guests’ pollen
OK, so you could invest in a decontamination shower to keep in the entryway and insist guests follow biohazard level 4 protocols before they enter your house, but that would work only because it would reduce your visitor count to zero.
But it is a good idea to cut down on the amount of pollen guests bring inside by investing in washable entry mats where guests can wipe off shoes, and hooks or benches near the door where they can shed their outer layers.
Also, even if you normally allow guests to keep their shoes on in the house, they’re caked in pollen—so consider becoming a no-shoe home until your allergy season is over.
*Information provided by realtor.com