With warmer weather just around the corner, now’s the time to think about spring cleaning. If you are one of the two million Australians with asthma, this is an especially important time of the year.
Over the winter months dust, dirt and allergens such as mould can build up in your home, triggering allergy symptoms and asthma in susceptible people.
Adam Trumble, Partnerships Manager at the National Asthma Council, says that an effective way to manage this is by spring cleaning, which will reduce triggers in the home.
“People with asthma can benefit from a spring clean more than most. A thorough once-over of your home helps control both indoor and seasonal allergens,” says Adam.
With more than eight in 10 people suffering from asthma also being affected by allergies, a clean and healthy environment is an important part of reducing asthma and allergy triggers.
“You won’t completely eliminate allergens, but there are many ways to reduce exposure for you and your family.”
Adam said that those with asthma and allergies also needed to consider their cleaning products, technique and ventilation to ensure that any spring cleaning doesn’t contribute to their asthma and allergy symptoms.
“You don’t want to just move dust around and send allergens and irritating cleaning chemicals into the air – this could have an adverse effect.
“There are many ways to help eliminate allergens in the home this spring. Use a damp cloth to dust hard surfaces; change or clean filters in vacuums, air-conditioners and air purifiers; vacuum drapes and upholstery; and importantly, remove mould.”
Here are Adam’s top tips for spring cleaning to help keep your allergies and asthma under control:
Get rid of old clutter. Clearing out your old belongings reduces dust significantly. Store everything in closets and drawers to minimise dust collection.
Dust forgotten surfaces. Over the winter months, dust will have collected on windows, blinds, curtain rails and skirting boards. Use a damp cloth to clean these areas and then rinse it out well. Don’t fluff the dust up into the air by using a feather duster though; this just distributes dust around the home.
Vacuum thoroughly. If possible, ask someone else to do the vacuuming, as this increases allergens in the air for up to 20 minutes. Use a quality vacuum cleaner that removes particulate matter (these often have HEPA filters).
Remove dust mites from bedding. Ensure that bedding, sheets, pillow-cases and quilts are washed (at greater than 55°C) at least once every two weeks. Encasing the mattress and pillows in protectors will stop the transfer of dust mites.
Clean drapes and upholstery. Because allergens cling to soft surfaces, it’s essential to wash, dry-clean or vacuum drapes, as well as vacuum sofas and chairs to remove lingering allergens, and wash or dry-clean throw rugs. Vertical blinds or roller shades are less likely to accumulate dust than drapes.
Change or clean old filters in air-conditioners, vacuums and air purifiers. Keep the air coming into your house clean and fresh.
Clean up after pets. If you have a pet who has spent a long winter indoors, vacuum your pet’s sleeping quarters well. Wash the pet’s bedding frequently.
Remove mould. Mould is a significant and sometimes overlooked trigger of asthma. After removing mould, take steps to prevent it coming back such as sealing bathroom leaks and treating rising damp as soon as it’s detected.
Allergen avoidance doesn’t cure asthma, but by reducing your exposure to allergen triggers you may improve your asthma control and help make symptoms easier to manage.
For more information on asthma and allergy sensitive products, and tips on removing allergens around the home, visit the National Asthma Council Australia’s Sensitive Choice website: sensitivechoice.com.au.
The Sensitive Choice program helps educate Australians about managing their asthma and allergy triggers and also encourages companies to recognise the health concerns of people with asthma or allergies. Some manufacturers have even been inspired to develop specific new products, such as carpets, for this community.