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Step 1 Ė Start With An Allergen-Control Plan:
Step 2 - The Bedrooms
Every home has dust mites. You canít see them but they are there. They feed on our skin flakes, as we shed about two pounds each year. We spend about a third of our lives in bed so most dust mites are in our pillows, bedding and bedroom carpets. You can control them by keeping bedding clean and controlling dust. Mites in the bedroom are a trigger for people with allergies and asthma.
Use special dust mite-proof covers to keep dust mites from getting into pillows. They are sometimes called "allergen-impermeable". If you donít use covers, wash pillows at least 1 time every two weeks in very hot water, and replace every year.
Mattresses should be cleaned every six months by a professional cleaner using an extraction method to reduce allergens. A professional cleaner can also apply a neutralizing spray to reduce allergen irritants between regular cleaning. Regular cleaning of carpets and upholstery should be part of your allergen-control plan.
Step 3 - Bathroom:
Mold and mildew are tiny plants that grow where itís warm and damp-like in the shower. They release invisible "spores" into the air. The floating spores trigger allergy and asthma episodes. And wherever they land, the spores start growing new mold.
Mold can also grow on appliances Ė like air conditioners, dehumidifiers and humidifiers. Follow manufacturerís instructions to change filters and clean regularly.
To find products to remove or control mildew Ė read the label. Follow the manufacturerís instructions for wearing protective equipment if required. You can use an antibacterial product two or three times a week to prevent mold from coming back.
Step 4 - Kitchen:
Cockroaches are attracted to food and moisture Ė including crumbs, cooking grease and plain water. After dust mites, cockroaches are the second largest group of indoor allergens. Itís important to remove or tightly cover all food and water, especially at night when cockroaches are more active. Food + Water = Cockroaches
Cockroaches are often found around the refrigerator because of food spills and dampness. These spills and moisture also grow mold. Keeping your refrigerator clean is an important part of controlling allergens. Follow the cleaning instructions in your ownerís manual.
Step 5 - Living Areas:
When children play and crawl on the floor, they breathe in allergens. Keep carpet, furniture and curtains as clean as possible. All home furnishings should be professionally cleaned on a regular basis. Cleaning frequency is based on the number of people in your home, if you have pets or smokers and the amount of outside dust and pollution.
When you vacuum, some of the allergens trapped in carpets and upholstery are thrown into the air. Whenever possible, have a non-allergic person do the vacuuming. Or, wear a dust mask and goggles if eye allergies are a problem.
Use a vacuum that has a HEPA (99.7% efficient) filter and/or exhaust filter; or use a special bag that holds allergens inside the bag. Vacuum at least once a week and more often if you have a pet. Empty the bag when itís half full (or throw it away if itís disposable). An upright vacuum or a canister with a powered head is best for carpet. An upright vacuum or canister vacuum with a powered nozzle is fine for cleaning upholstery, draperies, blinds and light dusting.
* Dirty carpets and fabrics hold: Dust mites + pollens + animal dander = allergies
Step 6 - Air Handling System:
Most homes and offices use a central heating, ventilation and air conditioning system (HVAC). Other homes may have central heating but use wall unit air conditioners. All heating and cooling systems should be cleaned on a regular basis.
Air duct systems can hold dust, pollen, animal dander, dust mite allergens and mold spores. Condensation in the air conditioning system, particularly during the summer, can collect and be a breeding ground for mold. Make sure system drip pans are cleaned and moisture is draining properly.
People who are very sensitive to certain chemicals should be certain to read the product contents on the label before purchasing harsh cleaning agents.
Donít leave cleaning buckets where children or pets can get into them. Young children can drown in very small amounts of liquid. Large buckets are especially dangerous.
Never mix different cleaning products together. They can make dangerous fumes (like bleach and ammonia).
Store cleaning products out of the reach of young children and away from food.
Keep products in their original containers with their labels in place.
Read and follow label directions, different products work in different ways and can have different use instructions.
Keep the local poison control center number near your phone.
Do not use products with high amounts of VOCís (volatile organic compounds).
Step 8 - The Clutter Plan:
Want to save time and reduce allergens? Then get rid of clutter!
Having lots of stuff around does more than clutter a room. It makes cleaning harder and gives places for dust and other allergens to collect. Follow these simple steps to reduce clutter:
Step 9 - Water Incursion:
The number one enemy of our homes is water. If you have water damage from broken pipes, leaks or rain coming into your home Ė it must be treated immediately! Steps need to be taken to dry the structure and its contents by a licensed and certified water damage contractor.
When walls, flooring, carpets or parts of your home stay wet for longer than 24 hours, mold and bacteria will grow. This can result in the release of severe allergens into your home. Mold produces my co toxins, which have the potential to produce toxic affects to our immune system and internal organs.
With moisture present, mold can grow on sheet rock, between walls of your home or under flooring. You may have a mold problem after a flood that is not first visible.
Do not delay in immediately contacting your insurance company whenever you have the unfortunate event of water damage.
Step 10 - Cleaning with Allergies or Asthma:
Since many allergens float in the air, they are hard to avoid. Cleaning (like dusting and vacuuming) can stir up the air and the allergens in it. Just like other particles in the air, sometimes cleaning products can "trigger" an asthma attack. But itís still important to clean. If you donít, dust, mold and other allergens will build up, making asthma symptoms worse.
If you have allergies or asthma, here are some important tips:
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