woman housecleaning with vacuum to prevent allergies

I just finished allergy testing and found out that I’m allergic to many of the pollens from different trees and grasses, some of which are in my yard. Unfortunately, while the over-the-counter remedies took a bit of the edge off, they just weren’t up to the task of preventing my perpetually runny nose, sneezing and itching, red eyes. Though I can’t control the pollen count or the wind that, like Amazon, seems to deliver huge packages of pollen to my doorstep, there are ways to reduce the pollen and other irritants indoors. 

Living in California also means getting prepared for possible wildfires that can make the outdoor air thick with smoke. Here are ways to create a living space free from as many allergens as possible. For a review of allergies, asthma, and what can trigger them, read my previous blog here.  

First Things First

Okay, we may not love housecleaning, but we definitely do not love sneezing and wheezing with allergy or asthma flare-ups. Even before cleaning begins, here are helpful changes you can make.

  • Lose the carpeting. Wood or tile flooring doesn’t hold onto allergens or release fibers as carpeting does.
  • Invest in dust (and dust mite) proof covers for your mattress and pillows.
  • Switch from dust-catching drapes and blinds to roll-up shades. Frosted glass rather than curtains in the bathroom.
  • Get a shoe rack for the entryway and switch to clean “house shoes” so pollens or other triggers don’t get tracked in.
  • This is a hard one – no pets on the bed! Or in the bedroom, even better. 
  • Close windows and use air-conditioning. AC units do filter out a good many potential allergens. 
  • Invest in a vacuum with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter.
  • Become a minimalist. Clutter collects dust and creates hiding places for cockroaches. 
  • Wash sheets weekly in 130 F. hot water (to kill those mites), using only fragrance-free products. Also, don’t dry laundry outside.

Room by Room

First, put your mask on (hey, we all have one now) because we’ll be kicking up some allergens while cleaning. Before we go inside, sweep or vacuum your entryways and patio, so less dust and pollen can be tracked in. 

A damp micro fiber cloth is the best for dusting. You want to trap the dust, not send it up into the air to land somewhere else. 

Living and Family Room

  • Remove dust from surfaces, don’t forget ceiling fans, electronics, and the tops of tall furniture.
  • Vacuum/mop under all furniture
  • Vacuum upholstered furniture
  • Wash curtains and rugs in water 130°F or hotter
  • If you have carpeting, there are cleaning services that specialize in serving customers with allergies.

Kitchen and Bathrooms 

  • Fix leaks–they can promote mold.
  • Dust or rinse clean the exhaust fan covers in bath, cabinet tops and range hoods in kitchen.
  • Clean and remove mold from sinks, showers, tubs, toilets and inside cabinets.
  • Check shower curtains for signs of mold and mildew – wash regularly.
  • Wash rugs regularly.
  • Clean your garbage disposal with baking soda and white vinegar.


  • Vacuum mattresses and fabric furniture.
  • Replace pillows if show signs of wear. 
  • Wash curtains and throw rugs in water 130°F or hotter.
  • Vacuum/mop under all furniture.
  • Remove dust on and behind furniture, like dressers and nightstands, under beds, on ceiling fans and light fixtures, and inside closets. 
  • Check allergen barrier covers on mattresses and pillows for wear and replace if needed.
  • Replace or clean filters in air cleaners.

Air Filters

There are many stand-alone purifiers on the market that claim to clean indoor air of microscopic dust, mold spores, pollen, and other particles. They are best used in one room, usually the bedroom. They can be the HEPA filter variety or the more exotic UV-C light and ionic filtration, which charges airborne particles then collects them on plates with opposite charges. Here is a New York Times article about various air filters available. I’m ordering one now.

You can also add filters to your home’s air conditioning and heating unit. They need to be replaced regularly, although some are washable. Known as Whole House Air Purifiers they filter the air as it first comes in through your intake. Here is an informative article about this type of home air filter.

Hope this will help you breathe easier. 

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