Published on 06/08/04

Don't wait until spring to thoroughly clean

By Sharon Omahen
University of Georgia

Springtime has become synonymous with cleaning time, but if you're an allergy sufferer, you shouldn't wait until spring to thoroughly clean your home.

"Cleaning on a regular basis in a thorough manner may reduce the numbers of allergens in the home," said Jorge Atiles, a housing specialist with the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service. "You can keep allergens in your home to a minimum by maintaining cleanliness year-round."

Set a weekly cleaning schedule

Atiles suggests creating a weekly cleaning plan and sticking to it. For example, on Mondays, clean the bedroom thoroughly and on Tuesdays, wash all bedding, and on Wednesdays wet mop the floors.

"For your allergies' sakes, take time everyday to maintain a clean home," Atiles said. "Even if just have five minutes to spare."

You can reduce allergens in your home by removing dust, dust mites and mold. To remove accumulated dust and dust mites, cut down on clutter in your home and reduce relative humidity (moisture levels)indoors to under 50 percent.

"Allergens can accumulate in clutter as well as on your upholstery and carpeting," he said.

Vacuum all upholstery and carpeting with a HEPA filter vacuum weekly and consider having them professionally cleaned once or twice a year, as well.

"If your allergies are severe, you may want to consider replacing your carpeting with wood, vinyl or linoleum flooring," Atiles said.

Also clean window treatments, dust blinds, and remove and wash curtains, if possible. Regularly clean fan blades, light fixtures, ceilings, walls and vents to remove dust.

Control moisture to fight mold

And don't forget to fight mold, too.

"Mold is ubiquitous in the environment, and it is extremely difficult to remove all molds from an indoor environment," Atiles said. "But you can control moisture to aid in the elimination of mold growth."

To fight mold, eliminate moisture sources such as dripping faucets, puddles of water and wet bathmats. Use a squeegee after bathing to remove water from shower walls and bathtubs.

Make sure there is adequate ventilation while cooking and bathing to reduce moisture build-up. Remove mold and mildew from surfaces using cleaners designed specifically for the job.

Once surfaces covered with mold and mildew have been cleaned, Atiles recommends cleaning them once or twice per week.

Sharon Omahen is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.