Five Tips for Sneeze-Free Spring Cleaning

Can cleaning be sneeze-free? Stacy Champion, founder of Phoenix-based environmental consultancy Champion Indoors, shares her top tips for reducing indoor allergens.
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Five Tips for Sneeze-Free Spring Cleaning
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Dust mites, pets, mold, and pollen that blows through windows can contribute to your allergy symptoms. Keep your windows closed to help reduce allergens.
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  1. Use natural cleaning products when possible

    There are many natural brands to choose from, but if you can’t pronounce the ingredients, reconsider using them. You can also search for “natural cleaning product recipes” to make your own.

  2. Don’t kick up dust – absorb it

    Use washable, micro-fiber cleaning cloths. Get them slightly damp to minimize the dust in the air. If your home has hard-surfaced flooring, use a micro-fiber push sweeper before mopping.

  3. Take care with carpet

    If you have carpet in your home, invest in a HEPA vacuum cleaner. Try to vacuum in all four directions to clean the carpet thoroughly.

  4. Don’t forget the filters

    Replace your homes’ air intake filters regularly—or upgrade to HEPA filters. Consider a portable air cleaner or HEPA filtration system to reduce particles and dust.

  5. Check, and check again

    When cleaning your home, make it a habit to check for visible leaks or moisture, which could lead to mold growth problems - a huge allergen for most people.

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Four Ways to Refresh your Home

Want some ideas on how to easily refresh your home? We asked design journalist and DIY blogger, Jean Nayar, about simple ways to help freshen up your space.

Four Easy Home Refreshers
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Many of us think of cleaning windows as a matter of getting the glass shiny and clear. But the Mayo Clinic advises allergy sufferers not to neglect frames and sills, which can harbor mold and condensation.

An easy, low-cost way to update a room is to change up your pillows. Whether it’s by replacing them with brighter, indoor-outdoor pillows, or updating the pillow covers with new textures or patterns––a burst of color may do the trick.

Cleaning your windows is a simple way to brighten a room. Save money by cleaning them yourself with a squeegee and soapy water. Professional window cleaners are a good bet if you have second-story or tall windows.

This is an easy one! Go green with fresh herbs like basil, thyme and chives, planted in small containers and placed on windowsills. They add color and a fresh scent to your home.

Yes, because it’s a great way to reduce allergens. When was the last time you vacuumed behind your couches or refrigerator, or scrubbed your bathroom grout, cleaned exhaust fans and vents, or replaced HVAC filters?

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Reduce Clutter in your Home

Take a home tour and get tips on how allergy sufferers can cut down on clutter and dust, messes and mold. The following tips, form New York-based Life Coach and Professional Organizer, J’HeaLee, offer great ways to get it done right.

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Cutting Clutter, Room by Room
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Fall Cleaning 101

To answer cleaning questions for the change in season, we turned to Stacey Crew, organization and cleaning expert, and author of The Organized Mom.

Fall Cleaning 101 – My Allergy Guide™
Tip

When tackling home cleaning and organization projects, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America suggests allergy sufferers wear a dust mask and use a cloth that is damp or treated for dusting. After cleaning, leave the house for a few hours.

For blinds, use a non-toxic, water-based cleaner that’s safe for wood and related surfaces. If you can machine-wash your curtains, do that in the fall; otherwise, consider having them dry cleaned.

Summer months may bring pollen and other allergens into your home. Vacuuming regularly, washing down the baseboards with a damp rag and having your carpets professionally cleaned will ensure that they’re not trapped there year-round.

Clean air filters are an important part of maintaining indoor air quality throughout the year. Schedule your filter changes for every three months by stocking up and marking change days in your calendar.

Reducing clutter in the kitchen should be a priority. Good rules of thumb: no more than two appliances on the countertops; have a place for every item; and create space in the cabinets and drawers to house the usual counter clutter.

As the outdoor temperature cools down, so does the temperature in the attic. That makes fall the perfect time to clean and organize it.

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Fall Cleaning Basics
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Let’s Paint: Steps to Minimizing Your Allergies

Embarking on a home painting project? The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) has easy steps on how to minimize the allergy symptoms that a do-it-yourself project may cause.

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Let’s Paint: Steps to Minimizing Your Allergies
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The AAFA recommends using portable room HEPA filters, which can take irritants out of the air quickly and are perfect for home remodeling projects.

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  1. Step:

    Consider Allergy-Friendly Products

    Before you start, look for allergy-friendly paints and products endorsed by the AAFA and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

  2. Step:

    Know Your Materials

    Putting up new walls? Be careful of dust from wall paneling, particle board, fiberboard and insulation. Try to avoid wallboard that has glass-mesh cement "backer" boards; these can create extra debris.

  3. Step:

    Keep Your Workspace Enclosed

    Reduce the spread of potential triggers to the rest of your house by isolating the work area. Tape plastic sheets on doorways to reduce the spread of dust. When you're done, dispose of the plastic sheets carefully.

  4. Step:

    Protect Yourself From Allergens

    If you're doing the work, wear a facemask approved by the NIOSH. You can also reduce your exposure to allergens by wearing goggles and protective clothing—even a protective cap—which you can find at any home remodeling store.

  5. Step:

    Ventilate and Filter Your Space

    Control indoor air quality with a good central heating, ventilation and air- conditioning (HVAC) system fitted with a replaceable or washable HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter.

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Five Ways to Refresh Your Home’s Exterior

Winter can take a toll on your house. Here are some simple steps from Beryn Hammil, a San Francisco Bay Area designer, on how to spruce up the outside of your home.
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Five Ways to Refresh Your Home’s Exterior
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Consider doing your exterior home projects in the late afternoon or early evening when pollen levels may be lower. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America also recommends wearing a face mask to reduce your exposure to allergens.

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  1. Take a Good Look

    Look at your house objectively. If you see weeds, kids’ toys and dead grass, then that’s where you should start. If what you see includes peeling paint, torn screens, etc., then you have bigger projects on your hands.

  2. Start with the Easy Stuff…

    Start with small things that can be done in an afternoon. If it’s easy, recruit the kids; it teaches them to take pride in their home. Work on manageable projects first.

  3. …Then Tackle the Bigger Projects

    Devote some time to ensuring that you do the job properly. For paint and other simple repairs, your local hardware store should be able to help. For more intense projects like electrical work, be sure to hire a licensed professional.

  4. Consider Windows

    If Venetian blinds have broken slats, replace them, and if curtain linings are torn or faded, replace them. Simply washing windows, inside and out, can make a tremendous difference.

  5. Don’t Forget the Little Things

    Fresh flowers in pots on your front steps or along the walkway are always inviting. A new mailbox can add something special without much effort. Remember to sweep cobwebs off the outside of your house, which will keep it looking fresh and well maintained.

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From Drab to Fab: Easy Furniture Makeovers

Looking to breathe new life into your home? Make over your furniture for just a few dollars, with some tips and tricks from interior stylist Dean Vanderslice.
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Work on the exterior of your home at midday to avoid allergens.

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Work on the exterior of your home at midday to avoid allergens.
Fact or Fiction: 
Fiction
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Work on exterior home projects in the late afternoon or early evening to avoid peak allergen levels.
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If you have allergies, you should vacuum your mattress.

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If you have allergies, you should vacuum your mattress.
Fact or Fiction: 
Fact
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Vacuuming your mattress often can help get rid of dust mites.
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Wearing a hat reduces your exposure to DIY allergy triggers.

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Wearing a hat reduces your exposure to DIY allergy triggers.
Fact or Fiction: 
Fiction
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Wearing a mask and goggles limits your exposure to allergens during DIY activities.
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