To answer cleaning questions for the change in season, we turned to Stacey Crew, organization and cleaning expert, and author of The Organized Mom.
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.
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.
The AAFA recommends using portable room HEPA filters, which can take irritants out of the air quickly and are perfect for home remodeling projects.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
…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.
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.
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.