Spring is here! Many of us cannot resist the urge to open the windows and let the warm breezes in – and the pollen! If you suffer from allergies, don’t open the windows until after pollen season, especially in the morning, when pollen counts are highest. Otherwise, as Dr. Neeta Ogden, a spokesperson for the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, warns, “It will allow pollen to settle in your home.”
What other mistakes do we make as we attack spring cleaning?
#1 – NOT STARTING AT THE TOP.
Work from the ceiling down. Your ceiling fan is a great dust collector, and as you wipe off the blades and housing, dust will scatter on everything below it. Clean the fan or ceiling lights first, followed by the tops of bookshelves, crown molding, and window ledges. Everything at eye-level and below should be cleaned afterwards.
#2 – STARTING WITHOUT A PLAN.
When motivation strikes and you jump in with no plan, you may make a mess and accomplish little. Briana Norde, owner of Caliber Cleaning Inc., recommends starting with the kitchen, “the most time-consuming room,” and then moving on to smaller, more manageable tasks. Take breaks and plan on spreading the work over several days.
#3 – IGNORING THE CREVICE TOOL.
Norde suggests that this odd vacuum attachment “is not used nearly enough.” Use it between the refrigerator and the wall to get out dust your other cleaning tools can’t reach, and run it along the edge of baseboards to clean where an upright vacuum can’t.
#4 – SKIPPING THE MATTRESS.
You spend 7-8 hours (or more) in your bed every day. Your mattress harbors millions of dust mites, which can cause respiratory conditions like a runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes, and skin rashes. (And think about it – gross!) Ogden tells us that “(dust mites’) food is human skin scales, so the bed is just heaven for them.” She recommends using a vapor steam cleaner or at the very least, sprinkling your mattress with baking soda and letting it sit for a while before using a vacuum attachment to suck it up. Then enclose the mattress in an anti-allergen mattress protector.
#5 – RELYING ON HARSH CLEANERS.
Take note that many commercial cleaners have the words “hazard,” “danger,” or “caution” on their labels. Toxic ingredients can aggravate allergies and asthma. Ogden warns, “Don’t go crazy with cleaners you don’t need.” Moldy bathrooms may call for bleach, but most surfaces will clean up well with a solution of water and vinegar (in a fifty-fifty ratio).
#6 – USING CHEMICAL AIR FRESHENERS.
Everyone wants a fresh-smelling home, and the commercials tempt us to reach for scent in a can or a plug-in. However, aerosol air fresheners contain high levels of toxic pollutants like phthalates, which can increase allergies and asthma, affect hormone levels, and cause reproductive abnormalities. (Many candles and even synthetic fragrance oils contain petrochemicals.) Consider homemade potpourri or essential oils and water in a spray bottle or diffuser .
#7 – LEAVING THE CLUTTER.
Spring cleaning should start with de-cluttering. Put away toys, file paperwork, and reshelve books before dusting, or you’re wasting time and effort.
#8 – TREATING IT LIKE A CHORE.
A Harvard study found that those who considered cleaning as beneficial exercise experienced decreased body mass index, weight, and blood pressure.
It’s spring! Go ahead! Have a cleaner home, breathe allergy-free indoor air, and feel great!