OR, what do a clothes dryer, a pillow case and a hair dryer have in common?
When the weather turns colder we close our windows and it seems that everyone starts getting sick. Most of the “sickness” is really a reaction to dust and allergens that are hiding in our homes. Hiding??? Yup, hiding throughout your house. If you or someone else in your house notices more congestion, more sneezing or coughing, this could be your problem.
A really good vacuum with lots of attachments isn’t the only way to reduce these irritants indoors. And besides, it’s big and clunky, puts off heat when operated and it’s all the way down in the basement. Instead, try these surprisingly easy tricks to get rid of allergens in your home – and your sickness.
Fluffy deep pile rugs – Rugs in general are dust magnets but those new designer rugs that have long shaggy pile are the worst. Dust, dust mites, pet dander, pet hair and other allergens get embedded deep within the fibers. Put smaller size rugs right into your clothes dryer to remove the allergens. As you will discover in this blog post, your dryer is possibly your best weapon against allergens in your home. The heat of the dryer kills the dust mites and the air flow frees the allergens and exhausts them outside.
Throw Pillows – Throw pillows accumulate dust just like your wood furniture. I think I’ll dust them today. Says no one, ever. And you can’t, really, anyway. You can clean them with the upholstery tool on your vacuum OR simply take them outside and give them several good whacks to dislodge dust and other microscopic irritants, then use your trusty dryer to kill and remove the remaining, more deeply embedded allergens.
Book Shelves – Books hardly ever get dusted when we clean. Yes, we dust the shelf they are sitting on, but never the tops of books. Ever watch a movie and see the dust they blow off when they pull an old book out of a shelf in the library? It’s exaggerated in the movies, but commonly occurs on a lesser scale in an average home.
Books get really dusty. You can quick clean them on the shelf by using a really good feather duster or your vacuum and the upholstery attachment. But if it’s been a while, a deep clean may be in order: pull all the books off the shelf and dust all six sides of each with a microfiber cloth. Microfiber grabs and holds dust and other allergens while other dusting rags just move dust around. If you’ve got allergies, you need microfiber for a really thorough job.
Draperies– Drapes and curtains are the worst place for dust and allergens to accumulate. Most allergists recommend removing window dressings completely when someone has been diagnosed with dust allergies. If you can’t live without draperies or curtains, there are a couple ways to keep the allergens at bay. Vacuum your window treatments on a bi-weekly basis using your vacuum and upholstery tool. Once a month, take them down and place them in the dryer on high heat. Keep this regimen and you will never need to go through the entire process of washing, drying and pressing your curtains.
Lamp shades – Pleated lamp shades never really get dusted. You may dust the top of the pleats of the shade by “blotting” with a microfiber cloth (you don’t want to push particles into the weave of cloth shades) BUT the real allergens are hiding deep down inside the pleats. Use your vacuum and the upholstery tool to draw dust out of the pleat. Then use a new paint brush and brush down inside the pleats to loosen the dust nestled there. Finish by vacuuming the entire shade one final time.
Artificial plants and flowers – Allergens LOVE to hide in dry flower arrangements and on artificial plants. Artificial arrangements tend to be overlooked when we are dusting. A simple tool you can use to clean the dried flowers is a hair dryer set on a gentle setting. Do this outside or in the garage, if possible. To clean plastic plants, simply use a spray bottle of water and a dry microfiber cloth. Spray the leaves and wipe them dry with the microfiber cloth.
Stuffed animals – If your child is diagnosed with allergies the first thing your allergist will recommend is bag up all your child’s stuffed animals. These, like throw pillows, are a haven for dust and allergens. If your child just can’t part with these beloved friends, place them in a pillow case and pop them in the washer twice a month to keep the allergens to a minimum. If they can safely be dried, use the dryer.
Ceiling fans – Perhaps the most overlooked item on a routine clean is the ceiling fan. Before you know it, there’s a nice film of dust building on the edges of the fan paddles. What you can’t see is the buildup on top of those paddles. A quick and easy way to fix this is with a pillow case. Place the pillow case over the fan paddle and, holding it closed at the base of the paddle, pull the dust off. Carefully open the pillow case and repeat on the remaining paddles. Then just put the pillowcase in the washer. No more allergens!