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Spring Cleaning... Ahhhhhh-chou!

Dear Ellen, It’s Spring Cleaning time, I have allergies and would like to clean and de-clutter my home to help relieve my symptoms. What do you suggest?

As we read in last week’s post, a cluttered home can have a significant impact on our health. In addition, springtime’s warmer weather, longer days and more pollen in the air can cause many of us to suffer from itchy eyes, sneezing and congestion due to hay fever and other allergies. Some allergies are severe and require the attention of a doctor, however, for milder cases, simple home improvements may provide necessary relief with relatively little expense. 

Where to begin?

Print out or JPEG to your smartphone the De-Clutter Cheat sheet from from last week’s post. Spring Cleaning…Lose your clutter to win your health!, then:

Living Room – Top 10!

The living room space is where you mingle with and honour your relationships with family and friends. Clutter can turn these social spaces into areas of isolation, especially if the mess is so bad that it has been years since you have dared invite people over. Studies show that dust mites are the main allergy trigger thriving inside mattresses, pillows, cushions, and carpeting in living rooms and bedrooms. Vacuuming is not enough to keep dust mites away, so our goal while de-cluttering is to try to eliminate excess dust and pollen.

  1. Remove all items that collect dust, such as knickknacks, ornaments, books and magazines.
  2. Recycle all old magazines since everything relevant is available on-line today!
  3. Clean floors weekly with a good HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) vacuum which traps 99.97% of microscopic particles in the air as well as dust, pet dander, and other allergens from bare floors, rugs, and carpeting.
  4. Shut all windows to keep out pollen and if possible use an air conditioner with high-efficiency filters to cool your home instead of a fan, which draws in air from outside. Otherwise just open your windows only very early in the morning or after rain.
  5. Remove extra pillows and textiles throughout the room as they are a potential resting spot for both dust mites and pollen. Consider replacing upholstered sofas and chairs with furniture made of leather, wood, metal or plastic.
  6. Use washable curtains or shades made of plain cotton or synthetic fabric.
  7. Remove potted plants or spread gravel over the dirt to help contain mould which can breed dust mites.
  8. Clean fireplaces thoroughly and avoid using wood-burning fireplaces or stoves because smoke can worsen respiratory allergies. Most natural gas fireplaces won't cause this problem.
  9. Consider keeping pets outside to limit pet dander if feasible.
  10. Remove all ash trays and don’t smoke as it can worsen allergy symptoms

Bedroom – Top 10!

Adult bedrooms are for sleeping and intimacy, and they should function as places of renewal for self and relationships. Clutter in the bedroom has been shown to have a significant influence on a good night's sleep which plays a vital role in good health. Follow the above tips for the living room and then add:

  1. Ensure the bedroom has good ventilation, is not in a humid area, and replace the mattress every few years. A recent European study discovered that older mattresses and poor ventilation, along with sleeping on lower floors of a home contribute to higher concentrations of dust mites.
  2. Encase mattress, duvet and pillows in mite-proof covers or tightly woven fabric covers which are designed to hold up to frequent washings.
  3. Eliminate anything with a screen from your bedroom and you will be more likely to feel at peace. Recent research has shown that smart phones and computer screens emit blue light which activates our brains and can make it difficult to fall asleep.
  4. Switch to softer lighting (30 to 60 minutes before sleep) since bright lighting has been found to interfere with sleep.
  5. Get the darkest curtains possible to help you sleep better and block outside light from keeping you awake.
  6. Consider noise clutter in your bedroom since an ideal sleeping environment is quiet.
  7. Remove all items that are non-sleep related like clothes, books and magazines piled around the room and business documents to create a boundary from work life and diminish places for pollen and dust mites to thrive.
  8. Take off shoes at the door to keep allergens outside. Remove clothes worn outside and shower to rinse pollen from your skin and hair.
  9. Consider surrounding the bedroom and yourself only with items that make you happy, remind you of loved ones or help clear the mind of the day’s stress before sleep.
  10. Check out here to learn how to create your own sleep spa.

A clean and decluttered house is important for people who suffer from hay fever or allergies as well as for general health and well-being for all. I think you will be amazed how much better you feel once you have started even just small improvements to de-clutter your home environment this spring. Once you begin to live and thrive in your sanctuary, it will likely motivate you to keep it that way. 

Has all this spring cleaning got you thinking about your spring and summer wardrobe? Worried about your clothes fitting and the scale? Read next weeks “No weigh!” to find out more….