May is Asthma Awareness Month and the perfect time to take a closer look at indoor air pollutants and irritants that can trigger asthma and allergy symptoms. These can include common household cleaning products and indoor environmental triggers such as dust mites, mold, pet dander, hair, and secondhand smoke. One important step toward reducing common asthma and allergy symptoms that affect one in five Americans is to use “green” cleaning products and processes.
The American Lung Association states that many standard cleaning products contain dangerous chemicals, such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These VOCs are what have been linked to occupational asthma and other respiratory illnesses. VOCs are found in cleaning products such as bleach, ammonia, floor cleaners, bathroom and tile cleaners, air fresheners, polishes and other household chemicals.
“Hidden allergens are everywhere throughout the home,” says Marie Stegner, consumer health advocate for Maid Brigade – the leading green cleaning franchise. “Not only are green cleaning products better for our environment but they also help reduce the triggers that may worsen asthma and allergy symptoms.”
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, there are many ways to lessen asthma and allergy symptoms while cleaning. Below are a few green cleaning tips from the cleaning experts at Maid Brigade to help control household asthma and allergy triggers.
While cooking, use exhaust fans to reduce cooking fumes and to limit moisture. Keep all food in sealed containers and dispose of expired, out of date items. Each week, floors should be mopped and cabinets, backsplashes, and appliances should be wiped down. Seasonally, wipe down the inside of refrigerators and utensil drawers. In all of these kitchen areas, baking soda is the best option for an all-purpose cleaner.
Use dust mite-proof covers for pillows, mattresses, and box springs and wash sheets and blankets regularly in 130° F water. When vacuuming, be sure to use a closed-cannister vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter. Things such as knickknacks and books that may collect dust should be removed from bookcases and shelves and wiped down thoroughly. Also keep windows closed during pollen season.
Having an exhaust fan is an easy way to control the moisture in the bathroom when showering. Avoid using carpeting and opt for wood, tile, or linoleum floors instead. Avoid use of aerosol sprays such as hairspray or bathroom deodorizers. And, make your own natural and effective bathroom cleaner using a 50/50 vinegar and water mix or baking soda and water paste.
Although basements can be tricky due to the lack of ventilation and the higher likelihood of dust and mold, if cleaned and maintained properly, problems can be avoided. Regularly check for water damage or leaks and use a dehumidifier to reduce dampness. If mold or mildew is spotted, spray straight vinegar on the wall, let it dry, and do not rinse.
For more green cleaning tips check out the “What’s wrong with this picture?” infographic at www.maidbrigade.com/asthma-allergy-awareness or the Maid Brigade Green Cleaning Guide for Asthma and Allergy Relief at www.maidbrigade.com/green-house-cleaning/asthma-and-allergy-green-guide