Before you know it, you’re knee-deep in preparing for holiday celebrations and family visits. If you’re hosting guests with allergies — and you have pets — you have a few more things to consider when getting your home guest-ready. No problem! Here are eight cleaning tips to help allergy-proof your home for the holidays.
1. Bare the floors
Carpets and rugs are notorious for collecting dust mites, pet dander (dead skin cells that are naturally shed by your pets) and other allergens, which can trigger allergy-sensitive guests. Remove rugs and carpeting from your guest room as wooden or bare floors are easier to clean!
2. Don’t be blind to your blinds
Those window blinds that protect your privacy are also dust magnets in need of regular cleaning and dusting. Try mixing equal parts vinegar and Arm & Hammer (TM) Baking Soda to a spray bottle of warm water. Spray the blinds until they’re fully soaked (make sure you have a towel underneath to catch the drippings!) and then wipe clean.
3. Love your lamp shades
Lampshades are tricky to dust, so they’re often skipped over during cleaning. Use a lint roller or packing tape; their sticky surfaces work faster than a cloth to collect dust on lampshades, holiday décor and other neglected areas.
4. Come clean with your pets
Pet dander, urine and saliva are the main culprit to allergies — not pet hair. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America says pet hair isn’t an allergen, but since dander can stick to hair and hide underneath a furry coat, it’s partially to blame for allergy misery. A weekly wash and scrub — using warm water and a dander-reducing shampoo — can greatly reduce allergens! You can also put your pet in a cute holiday sweater to keep fur from flying.
5. Designate pet-free zones
Pet hair can get everywhere, but you can dramatically reduce these fly-aways by keeping your pets out of certain areas of the house where your guests will be. This can help keep pet allergens from getting into fabrics and rugs all over your home. Be sure to close the doors to guest rooms and install pet fences where appropriate.
6. Defend against dander
Dander can get everywhere and affect your allergy-sensitive guests. Run your clothes and bedding in the dryer before you wash them to remove pet hair, which carries dander. Before making up the guest room, wash blankets and duvets to make them fresh and dander-free. Consider using a dermatologist-tested, hypoallergenic detergent that’s gentle on skin and free of dyes and perfumes, like Arm & Hammer(TM) Sensitive Skin Free & Clear detergent. They say “old habits die hard” because people generally use products that have been in the family for generations, but what happens once those products start irritating the skin? Symptoms of irritation can include redness, dry skin, burning, or hives. Sensitive skin laundry detergents really do get clothes clean. Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin detergent has been extensively evaluated among people who have sensitive skin. So, don’t worry, it’s gentle on skin, but will get your laundry clean and fresh.
7. Put out some plants
The American Society of Horticultural Science and other organizations have performed studies that show how indoor plants significantly improve and clean a room’s air quality. Setting out plants like aloe, golden pathos and bamboo palm can help filter out common volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in indoor air; bright flowers like azaleas, chrysanthemums and peace lilies can do the same. Unfortunately, floral plants like poinsettias (yes, your favorite holiday décor) can trigger skin reactions for those sensitive to latex or rubber.
8. Freshen the air
Air purifiers and filters can work wonders in reducing airborne allergens and keeping your surroundings feeling fresh through the holidays. Purchase air filters that have a small-particle or HEPA filter for your guest room and common areas and start running them a few days before guests arrive for best results.
While these eight tips can help, it’s impossible to eliminate all the allergens in your home. Just in case, have some Arm & Hammer Simply Saline Instant Relief on hand to help your guests stay comfortable. Its drug-free formula safely flushes out contaminants, quickly relieves congestion and is safe to use along with their allergy medications. Now, with all your bases covered, you can make the holidays even happier for you and your guests.
Elizabeth Mullans, M.D. is a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Uptown Dermatology in Houston, TX.